THE BRONX — When we exposed the problem of outdated food being sold at the Food Fair Supermarket on Castle Hill Ave in the Bronx in December, the store manager assured me he would take immediate action.
I’ll answer that in a moment.
First, let me recap what we found during our first visit.
We’d received an email from resident Moon Li, who occasionally shops at Food Fair. She sent pictures of products she’d found being sold after their expiration date. She also sent a video in which she peels back the sticker on the packaged cantaloupe and discovers another label from 10 days earlier.
As we reported, we went to Food Fair with Ms. Li and found Chobani Yogurt almost a week past its expiration date. Chobani told us the product shouldn’t be eaten after the expiration date because its yogurt does not contain any preservatives.
The Pillsbury Cookie dough had a July 1, 2017, date on the package. Pillsbury says it should not be sold four months after its expiration date because the product contains raw eggs.
Even worse, we found pink salmon in a pouch with an expiration date of Oct. 4, 2016.
We found other products for sale days, weeks and months past the date on the packages. After we showed Food Fairs manager what we and Moon Li found, he said he would have his employees check every item in the store and remove any that were outdated.
Almost two months later, we returned to Food Fair and there’s good news.
There was no outdated yogurt in the dairy case. The expired Pillsbury cookie dough had been removed and not replaced. As for the year-old salmon in a pouch, it had all been discarded.
We checked the chicken, the meat and fish. None of it was outdated.
Moon Li is pleased by the results of our follow-up visit, but says the problems she’d found are not isolated to Food Fair.
“There is a need for better quality produce, meats and customer service in many Bronx supermarkets,” she said. “There have been numerous occasions where I have found rotting fruits and vegetables for sale and browned meats that are not up to consumption standards.”
One reason for the lack of quality food in many low-income neighborhoods in New York City is the shortage of supermarkets in those areas.
“There are two grocery stores in this neighborhood,” Moon Li said. “Everything else is a bus ride or train ride away.”
Since 2009, New York City’s Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) has had a program called FRESH (Food Retail Expansion to Support Health).
FRESH offers financial support, tax and zoning incentives to encourages eligible businesses to build and expand grocery stores in underserved communities.
Anthony Hogrebe, NYCEDC’s senior vice president of public affairs said, “There are 15 supermarkets that have benefitted from the FRESH program. That includes 6 in the Bronx and 5 in Brooklyn. These are specifically in neighborhoods that previously didn’t really have access to this kind of healthy food.”
Six more supermarket projects have been approved. One them will be in Moon Li’s neighborhood.
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