Expired food at Dominick's: Second in a series
After finding 425 expired products on the shelves at the Carpentersville Dominick's location on February 10th, I wanted to see if we would find a similar situation at a different Dominick's store. On February 15th, I joined the same two blog readers who I had accompanied on our previous trip, this time at the Lake in the Hills Dominick's location (101 North Randall Road, Lake in the Hills, IL.)
For this trip, we decided to set a one-hour limit to walk some of the aisles and look for expired groceries and food on the shelves. We took a much quicker approach, moving through the store at a fair pace, not looking at every single thing -- this time focusing mainly on products with expired date codes visible from the front of the shelf. I really wanted to determine whether or not this problem was limited to one Dominick's location.
After one hour, we again filled three carts with expired groceries -- 336 expired products in all.
That works out to over FIVE expired products pulled from the shelf for every MINUTE we spent in the store.
And again, we stopped because we'd spent an hour there and filled three carts, not because we couldn't find more. We spotted plenty more, and by the same math, if we'd spent another hour, we'd have been up to 672.
(And, by the time you read this, there will likely be more expired baby food on the shelf in Lake in the Hills too. I did not count the numerous packages of Gerber pureed apple baby food that were expiring 2/16/11 in our list, but it's likely that they're still on the shelf today.)
Here are some of the things we found:
16 bottles of A-1 Steak Sauce that expired 6/21/2009-12/30/09:
14 jars of Kraft Old English Cheese spread that expired 5/22/10-8/15/10
37 boxes of Kraft Mac and Cheese that expired 8/23/2010-11/2/10
33 bottles of Safeway Barbecue Sauce that expired 3/18/2010-12/9/10
We were not able to get a close-up photo of the dates, as they were printed in shiny black text on a black label -- but still very expired.
15 bottles of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing that expired 1/10/10--1/1/2011
Expired baby food:
5 boxes of Earth's Best baby oatmeal, expired 1/15/11
11 packages of Gerber Smart Nourish Organic Pear-Raspberry baby food, expired 2/2/11
8 boxes of Earth's Best Teething Biscuits, expired 2/12/11
Watch a video with additional expired products found during this trip:
Here's the full list of 336 expired products we found on 2/15/11 at this Dominick's location.
|A1 Cracked Peppercorn Steak Sauce||6/21/2009-12/30/09||16|
|Rice a Roni||10/30/09-1/15/11||8|
|Easy Mac mac and cheese cups||12/17/09-12/17/10||14|
|Hidden Valley Ranch (regular) dressing||1/1/10||2|
|Rumford Baking Powder||1/1/10||1|
|Velveeta Mac and Cheese dinner||1/17/10||1|
|Safeway BBQ Sauce (2 varities)||3/18/2010-12/9/10||33|
|Kraft Old English cheese spread||5/22/10||5|
|Black Cherry Jello||7/22/10||6|
|Eating Right Peach Mango juice||8/13/10||2|
|Kraft Old English cheese spread||8/15/10||9|
|Kraft Mac and Cheese||8/23/2010-11/2/10||37|
|Hidden Valley Ranch Lite dressing||09/1/2010-1/1/2011||13|
|Safeway Chopped Nuts||10/10/10||1|
|Jello Cook and Serve Butterscotch||11/1/10||2|
|Jello No Bake Cheesecake||11/1/10||10|
|Safeway white rice||11/2/10||5|
|Safeway Fig Bars||11/3/10||4|
|Annie's Organic Pasta and Cheese||11/11/10||6|
|O Organics Pretzels||11/14/10||1|
|Safeway Sandwich Crème cookies||11/21/10||5|
|Near East Couscous and Rice Pilaf||11/26/10||7|
|Eating Right Peach Mango juice||12/8/10||1|
|Barilla Pasta Dinner for Two||12/17/10-1/18/11||15|
|Safeway Fig Bars||12/22/10||9|
|Safeway Thin Wheat Reduced Fat crackers||12/25/10||3|
|Safeway Sesame Wheat crackers||12/26/10||17|
|Safeway Ranch Boxed Dressing||12/27/10||11|
|Bertolli Olive Oil||12/31/10||6|
|Safeway Caramel Rice Cakes||1/2/11||11|
|TownHouse FlipSides Garlic & Herb crackers||1/2/11||2|
|Earth's Best baby oatmeal||1/15/11||5|
|Blue Diamond Hazelnut Nut Thins||1/16/11||4|
|Cheerios 1.1oz. Canister (baby aisle)||1/17/11||1|
|Safeway Lemon Crème cookies||1/24/11||2|
|Safeway Rice & Corn Cakes||1/24/11||6|
|Safeway Peanut Oil||1/26/11||7|
|A1 Cracked Peppercorn Steak Sauce||1/26/11||1|
|TownHouse FlipSides Garlic & Herb crackers||1/30/11||1|
|Gerber Smart Nourish organic pear-raspberry baby food cups||2/2/11||11|
|Annie's Whole Wheat Bunnies crackers||2/7/11||2|
|Earth's Best wheat baby teething biscuits||2/12/11||8|
|Lake in the Hills Dominick's - 2/15/11||336|
Before we went inside, we noted that there are no signs or notices posted anywhere at the Lake in the Hills Dominick's location that prohibit photography or videography in the store. I believe, to the best of my ability, that I have documented what we found as truthfully and factually as possible.
