Can You Sue a Store for Selling Expired Food?

Have you ever bought an expired food item from the supermarket? When you are in a hurry, you might not check the label on a food product. Unfortunately, after consuming expired food, you might experience minor or severe side effects. If this happens, you might wonder about your rights and if you have legal recourse.
Can Stores Sell Expired Food?
  • The federal government does not require expiration labels on food products.
  • With the exception of baby food and baby formula, food products can be sold after the expiration date.
  • State governments can create their own regulations.
  • In the past, states have sued major retailers for selling expired food. The state can file a class action lawsuit against a food manufacturer.
What is the Purpose of a Food Expiration Date?
  • The expiration date is an estimate of the item’s freshness.
  • The expiration label does not determine the safety of the food items.
  • Usually, some food items are safe to eat a few days after the expiration date. If you do not want to take the risk, you may want to avoid expired foods altogether.
How to Deal With Expired Products
  • If you accidentally purchase an expired food item, you should consider returning the item to the store.
  • Do not eat expired food. The store should give you a refund or an exchange if you purchased the food after the expiration date. Contact the store manager and the corporate office if they refuse to reimburse you despite proof of receipt with the date of purchase. You can also contact the manufacturer.
  • Consider filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, the FDA and the state attorney general that the store sold expired food, especially if it caused you sickness.
What if the Food Item Makes You Sick?
  • Sometimes, expired food products can make you sick. If the manufacturer or the retailer is responsible for your illness, you might be entitled to financial compensation.
  • Product liability laws hold distributors and manufacturers accountable for their faulty products, including expired food that causes illness.
The Burden of Proof
  • The outcome of a lawsuit will depend on the extent of your injuries.
  • To win your case, you will need to prove that the product caused your illness.
  • You must understand that the expiration date might not be enough to support your product liability lawsuit.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
  • An attorney will need to see your proof of injuries.
  • You might not win your case if your resulting illness is minor. For example, if you consumed spoiled milk which only gave you a stomach ache for a few hours.
  • The illness must have caused major side effects, and as a result negatively impacted your financial health. For instance, if you were admitted to the hospital for a few days, you might have cause for a lawsuit.
A Phoenix personal injury lawyer may be able to help you pursue legal action against the food distributor or the manufacturer. An experienced attorney can help you understand your local food safety laws. In addition, a lawyer can help you recover damages associated with a serious case of food poisoning or illness from expired product.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Lorona Mead LLP for their added insight into personal injury practice.