Expired food at Dominick's: First in a series

Not long ago, one of my blog readers wrote to tell me about some frozen meatballs she purchased at Dominick's. She made them for her family, but when they sat down and began eating, everyone commented on how terrible they tasted -- "like plastic." They didn't finish their dinner, and she scoured the bag for an expiration date. Finding none, she called the manufacturer the next day. After reading a production code stamped into the bag, the manufacturer informed her that the meatballs had expired in 2007, and they "absolutely should not have been eaten" past that date.

While there are no laws in Illinois against selling expired food (unless it is baby formula or baby food,) the fact is that expired food at Dominick's is a rampant problem throughout many of their suburban stores. Nearly every day I read and hear stories of people buying expired products at Dominick's because they forgot to check the dates. I, and many other Dominick's shoppers, have been patiently trying to bring this issue to Dominick's corporate's attention for over a year. But after this reader shared her story with me, I couldn't stop thinking what might have happened to her if she or her family had gotten severely sick from eating meat that expired four years ago.

After hearing her story, I suggested she and I go back to her local Dominick's store (2411 Randall Road, Carpentersville, IL) and see if we could find other expired products on the shelves. The reader's best friend joined us, as she has also had problems with expired food at the Carpentersville location.

As we met at the store and talked, all three of us shared stories of having accidentally brought home one or two expired products from our local Dominick's stores more often than seemingly should be the case -- but when you're in a hurry and not taking the time to watch the dates, it seems to happen pretty frequently. What would happen when we actually began looking for expired products?

We intended to walk all of the food aisles and see what we found. We wondered if we'd fill up an entire shopping cart.

Instead, we filled three.

The three of us walked the aisles at the Carpentersville Dominick's, documenting everything we found. It added up to 425 expired food products in two hours. That works out to more than seven expired products found for every two minutes spent in the store.

Incredible. We knew Dominick's expired food problem was bad, but this bad?

Please keep in mind that we did not even make it through the whole store, only covering about four aisles. We did not make it to the bread aisle, the pop aisle, the dairy cases, the frozen cases, refrigerated meats or seafood, nor did we look at any drugstore-type products (personal care, medicine, and the like.) We only went through some of the packaged, bottled and canned food aisles.

Yet, we spent two hours in the store and filled three shopping carts with expired food. And some of it was very, very expired:

We carried a copy of the day's newspaper with us (February 10th, 2011) as proof of the date that these photos were taken. Click the photos to view the full-size, high-res photographs.

Two bottles of Bertolli Olive Oil, dated 2/28/09:

Twenty cartons of Kikkoman Soy milk, with expiration dates ranging from 12/11/10 to 1/29/11:

Fourteen boxes of Hamburger Helper, with dates ranging from 3/31/10 to 9/30/10:

Two bottles of Safeway Olive Oil, dated 8/28/09:

And, the oldest product we found... two cans of Clabber Girl Baking Powder with an expiration date of May, 2008:
(The third can at left expired in November, 2010.)

The three of us were absolutely floored by what we had found. And remember, we only made it through about four aisles of the store. After devoting two hours to this and filling three carts, we were pretty certain that if we each got new carts and continued through the store, we'd find more of the same.


Watch a video with additional expired products found during this trip:


Why aren't stores clearing expired inventory off the shelves, especially when there is so much of it? Why aren't any store employees walking the aisles to notice that the first jars of applesauce a shopper would pick up, on the front edge of the shelf, expired in August of 2010?

Dominick's shoppers on Facebook have been extremely vocal about the expired food problem in many locations around Chicagoland, and yet expired foods just sit, stagnating on the shelves. Shoppers on Dominick's own Facebook page have posted many other Dominick's locations where one would likely find similar results. I also imagine that many of these manufacturers would be interested to learn how long some of their products have been sitting on Dominick's shelves. Who is liable if someone gets ill from eating Hormel beef that expired in May of 2009?

Here's the full list of 425 expired products we found on 2/10/11 at this Dominick's location. As you look through it, note that this isn't necessarily a case of "one or two" forgotten products on the back of a shelf. 26 identical bags of rice cakes? 14 boxes of organic children's pasta? In the case of the Kool-Aid Fun Fizz all 64 packages on the shelf expired in November of 2010. And yes, there's expired baby food on the list too, which is the only category with federal regulations not to be sold after the date.