In the photos, my cart has three cartons of O Organics milk, two cartons of Minute Maid orange juice, a box of Foster Farms Great Bites chicken sandwiches and a bag of apples. These were the groceries I actually did purchase during the trip. The milk, oranges, and apples were fresh. As for the Foster Farms, once I got it home...
Well, my day's gotten busy. I've heard from numerous media outlets (television, radio, print) in Chicago over this story. CBS 2's Dorothy Tucker aired a piece on the 5:00pm and 10:00pm news tonight about it, after I met with her for an interview today:
I did hear via one media outlet too that, when Dominick's was contacted for their reaction to this story, the representative allegedly stated that "Jill only did this to get back at us for stopping accepting expired coupons." I was baffled that this was their reaction -- nothing could be further from the truth. My readers already know I have always held my ethics in high regard -- when Dominick's said no more expireds, I stopped blogging deals involving them that week. I have always been diligent in keeping current with all of our area stores' policies, and anytime a store changes the rules, I comply. I never knowingly want to teach or instruct someone to use coupons in a way that's not in accordance with a store's coupon policy.
That said, I can't quite wrap my head around that reaction. We have proof that expired food has been sitting on the shelves, expired, for over three years or more in some cases. Clearly, food on the shelves from 2007 and 2008 is a much larger problem than them deciding not to accept expired coupons anymore, and a problem that existed long before expired coupon acceptance stopped..! That's got to be one of the worst attempts at spinning something in another direction that I've ever read.
And, if expired products on the shelves are not a problem for a store, consider this. I've already heard from another reader who was in the Carpentersville Dominick's after our trip, which now, "incredibly," has lots of staff going through every single shelf looking for expired product and pulling cartloads of it from the shelves.
If it wasn't a problem having it on the shelves prior to this week, why the big rush to get it out of the store? Why now?
(Because a shopper found over 750 expired items in two shopping trips, at two different stores, five days apart?)
Another thing I've been asked today is whether or not I checked other area stores for similar expired products. I spent an hour at the Algonquin Meijer last week, and last night, I spent an hour and a half at the Huntley Jewel-Osco. I did not find a single expired product on the shelves during either of those visits. While any store may have rotation/expired issues from time to time, no shopper should be encountering hundreds of expired products during a single shopping trip.
I sincerely hope that ultimately, this does result in a safer, healthier, unexpired shopping environment for everyone at all Dominick's locations. And I also hope that Dominick's will really begin listening to their customers' concerns, no matter what those concerns are, when they bring them to the attention of their stores.
Lastly, if there is anyone reading this who truly questions my motivation in trying to shed some light on the issue of expired food at Dominick's, I'll leave you with this post that one of my readers wrote less than an hour ago:
I am glad that Jill did this.
Submitted by Melvin on Thu, 02/17/2011 - 19:23.
I am glad that Jill did this. I recently had a bad experience with Dominick's. I got sick from Sargento cheese that had expired over 2 months prior. I returned the cheese and they gave me a new package (do you know how difficult it is to load a 5,3 and 1 year old into the car with all their winter gear on to return an item). The next day I went to open a package of muffins and yet again these had expired more than a month before. I called customer service and filed a complaint. The woman assured me that the problem would be addressed and that employees are supposed to be checking the shelves to keep products fresh and up to date. No one wants to close down Dominick's. I really like alot of the employees at the Crystal Lake Dominicks. All we want to see is that we, as consumers, are listened to and that Dominick's will be proactive in solving this problem. I am sorry, but it is very difficult for me to check every item to make sure it has not expired. I tried for 3 months at 3 different Dominick's to buy Wholly Queso and every time I had to tell the Deli counter that they were all expired. This is a problem. The best way to run a store is to listen and address the needs of your customers.
UPDATE: Dominick's has released the following statement:
February 17, 2011
Dominick’s customers rightly expect they will find only high-quality, fresh products at all of our stores. Our organization is committed to meeting those expectations. While expiration dates on food products are largely based on quality, not food safety, that does not diminish the fact that we are displeased with the out-of-date products found at our stores. This is not indicative of how we do business. A high-level and highest-priority team has been assembled to immediately address these issues.
(I did not receive this from Dominick's directly, but two Chicago media outlets forwarded it to me, which I appreciate.)