Expired food at Dominick’s: Second in a series

By / 4 years ago / Shopping News / 15 Comments

(If you haven’t already, please read Part One of this story, in which we found 425 expired food products at one Dominick’s location.)

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:

(Update: My ENTIRE YouTube channel was deleted after I posted videos of Dominick’s expired food — I lost all of the videos I created from 2008 until now. I can only suspect the long arm of a certain legal team had my entire SuperCouponing YouTube channel shut down, which is extremely upsetting. YouTube has not responded to my repeated requests to restore my channel.)


Here’s the full list of 336 expired products we found on 2/15/11 at this Dominick’s location.

Product Date expired Quantity
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 Walnuts 1/21/10 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
Safeway Mayo 12/30/10 16
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
Trix cereal 1/16/11 2
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
Safeway Pretzels 1/31/11-2/15/11 6
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

Notes:

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…


Reactions:

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:

OFFICIAL 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.)

Read Part Three of this story.

15 Comments

  • Pepsi4Power17. Feb, 2011

    My latest money making scheme had been blown out of the water again by that Coupon Raven . . .

    I used to always go into Doms and seek out the products with the oldest expiration dates and opt to buy the unexpired product. I’d then walk right back in and take the product off the shelf to the customer service desk and complain, showing my receipt, that I had just bought this and it is outdated (while the good stuff was really in my car). I would show them how a lot of the that product was outdated and they had no choice but to believe me and promptly return my money.

    What a MONEYMAKER!!!!!!

    Actually . . . before anyone believes this . . . it is a joke . . . as that is stealing . . . however . . . if you laid out cash for an expired product only to find out it expired last year . . . wouldn’t you feel like they just stole your money???????

  • totallyfrugalmama17. Feb, 2011

    I noticed this when an older man told me he couldn’t believe there was expired mayo on the shelves. I know that all stores (even Walmart) have an inventory control system to check this. This is really a food and safety issue that should not be overlooked. You found this at your store, I found the same at my store. This is systemic…and not just isolated to one Dominicks store.

  • LilBlossom17. Feb, 2011

    What baffles me is that the employees don’t pull the stuff off the shelves when it gets close to expiration date. When I used to work for Aldi, I had to check the expiration date on everything that was on the shelves and they worked with a very strict first in, first out system. I was never allowed to put the new stuff on top, but I had to take the old stuff out, put the new stuff in and then the old stuff back on top. And with mayo, that gets heavy! *lol* Everything that was shelf stable had to have a MINIMUM of 2 weeks until expiration. Once it hit that magic number, our manager would pull it and sell it as clearance.

  • cg117. Feb, 2011

    Think about how easy it would be if they pulled this stuff when a customer reported it. It’s too typical that they only scramble when they’re concerned the publicity from a blog or news crew will reflect badly on the company. How about having that concern for a regular shopper who isn’t going to blog but has pointed out a problem to a store employee?

    Out of date/expired products are a problem not just at Dom’s but many places. The difference is the way it’s handled. I’ve found expired frozen foods and orange juice on past visits to Jewel. The difference when I reported it to an employee in that department is they got right on it and apologized. One was even embarrassed since they’d just pulled expired juice from the shelf as part of their regular duties so customers didn’t run into this.

    Another part of the problem is when dates aren’t used and like the meatballs you are stuck calling corporate with a code off the package after you’re sick.

  • montag17. Feb, 2011

    Way to go Jill!!! Shame on Dom for even saying you were trying to get back at them for not accepting expired coupons. When I read the first part of the article I was horrified. I work in the healthcare industry and the thought of that expired food being sold made me angry. Hasn’t Dom heard of listeria, botulism, e-coli or salmonella? These are all food borne diseases, and they may not harm a healthy individual but these microorganisms can kill an infant, the elderly, and the immunocompromised individual. There is a reason they put expiration dates on the food, Dominick’s so that people don’t get sick, and blaming Jill for your sloppiness is just unfair. I hope that things change for the better and not just with Doms bur in every store. I also think that the expiration dates should be in larger print so that we can see that it is expired right off the bat. Think of your grandparents trying to read the small print or the leagally blind person. Thank you Jill for all that you do, and no that you have an entire hospital of people behind you, because we see the worse that can happen and hopefully this will change things for the better.