Product Date expired Quantity
Clabber Girl Baking Powder 5/1/08 2
Bertolli Olive Oil 2/28/09 2
Hormel Dried Beef 5/7/09 4
Safeway 500ml Olive Oil 8/28/09 2
Amore Anchovy Paste 3/1/10 12
Safeway Ranch Dressing Mix (boxed) 3/10/10 6
Hamburger Helper - Italian Sausage 3/31/10 1
A1 Black Peppercorn Steak Sauce 5/18/10 8
Hamburger Helper - Italian Sausage 5/23/10 2
Hamburger Helper - Italian Sausage 5/31/10 1
Near East Couscous 6/11/10 2
Girard's Champagne salad dressing 6/25/10 9
Near East Chicken Provencal Gourmet Meal kits 7/5/10 6
Near East Mediterranean Herb Gourmet Meal kits 7/5/10 9
Citrus Champagne salad vinegar 7/9/10 1
Crosse & Blackwell Zesty Remoulade 7/16/10 1
Safeway Gravenstein Applesauce 8/3/10 4
Kern's Guava Nectar 8/26/10 4
Hamburger Helper - 4 Cheese Lasagna 9/28/10 2
Hamburger Helper - 4 Cheese Lasagna 9/28/10 3
Hamburger Helper - 3 Cheese 9/30/10 5
Safeway Select Pretzels 9/30/10 2
Girard's Raspberry salad dressing 10/1/10 3
Quaker Quakes rice cakes 10/10/10 26
Quaker Chewy Granola Bars 10/11/10 9
Annie's Organic Bunny Pasta with Yummy Cheese 10/15/10 14
Betty Crocker cake mixes (on an endcap for current sale) 10/17/10 2
Safeway Select Pretzels 10/28/10 2
Betty Crocker cake mixes (on an endcap for current sale) 10/29/10 1
Clabber Girl Baking Powder 11/1/10 1
Nature's Path Organic toaster tarts 11/3/10 4
Quaker True Delights 11/15/10 2
O Organics Green and Herbal tea bags 11/17/10 10
Safeway Chocolate Artificially Flavored Milk Mix 30oz. 11/21/10 1
Kool-Aid Fun Fizz tablets 11/30/10 64
Safeway Orange Marmalade 11/30/10 5
Safeway Shelled Walnuts 12/3/10 4
Cary's Sugar-Free Syrup 12/8/10 1
Michele's Maple Crème Syrup 12/10/10 5
Safeway Iced Tea Lite 12/10/10 2
Safeway Mint Jelly 12/10/10 5
Safeway Select Extra-Virgin Olive Oil 12/10/10 4
Kikkoman Pearl Soy Milk 12/11/10 8
Safeway Mandarin Oranges 12/11/10 2
Safeway Mandarin Oranges 12/14/10 2
Safeway Select Extra-Virgin Olive Oil 12/17/10 2
Annie's Organic Canned "Arthur" kids' pasta 12/18/10 7
Keebler Pepper-Jack Cheese crackers 12/25/10 8
Safeway Select Extra-Virgin Olive Oil 12/26/10 2
Kraft Italian Viniagrette salad dressing 1/4/11 4
Planter's canned nuts 1/7/11 1
Murray's Sugar Free Cookies (vanilla) 1/8/11 4
Safeway Lite Butter Microwave Popcorn 1/8/11 1
Blue Diamond Hazelnut Thins 1/10/11 3
Gerber Whole Wheat baby cereal 1/10/11 2
Barnum's Animal Crackers Snak-Saks 1/11/11 12
Café Gluten-Free bars 1/11/11 27
Eating Right Pomegranate Cranberry and Mango juices 1/11/11 9
Kraft Light Ranch dressing 1/13/11 2
Good Earth tea bags 1/14/11 1
Almond Breeze almond milk 1/15/11 7
Cheerios 1.1oz. Canisters (baby aisle) 1/17/11 7
Ritz Munchables 1/25/11 1
Reduced Fat Ritz Crackers 1/27/11 1
Kikkoman Pearl Soy Milk 1/29/11 12
Safeway Whipped Dressing (mayonnaise) 1/30/11 9
Annie's Organic Snack Bunnies snack mix 1/31/11 1
Beech-Nut Baby Cereal 2/1/11 2
Gerber Smart Nourish baby food cups (peas, beans) 2/1/11 3
Safeway Shelled Pecans 2/3/11 5
Barilla Tortellini 2/4/11 3
Lance cheese & crackers 2/4/11 2
Girard's Caesar salad dressing 2/5/11 2
Safeway Bold steak sauce 2/7/11 11
Safeway Olive Oil & Balsamic salad dressing 2/7/11 6
Betty Crocker frosting 2/8/11 1
Safeway Italian Dressing 2/9/11 2
TOTAL: 425

Notes:

Before we went inside, we noted that there are no signs or notices posted anywhere at the Carpentersville 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 one of the photos, several bottles of VitaminWater are visible near the cart basket. These were not expired and were purchased by one of my readers (yes, we did all buy something during this shopping trip. I purchased some greeting cards and the copy of the Daily Herald seen in these photos.)

Since this trip:

My reader went back to do her grocery shopping on Sunday, 2/13 (yes, she is still shopping at this Dominick's!) An employee who was in the store when we presented the expired carts on Thursday night came over and apologized for the amount of expired product we had found on the shelves. He told the reader, "They really don't want this to end up on the blogs." She told him that she herself did not have a blog, but anyone who reads any local coupon blog, or Dominick's own Facebook page, already knows how bad the problem is with expired food on the shelves at Dominick's. The employee then said to her, "You want to see expired? You should go to Lake in the Hills!"

