Local grocery store re-labeling expiration dates - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

2/8/10

NewsChannel 11 Investigates: Local grocery store re-labeling expiration dates

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By Brittany Pieper  - bio | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - When you go to the grocery store, you trust what you buy is safe, but one woman got quite a scare when she got home. A South Plains mom bought Pork Tenderloin from the Sam's Club in Lubbock, but noticed something wasn't quite right with the expiration date sticker.

"I just pulled it out one morning to get it ready to cook for supper that evening, and I was just playing with it. The sticker was just like this, and I got to noticing that there is on the edge here it looked like two stickers," said Destiny Mattson. Destiny peeled the expiration date sticker off, and what she found shocked her. The meat she thought didn't expire until January 18th, had previously been marked with a December 24th expiration date sticker.  "If they've done this with this item, how many more items have been marked like this? I've spent a fortune on meat at that store, and I'm scared to death. Have I fed my kids rotten meat?," said Mattson. 

Mattson called Sam's to ask about the double sticker. "They said it was standard practice. It was perfectly legal, but if I didn't want it then I could bring it back if I wanted, but I would be wasting my time," said Mattson. 

NewsChannel 11 wanted to know how standard the practice really is. We went back to Sam's and found another double labeled product. However, we also found a product with two labels side by side which is the correct way to re-re-lable a product. Sam's corporate office in Arkansas released this statement regarding the issue, "We take these situations very seriously. We have processes in place to ensure we offer our members the highest quality products by consistently monitoring our selection of fresh and refrigerated food."

The Texas State Health Department says retailers do have discression to extend a products shelf life, but they can't put a new sticker over an old one. NewsChannel11 also checked with the City of Lubbock Health Department. The Health Department stated, because Sam's stored the product in airtight packaging and refrigerated it; as long as someone cooked the meat properly it should be safe even weeks after the original expiration date.

However, re-labeling is still against the rules. "Absolutely. We would mark this as a violation if we were inspecting this establishment at this time," said Stevan Walker with the Lubbock Health Department. The Health Department says even if it isn't dangerous, it does bring up other issues. "Raw products, it's a quality type of thing. So obviously the quality, the longer we have it out there, the more the quality is going to decline," said Walker. 

It's an issue for Mattson, who plans to do her shopping elsewhere. "Until they fix the way they do their business, I'm not buying my meat at Sam's anymore," she said. 

NewsChannel 11 wanted to see if this happened anywhere else so we also checked two other major grocers in town, but we did not find any double labels there.

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