  • poetangel17. Feb, 2011

    It’s not difficult – when I worked at Jewel we had a schedule of “code checks.” I personally would check the shelves for expired products. Every two weeks it was another aisle, and of course when you work dairy you had to check all products as you worked them. I was always aware of what items were slow movers so I could check dates. I’ve definitely noticed this problem at Dom’s (my brother and I would text each other photos of BAD food when either of us was shopping there) and am glad it came to light. And as other commenters have said – your motivation is health & safety, not a vendetta due to not accepting expired coupons.

    And even if it was….we are all better off!

  • Outlander17. Feb, 2011

    I think it is ridicoulos for them to say that this has anything to do with expired coupons. I don’t think anyone is really upset about them not taking expireds, but rather about the WAY they did it, just stopping midweek without any notice.

    When it comes to exp. food at my local Dom., yes, I have also found exp items. I think the oldest was a jar of jam about a year past exp date.

  • mrsjd218. Feb, 2011

    Rather than focus on the issue – expired foods – let’s attack the messenger – way to go, Dominick’s! It seems that the widespread inability of so many to refuse to accept personal responsibility has worked it’s way into Dominick’s management! Even IF this was about their change in coupon policy – which it so clearly is NOT – has Dominick’s even attempted to explain WHY there are items that are THREE YEARS OLD on the shelf? And, as for the comment about expiration dates being more about quality than food safety, even my local food pantry won’t accept food that is expired.

  • mrsjd218. Feb, 2011

    . . . that there will soon be signs keeping picture/video out of their stores.

  • soapboxtray18. Feb, 2011

    I wasn’t able to watch last night but thanks for posting the video. Hopefully they will address the issue and any other stores that this is a problem with will wake up as well. I hope they can get on the ball and give some of the close to expiration to the Food Pantries!!! :-) Anyway, I hope that we all can focus on a positive outcome. I really like Dominicks and the staff at my area stores, but seems corporate has some work to do to make them all consistent. Consistently good! Peace.

  • wireman197918. Feb, 2011

    I wonder if the “high-level and highest-priority teams” that Dominick’s has deployed to their area stores to “immediately address these issues” are in fact Haz-Mat teams? And if these teams are made up of their current corporate and management employees I think we are truly talking about a lost cause. I hope it isn’t the drone they have “answering,” monitoring and deleting their Facebook posts! Unless they are actually going to delete the expired foods in their stores, that is!

  • HappyMom8819. Feb, 2011

    Clearly, Dominicks does NOT know Jill. I have only been with your blog for a year and value your ethics. Really, Dominicks…That is a low blow. It was not like Jill went into the store looking for products that were going to expire the next day or just expired the day before. Clearly, as anyone can see for themselves by just visiting those locations, many not all of the products, have been on the shelves for over two years. That is two or more years of ignorance and poor management at store, middle and corporate levels.

    Like I said before…only the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

    The CONSUMERS speak! and rightly so.

    Woohoo for internet!

  • samanthagabhart19. Feb, 2011

    I used to work for Dominick’s when I was in high school and some in college. I come from a long line of Dominick’s employees…being that my original store manager knew and had worked with my grandfather in the very first stores Dominick’s ever opened.

    Shortly after Safeway bought out Dominick’s things started to go down hill with the management and how people were treated. Safeway even did a buy out of Dominick’s employees a couple years after I had left the company. I left a comment on the FB page responding to the president’s post, and it was deleted.

    All I commented on there was those responsible for making sure that the expired food is pulled from shelves should be replaced by people who will do their jobs correctly, being managers and employees.

    There are too many people out there who are out of work that would happily take a job doing things the right way.

  • rachelflower20. Feb, 2011

    I am so impressed with your tenacity, Jill. Food safety is a super-important issue, and Dominick’s needs to be ever vigilant from this point on in order for customer to trust them to stock the freshest food.
    I like my Dominick’s, and am sad they’ve stopped taking expired coupons, but I want them to stay in business. They offer an alternative to Jewel, interesting, different products, and ultimately add competition to the market so we can get the best deals. Come on, Dominick’s, get your act together!

  • Rizrazz21. Feb, 2011

    I am so glad I found you Jill. I was at this Dominicks on Feb. 13th in order to buy some Lucerne Buttermilk. The majority of the cartons had sell by dates of Feb 7th. I wasn’t actually shocked because it is not the first time I have caught this at this location. I found ice cream that had a sell by dates 7 months previous. This is inexcusable. I sent emails to both Dominicks and Lucerne about this incident. Dominicks responded with their usual PC response email and have not heard from Lucerne. Keep up the good fight Jill. I’m with ya!!!

    Riz