Guess where we headed next. Continue reading Part Two of this story.


This information scares me.

This information scares me. Food safety must be strictly implemented in all wet and dry markets. Both consumers and market managers are responsible for the checking and rechecking of the food and most especially, the food expiration date. The expiration date that seems on packaged food is complicated to a lot of people, largely as a result of phrases used, such as “Best Before”,“Sell By” or “Use By.” Be very keen on these important info when buying food.

CAUSING A STIR

Jill, you must be causing quite a stir around town! With this stuff on Dominicks hitting the news, alot of other stores seem to be tidying up their shelves.

I just went tonight to Walmart and saw two men with flashlights on the floor setting MOUSETRAPS with peanut butter. Not an appetizing thought!

Thanks for all your hard work.

Out-of-code pie in the sky

I've worked for Dominicks for longer then most people have been alive. For those of us who have been around since before Safeway came in let me say it breaks our hearts when we see what has happened to Dominick's. They took what was an outstanding chain of well over a hundred stores and turned it in to what you see today. If anyone wants to see what Dominicks would look like today just go to Arlington Heights and visit Mariano's impressive store. Actually, while you're there say "Hello" to a lot of former Dominick's employees.
My idea is probably pie (out of code)in the sky wishful thinking but I was wondering if anyone thought Safeway would respond to a petition drive to ask them to sell Dominicks. If enough people responded and with the news media connection that Jill has who knows, it might get traction. Could you imagine the headlines in Crains? "SHOPPERS WANT DOMINICKS SOLD"
BTW I doubt the existance of a notice to detain you however since I have been watching 'COPS' for about 40 years I do know that if they tell you not to shop at their stores then they could have you arrested for trespassing. I don't think being banned from the big "D" would be that big of deal. I work there but I never shop there.....I go to Wal mart.

We can dream.

Mariano tried to buy Dominick's in 2003, the way Dominick's is falling there may be a sale in the near future. It would be so sweet to have Bob back in charge, successfully competing with Jewel (Meijer, Target, etc.). I visited Pick N Save up in Wisconsin and I swore I walked into Dominick's 20 years ago.

Pie in the sky

Even with all my seniority I would give it up in a heart beat to be part of a grocery chain of the future. Our union is pretty much useless anyway. When I went to visit the Mariano's I felt like I used to feel when I would work grand openings for Dominick's. It seemed like the employees were genuinely happy to be there. Not like at Dominick's where all we get are threats if we fail a stupid "secret shopper" shop. I have forgotten how it feels to be happy about going to work. The only thing Dominicks is to me is a very small paycheck with very mediocre benefits. THANKS STEVE BURD. Please sell us!

THANK YOU for showing this industries dirty little secret

I stock for the leading local chain in Sacramento area. I've done this for 20 years. This has always been a problem. The companies try so hard to reduce labor costs by making stockers work faster than they should. One of the first practices they drop is proper rotation. They simply cannot meet expected target speeds and properly rotate at the same time. The last year has been particularly bad. We were threatened with disciplinary action (and some with termination) if new target figures in a newly started productivity program were not met. When your job is on the line, and targets cannot be met while properly rotating, employees just stop rotating. As a direct result of your articles and the media attention, I have seen a company email circulating about how to tackle this problem in our chain. This never would have occurred with just employee or customer complaints. THANK YOU. THANK YOU.
I did find it interesting that most of the same products you found expired at Dominicks are the same products I always find expired at my workplace. Boxed baby food, Kraft Mac n cheese, Quaker granola bars, hamburger helper are among the most frequent that I find and frequently are delivered to the store already expired. All generic store brands seem to carry shorter codes. Always check the dates.

You have got to be joking!!!

This is just terrible. I NEVER check exp dates and can't believe that these grocery stores are allowed to sell these products. I have linked this blog to all the food sites I use. The only way DOMINICKS is going to sort out this problem is when we hit them in the pocked and SHOP ELSEWHERE! Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

To the skeptics who think "all stores" have some expired foods

What you don't understand is how bad the problem with expired food is at Dominick's. It is unlike every other store I ever have seen.

Imagine a store where the expired products outnumber the ones that are not past their date. That is the reality of shopping at Dominick's. Like another person said if 3 out of every 4 foods on the shelf are expired is this a place you would want to shop?

Go to the Orland Dominick's and look at the shelves today. There's hardly anything left. Clean out the expired and the shelves are bare behind 1 row of foods set up at the edge of the shelf but there is nothing behind them. It looks like over 70% of the stock was removed for being expired.

Shopping there was like bizarro world where everything outdates in 2009-2010. But one kid working yesterday said they found food that expired 2006 in there.

The skeptics have no clue how bad this is. This is not an every grocery store problem, it is a Dominick's problem. Maybe they want to eat 5 year old expired food and they want shoppers to, but the Illinois Food Bank won't even accept donating after the date on the package. You can't donate expired food.

