CHICAGO -- The Chicago Department of Consumer Services recently won judgments totaling more than $145,000 against 71 grocery and convenience stores for violating city laws, including those that prohibit the selling of outdated merchandise.
The judgments were the culmination of a two-month investigation completed during July and August. The citywide investigation featured inspectors visiting two randomly chosen stores in each of the 50 city wards to determine if businesses were offering outdated products and violating other laws by not posting policies [image-nocss] regarding check cashing, refunds and returns and not providing customers with written receipts with the date, store location and other required information.
As a result of the investigation, 85 citations containing 569 counts were issued. These include 68 citations for outdated merchandise, two for price marking, six for violating rules and regulations, one for selling outdated infant formula, seven for not having sealed scales and one for overcharging sales tax.
"Consumers should not have to worry about purchasing outdated and expired food products, especially infant formula, from any store," said Norma Reyes, Commissioner of the Department of Consumer Services. "Unfortunately, some stores are not as diligent as they need to be in removing these products from their shelves."
She added, "The best protection consumers have is checking the expiration date of any product they are going to purchase. This is especially true for lower volume items, such as cold medicines and items that have a longer shelf life, including canned goods."
Among the products that were available for sale the longest after their expiration dates were:Cold tablets (expiration date of November 2002). Tomato soup (December 2002). Salad dressing (January 2003). Mustard (March 2003). White rice (April 2003). Pain relief tablets (July 2003). Cough syrup (August 2004). Mayonnaise (August 2004).
According to Reyes, the investigation focused on independent grocers and c-stores because inspectors routinely visit larger stores.
From January through August of this year, the Department of Consumer Services has received 145 complaints regarding outdated food, two complaints of outdated infant formula, 39 complaints of no receipt issued, 163 complaints of overcharging and nine complaints of inaccurate scales.