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CBS 5 Advocate

Supermarkets should take returns if selling outdated food

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GLENDALE, AZ (CBS5) -

A Glendale woman says she found out-of-date food in her supermarket purchase and the store won't let her return it. The Fresh & Easy location is now closed, but she thinks the company should still give her a refund.

Whenever you buy food at the supermarket, you expect it to be well before it's "use by" date. But if it's not, is it a mistake or normal practice and should you expect a refund?

"Everybody should be a label-reader," Kathi Roe said.

Roe bought several food items at the Fresh & Easy supermarket on 35th Avenue and Greenway in Phoenix. The location is now closed, but Roe made it in just in time for their mid-September closing sale. She brought home nearly $400 worth of groceries.

"I was just checking some of the boxes, and I had quite a few items that were out-of-date, some even four months," Roe said.

Like a box of Puffins cereal, dated for May 2013, or a can of coffee dated April 2013, or an ice cream cake that was two months past it's 'use by' date. Roe says there was a posted sign in the store that said 'all sales final', but she still expected to be buying fresh food. She brought the items back and asked for a refund.

"I have products that I noticed that were four months expired, and they were like, we can't help you, all sales are final, the store's closing," Roe said.

Roe's not happy. She wonders if the product quality has deteriorated and if older, out-of-date food can be a safety concern.

"I was pretty disturbed, and I thought, if it's happening to me, how many other products are out there are expired as well," Roe said.

She feels supermarkets have the responsibility to provide fresh food, even if they are closing.

"We can come to you and be able to walk away with good food, quality food, and feel safe about it," Roe said.

You should expect a refund if a store sells you outdated food. Supermarkets are supposed to pull outdated food off the shelves. It doesn't matter if they're closing, so if you buy outdated food, that's a stocking mistake. The return policy should not matter and the store should give you a replacement or refund, no questions asked.

After CBS 5 News contacted Fresh & Easy, that's exactly what they did. The company apologized for the misinformation in the store, and they gave our viewer a refund on all her outdated items.

Always read labels carefully, but you should know that most foods, other than meat and dairy, are safe to eat weeks or even months past their 'use by' dates.

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