I am glad that Dominick's is finally going to be cleaned up. My child has special diet needs and health issues and any case of food poisoning could be lethal for her.

Walmart, Kroger, Fred Meyer, Albertsons...same story...

First of all, I'll clearly state - It's not OK to sell expired products. Don't be naive though, this is a universal issue in big grocery stores (at least). I have not yet gone into a host of other stores to see for myself, but I plan to. If you were to Google "(Any of the above stores) expired products" you will find "expired products" issues at all of the above stores, and most likely, every big grocery selling store that you search. Singling out one "brand" - Dominicks - seems to be rather irresponsible reporting when anyone reading this can see for themselves that there are expired product issues throughout all the big names. So...you can judge Dominicks if you please and shop somewhere else, but remember to check those expiration dates. That new store your shopping at has bad dates too...

While it may be true

While it may be true that there may be, I'll even go as far to say probably is, expired products on the shelves at other stores shelves. The first problem is the large amounts found at Dominick's. The second problem is the action taken when informed of the expired product.

Now I personally have found expired product at Dominick's.
I purchased some yogurt and realized later that night that the sell by date was 2 days earlier. I returned the next day for an exchange, not a problem, except all of that yogurt had the same sell by date. I informed CS and got a refund. The next week I looked at the same yogurt and it was still the same sell by date that I told them about.

I have found expired product in another store, not Dominick's, and told an employee stocking in the next aisle and they stopped what they were doing and went right over and started going thru the product to get any expired items off the shelf.
Did I mention that the employee even apologized to me for finding it, and then CS apologized before I left.

Dominick's is far worst than most

I agree with what you said about all stores having some things expired sometime but Dominick's is known for horrendous amounts of expired on the shelf. It is not like other stores and if you read the comments over the past few days you would see that. Open your eyes.

My local Dominicks has almost nothing left on the shelf now that the expired things are being taken out. Hundreds and hundreds of things with 2 and 3 year old expiration dates. my daughter's friend works there and she said they are over 30 cartloads of expired since yesterday. She said they never rotate stock, ever! She has worked there for two years and this is the first time ever they are clearing out expired since she started and only because its in the media. The manager is upset they finally got called out on it.

This is not about judging. If you shop there and 3 out of 4 things you pick up are expired you would understand how bad it is. Yes it really is that bad.

JILL VERY IMPORTANT, STAY OUT OF DOMINICK'S

I work at a Dominick's. Our store has a memo that I think all stores have now. It has your picture on it with the other 2 ladies you shopped with. All the stores are told to DETAIN ALL OF YOU if any of you come in the store and call a special number to corporate. If you come into a store you better have a news crew with you because everyone has been told not to let you leave if you come in and our manager said lock the doors if we have to.

THIS IS NOT A LIE. I am not kidding and I think it's really sad that this is how they are acting. Because you know what you were right. They are scared of teh truth and you told nothing but the TRUTH! OUR STORE IS FULL OF EXPIRED FOOD! We have filled 22 carts with expired food and they are still working on it. Not even close to done. It is nobody's job to rotate stock at all, and that is because of Safeway telling us how many hours we can spend on it. There are not eough hours for 2 people at night to do that whole store so for years it sits.

I need my job so I can't say what store I work for but trust me the memo. It has a security camera picture on it and YOU WILL BE DETAINED if you come in. I made a copy to scanner and email to you when I am home, this is posting from my phone. Remember the expired food is SAFEWAY'S fault.

Illegally Detain?

Under what grounds? Trespassing? Wouldn't they have to charge her with something first? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the only way you can be detained in this country without a charge is under the patriot act, which detains *suspected* terrorists. Would Dominick's accuse Jill of "economic terrorism"? LOL! Dominick's then could be accused of "biological terrorism" with some of the foods they sell!

have you

have you gotten a copy of this yet Jill? Let's hope you do.....lawsuit material!

Please post when you get it!!

Do it!

Let them detain you illegally and you'll OWN Dominick's and it can finally get turned around the right way.

About a month ago the self-check out lady at my local Dom's flipped out when she saw someone taking pics of a display up front (my first thought was coupon books, but it wasn't, lol) and sent someone to stop them. If they were that paranoid THEN, I can only imagine what they're like now.

WANTED...

Excellent public relations firm with experience in crisis management. Candidates must be willing to deal with corporate executives completely lacking in integrity. In lieu of cash, fees to be paid in expired grocery merchandise.

LOL please. No corporation in

LOL please.

No corporation in the US would illegally detain anyone in this way, nor would they issue a written memo to that effect that could easily be leaked to the press. Even if she robbed the place (which she didn't). No, not even Dominicks.

Worst they would do is ask her to leave.

Detain her. LOL! NOT!

In your opponion

has Safeway made many "smart" PR decisions lately?

Actually...

This is the not the only report I've received from a Dominick's employee today about a memo with our photos on it, with instructions who to call if any of us enter the store. I have two other emails about this that, unless these are all being written by the same person, are describing the same details on the memo. It sounds ridiculous. I'm waiting to see a copy.

Bodyguards!

Jill, if you need to go back in, just let us know. I'm sure that many of us, including me, would go in with you, and we'd put you in the middle of the protective circle! LOL!

Protection

Yes Jill we'll protect you!! I'm a mean lean workout machine and very well put together! I've got more muscle on my body than many men and I'm a woman. Just let us know. LOL.

Black Belt

My longtime readers may remember this, but the reason our "black belt" deals kind of got that name is because I have one!

And I know what you mean about the more muscle thing, especially if you work out regularly. I trained for and took my black belt test while pregnant with my second son. It's a grueling, 4-hour test. Had to tease the men in the class a bit when they said they were getting tired & I pressed on - and they weren't the one carrying a baby in their bellies.

You don't need a black belt

You don't need a black belt to shop at Dominicks, even if your picture is on their internal memos.

The INSTANT an employee touches you in any manner they are guilty of assault & battery. Not only don't you need to fight back, but you absolutely should not do so. You just need to dial 911, report an attack, and have them arrested. Then hire a lawyer to sue.

The 'best' they can do is to order you to leave the store and not come back. Unless I missed a post here, they have not done so yet, so they would have no grounds to charge you with trespassing, as their stores are public places.

I can't believe their PR would be dumb enough to do something like that. OK, maybe I could believe it. "SHOPPER BANNED FROM STORE FULL OF EXPIRED PRODUCTS" would make great headlines. But if they were that stupid, I'm sure there are plenty of folks here, me included, that would be glad to wander through the local store looking for expired items or anything else. They can't ban all their customers, or their stores really would be empty.

Not to mention you DO still blog Dominick's deals, and if they ban you, you would have to drop that, which amounts to free advertising for Dominick's. In spite of this issue, I'm sure you are a net positive for Dominick's business. At least up until not.

What every store ought to do is recognize you when you walk in, ask you if you found any problems, and if there is anything they can do to improve their shopping experience. I'm sure you'd tell them, and then they would be getting free consulting.

Not true

J.R. What you say isn't true. Of course security personnal have the right to detain shoplifters. I once helped a Dominicks security officer handcuff a woman who was walking out with a cart full of unpaid groceries. That's NOT to say I believe that Jill is in any danger of being detained. But making blanket statements is not helpful either.

Awesome

Jill, that is so awesome!! Very interesting indeed. You gotta luv it!!

Well, they certainly are not

Well, they certainly are not going to illegally detain you, nor do I believe any memo saying you were to be detained you was ever issued. You are a smart lady and I can't imagine you would believe that either.

A memo saying you should be escorted from the store? That, I can believe.

You would think after all of this they would want you in their stores. Nothing to hide, right? You can do an in-depth follow up of how well and quickly they've addressed the issue?

Right.

I do have nothing to hide. Neither should they.

I agree that if stores are being told to lock the doors to detain any of us, of course that is illegal. Escorted from the store? Very possible. That's why I'm waiting to see it before I comment further.

two things

Last time I checked the Illinois statutes, unlawful restraint (such as detaining someone for no reason) was a crime.

I'm rather disappointed in myself for not calling the police when a cashier at the Joliet Dominick's ripped the coupon books out of my hand. By doing that, I probably could have gotten my photo on a Dominick's "Wanted" memo. :)

Lastly, is the Better Business Bureau aware of this mess? Is Dominick's even a member of the BB.

Assault or battery

I remember reading your story. If cashiers are physically removing coupon books and cellphones from people's hands (there's a story about that in the comments for the fourth part of this story) then it would be something prosecutable.

(No memo yet, by the way, for those who have been asking.)

So ridiculous...

By posting the Dominick's deals, Jill sends THOUSANDS of customers to Dominick's every week. If this is true it is the most absurd thing I have ever heard. HEY JILL, YOU ARE UNDER HOUSE ARREST FOR EXPOSING ALL OF OUR SHORTCOMINGS.

If it weren't for the fact that many of your readers like/prefer to shop Dominick's, it would seem that you should just stop posting Dominick's deals and let your readers shop elsewhere.

Don't you usually visit stores to confirm prices before DOTW?

I thought you usually visit the stores you write up for the deals so that you have accurate pricing and details. Guess they don't want you to write up the deals this week, huh? : )

On a totally separate note, since someone brought up Julia Roberts playing you like she did with Erin Brockovich, maybe when you finally have a face to face meeting with Dom's, you can serve them some of their food from the shelf and see if they would eat any. Come on, it's hexavalent chromium free!

Dominick's Deals of the Week

I have been doing so much media over the past few days (* more on that below) that I am -way- behind where I'm usually at in writing up the week's Deals. I pretty much lost three days this week. But yes, I usually do visit the stores on Sundays before I post the new Deals to verify all of the prices. Dominick's tends to have more in-store sales than are in the ad. If I'm not allowed in the store any more, their Deals writeup may unfortunately be shorter. (Not that they care -- I think they've grossly underestimated the power of social media and do not realize how much grocery bloggers influence their sales.)

With regard to your asking about the meeting, seeing as how Dominick's did not respond to my email over the past week prior to posting the expired food story on my blog, at this point, I doubt that face-to-face meeting will ever take place. If they could not find the time or resources to schedule it for an entire calendar year... will they ever?

----

* Media. I did a really interesting interview yesterday with a Los Angeles firm who has been watching the Dominick's situation with their Facebook page and my blog, as well as several other well-read savings blogs in Chicago over the past few months. And not just Dominick's -- expired food at other Safeway stores around the country too. They're doing a case study on the consequences of not responding to customers, especially vocal ones, who are utilizing social media and not watching for "peaks" of customers concerned about the same issue build.

They watched as the number of sites discussing the expired food problem was growing and growing - even on sites like Planet Feedback, which I hadn't looked at, as well as the blogs. They said that as the comments have continued to build and build, all saying the same thing with no response and no one acknowledging the problem, it was like a volcano waiting to explode. Interestingly too, they said that this story wasn't about me -- I was just the vessel through which the story finally broke. And with the issue building and building, if it hadn't been me, it could easily have been somebody else. Anyone could have gone into their store and done the same thing because the problem was so widespread.

They said that it's surprising that such a large corporation apparently had no one devoted to monitoring Dominick's "climate" on the web to take note of what people were saying about them and take action before the volcano erupted, especially in a world where everyone's cellphone has a camera on it and people can share their experiences with others in seconds.

It became what they called a textbook case study of what not to do when your customers are trying to talk to you, and those customers are all saying the same thing. Ignore them long enough, and eventually they will take their concerns to someone who will listen.

I have this hilarious mental

I have this hilarious mental picture of Jill dressed up like Betty Crocker complete with 50s hairdo, serving up a nice hot juicy plate of expired Fosters Farms chicken sandwiches to President Don...

LOL I can't get it out of my mind now!!!

TOO funny!!

I was just telling my husband about this situation, and how some people are saying that Jill did this because she was mad about no longer accepting the expired coupons, and he said something that totally cracked me up. He said, "Maybe they will let us use the expired coupons to buy the expired food!" heeheehee

DH right on

Rowdy,
You're husband may be on to something... LOL! =)

Expired food

Dominicks clearly brought this on themselves.

Anyone who has worked a food pantry knows that they don't even offer expired food to their patrons. The volunteers diligently check each item brought in for expiration. At the food pantries, we do not deem a person so low in their financial position as to warrant only expired goods; so, why does Dominicks treat their patrons with even less respect.

Even the health department won't allow expired products on the shelves in the schools.

So, why are we consumers subjected to this rude display of management? Do we need to see a change in corporate management, store management, better training for all store personnel or all of the above?

It most likely is a combination of corporate Dominicks not caring enough about the consumer to personally monitor their stores more closely. It is also poor management and training at the store level to allow or insist the stock persons to continue to leave expired products on the shelves hoping some unsuspecting non-date checking consumer will purchase it.

Kudos for the consumers and blogs like Jill's. Only the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Buyer BEWARE!

Did you know there is a site called "I Loathe Dominick's?"

Jill, echoing everything everyone else has said, a masterful job reporting and exposing what shopping at Dominicks is really like. Corporate has gotten a severe wakeup call. I wonder if they wish they had listened to you for the past year, this could all have been avoided and handled quietly. It is a shame that thousands of complaints were not enough, but TV News and the Tribune got it done.

Did you know there is a site for people who Loathe Dominick's?

The photos over there of moldy food on the shelves will have you screaming. Here's one a shopper took this morning!

http://www.lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?f=16&p=363194

Why are you still shopping at Dominick's?

We make it a definite habit to check expiration dates, especially with the toxic mold found recently in expired Cake mixes.
This C'ville location is very close as is the LITH location. My question is, with Woodmans, Walmart, Jewel, Caputo's, and Joseph's all nearby why is anyone still shopping at these two stores. When Woodman's opened up a few years ago, we were thrilled because we save a minimum of $50 per week EVERY week on groceries, for Christmas we received a Visa Debit card, Woodman's does not accept so we went to Walmart on Randall, our normal $160 bill was $108.00. These Dominick's are ghost towns the very few times we have shopped, with all of the unemployment and companies in Crystal Lake/Mc Henry County closing, why are smart shoppers not comparison shopping?
I just do not understand?

Understanding why

Hi shopw...that's just the thing, historically Dominick's does have great deals when you match up their sales with coupons and even better a catalina deal. Unfortunately, buying expired, inedible products really isn't a deal. This isn't about pricing...using Jill's methods you really can do much better at Dominick's than at Woodman's etc. but the issue is about the food being expired (sometimes by years) when you buy it.

I would look at the Archived Deals forum http://jillcataldo.com/node/11893 and read some of the past Deals of the Week posts, you'll see that you really can get great deals at Dominick's.

Comments I've removed today.

I always welcome a healthy discussion of any topic on my blog from all of my readers. However, today I have had to remove a few posts from this discussion as they violate the terms of my site -- verbal attacks, slurs, and cursing are not tolerated.

In the interest of full disclosure, I'll tell you what I removed and why:

- A post from a Dominick's employee cursing and calling me names.

- A post that accused me of being a racist, which included racial slurs. (Baffling, and for what it's worth, this person had my ethnicity incorrect.)

- Two posts that accused me of uncovering the expired food story specifically so that disabled people would lose their jobs, then went on and on about my supposed "crusade against the disabled." (Again, completely baffling - I've never posted anything like this. If I've crusaded against anything, it's only been that consuming expired food is a health issue, and removing it from shelves may prevent people from getting sick. I don't want to see anyone lose their job... unless, possibly, it was their job was to rotate stock and remove it from the shelves, and they weren't doing that. Given the widespread nature of the problem, I think many of us are of the impression that stock resetting didn't happen to be anyone's job.)

- A post that accused me of orchestrating my series of blog posts for the sole purpose of driving more traffic to my site so that I would "receive enough ad revenue to afford a tummy tuck." (This site is viewed by nearly 40,000 uniques each week. I'm not hurting for traffic in the least. As for ads, I've been blogging for nearly three years, and savings-related ads have always been present to support the cost of hosting my site, the hosting bills for which run in the high hundreds of dollars each month. If anyone would like to pay my hosting bill in exchange for an ad-free site, let's talk. Lastly, if you've ever met me, you'd also know that I'm so thin that my mom thinks I need to gain weight. Certainly no candidate for a tummy tuck.)

That's all. Healthy discussion = allowed. Attacks = not allowed.

Carry on.

Tummy Tuck

However; I would LOVE a tummy tuck, Jill, so keep me in mind for all that ca$h you are going to receive, okay? *heavy sarcasm*

Tummy tuck...

If it weren't so pathetic, the tummy tuck comment would be hysterical. Anyone who has met Jill knows that if she had a tummy tuck she would completely disappear :-)

To those posters that attacked Jill -

shame on you! Shame on you for making it personal. Jill has said time and time again this was never a vendetta against Dominick's, it's employees, their coupon policy or anything else except expired food. It was MY kids who were served those 2007 meatballs. Often as I would shop in my Dominick's I would tell the employees about expired items I would find and I would get that blank, "what do you want ME to do about it lady" look from them. Enough was enough and the rest is now a media frenzy.

As far as the nasty posts go:

“A post from a Dominick's employee cursing and calling me names.”
Of course he did - he's had to actually do his job since the story broke on the news. He's had to work really really hard clearing the shelves we didn't.

“A post that accused me of being a racist, which included racial slurs.”
Seriously? Do these people not know you teach your classes in multiple languages? Racist? I think not.

”Two posts that accused me of uncovering the expired food story specifically so that disabled people would lose their jobs, then went on and on about my supposed "crusade against the disabled.”
Seriously? No one is going to lose their job over this. It would not suprise me if people found themselves getting more hours for now while Dominick's scrambles to fix the PR mess they have created.

“A post that accused me of orchestrating my series of blog posts for the sole purpose of driving more traffic to my site so that I would "receive enough ad revenue to afford a tummy tuck."
This one actually made me laugh! Obviously they've never seen you in person - as you are thin as a rail! I agree with your mom - put on a pound or two would you? They also know nothing of your site as your site is free.

You don't get rich by the amount of traffic visiting your FREE website. You are rich in much more important things anyway - family, friends and the posters here that are grateful everyday you do what you do.

That is RIDICULOUS!

Jill,

Did you ever notice that people are happy to flame you on the internet, but in person don't have anything to say? UGH. Jill, we appreciate what you do SO much. The one point I really want to address is your "crusade against the disabled."

In October 2009 I came down with viral meningitis, but the headaches never resolved. I also had meningitis again in February 2010 and June 2010. Since then I have had persistent debilitating daily headaches, hospitalizations from meningitis and the severe headaches, and I have been unable to work. I lost my job and the bills were piling up.

Then I started couponing. I was okay at first, saving some money, but it wasn't making a big dent. I took your class, and our lives have been MUCH easier. It is the way that I can contribute, while being disabled, to my home. Your class assisted my family to continue to be able to pay our bills and still be able to feed our young daughter.

In addition to that, I also experience a weakened immune system. Your Dominick's scenario of being concerned about someone eating ancient food is with someone who is healthy. What about someone like me? I mean, that is terrifying. You ARE protecting the disabled. You ARE protecting those of us whose voices are not loud enough to be heard.

You are amazing and brave. Please do not let the few naysayers in the crowd get you upset.

Thank you for all that you do. We appreciate you in my family so much,

Leslie R.

You don't need to take

You don't need to take classes or spend money to learn couponing. All you have to do is read the coupon websites - most people there do all the match ups for you. It is easy as pie.

It drives me nuts to hear about people paying for couponing classes. That's outrageous. Couponing advice is FREE OF CHARGE, found easily on the net & you won't have to even get out of your pajamas to learn.

All you have to do is know how to read. And to have a note pad & preferably a calculator to take care of the rest.

I hope your headache/migraine situation gets better and you get relief soon.

As far as the expired products go - I can see SOME products being looked over but the amount that was posted on this website far exceeds what I think is reasonable.

Thanks for the investigative work, Jill. I will be more careful when purchasing food from now on. Because ultimately, we're responsible for what we put in our mouths. Obviously some stores aren't diligent in making sure their stock is unexpired.

Didn't CVS in California get in big trouble for consistently having expired foods sold at their store? If you find an expired item & bring it to the register - I think you can claim $2 in extrabucks OR cash. I forgot - I am not from Cali, so didn't pay too much attention.

They did get sued and had to pay out BIG money to the government, if I recall correctly.

No Dress Code for Jill's Classes

Most of Jill's classes are free and I am sure if you showed up in your PJ's no one would care.
Your birthday suit... now that might be stretching it a bit ;o)

Paying money for classes?

Jill offers most of her classes for free. I took her class free at a library. :)

I had been reading the coupon websites, but some of the tips Jill shared at the class saved me a ton more money.

And thank you for the well wishes, I do really appreciate it.

Don't need to take classes?

Cooper99... have you been part of Jill's blog for very long? Are you aware that in addition to posting deals on her blog, Jill regularly gives classes in couponing? I, personally, could never save as much as I am saving without having attended her two classes (which by the way are typically free of charge to attendees).

Strange that you would choose to advocate here that people don't need to take a class to learn to coupon. You should attend one of her classes. I think you'll find that you can maximize your savings beyond what you can just reading the websites. Here is a link to upcoming classes:

http://jillcataldo.com/node/10

Thank you.

Leslie, I'm so happy to hear that you are doing so well with your couponing, and stories like yours with regard to your weakened immune system make me even more confident that bringing this issue to light was absolutely the right thing to do.

And, I'm not upset by a few negative posts and emails. I've got a pretty thick skin. :) And, when you think about it -- the ONLY people who could possibly be upset about expired foods being removed from area supermarkets are the ones who have ties to the company.

I don't see any uproar from shoppers asking for those expired products to be put back on the shelf... do you?

Disgraceful

I'm shocked and appalled at some of the responses that have been posted. I'm disgusted by the vile things that are being said to Jill both on the blog, in the comments on the various news articles and I'm sure in her email. What astounds me though, is the people who are claiming (falsely) that Jill is out to "attack" Dominick's and shame on her for being so "mean" to them. Those SAME people then turn around and attack Jill in ways that are so vicious they can't even see "mean" from where they are.

You people (a little phrase I picked up from shopping at Dominick's I might add) have no idea about who Jill really is and what she stands for. If you did, you would hang your heads in shame and think twice before ever commenting on anything, anywhere, ever again. Jill is an ethical couponer, who spends an incomprehensible amount of time helping others to save money and donating tirelessly to her local food pantries and encouraging her tens of thousands of readers nationwide to do the same.

Much has been made in the media lately about "Extreme Couponers" with hoards of products they could never possibly use in their and any other lifetime. Perhaps those media outlets have cast a light on couponers in general and that has colored your opinion of who you mistakenly think Jill is. Jill doesn't flood her site with self-serving posts to generate scads of income to line her pockets. It is true, she does have a few content related ads to pay for this site that tens of thousands of people a week depend on to save money on their grocery bill. Do you really think that is building her a McMansion in which to store her "free food"? She does the minimum necessary to keep the blog and her classes free for everyone. Gee...what a terrible person she is for doing that...Get Serious!

In the interest of full disclosure, I did participate in this endeavor along with Jill and Prea and I'm proud of what we did. This and other blogs, along with Dominick's Facebook page have been filled with stories of people encountering hundreds of expired products for well over a year. Dominick's knew about it. They acknowledged that they were reading the responses to Jill's open letter to them. And yet they did NOTHING. Not even once in one store did anything change. And yet you find JILL to be at fault in this mess? Your venom is so grossly misplaced there aren't even words for it. Imagine just for a moment that it was YOUR mother, father, sister, brother or child that consumed food, meat in particular that expired FOUR years ago. What if they had become ill? What if they had died? Would you still feel this way?

No, you would also feel that the obvious decision by Dominick's to not only knowingly sell food well past its expiration date, but (as we know now from employees etc.) to actually purposely put it on sale to push it! That is indefensible...and anyone who thinks otherwise should have their head examined or has a vested interest in Dominick's regardless of the health and well being of their customers.

Thank you Jill for everything you do for others.