Store sells food expired by 2 years, but it still might be OK to eat

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) Guy Wojtanowski called Eyewitness News after buying already expired food from a 99 Cents Only Stores location in Oildale.

A can of his favorite soup, Anderson's Tomato, was expired. One of them was dated as far back as October 2011.

"What are they going to do if somebody else buys it and gets sick?" wondered Wojtanowski. "Are they going to pay for their medical bills? No."

But, Wojtanowski could be mistaken on the danger posed by some expired food.

"It's more of a quality issue than a safety issue," said Mark Constantine, director of the Kern County Department of Public Health.

Constantine said the term "expired" can be misleading. A food item past the "sell by" date or "best by" date may be less than appetizing, but it won't necessarily make you sick.

"In many cases, especially in canned products, they can stay good, as far as food safety wise, for a long period of time," said Constantine. "Oftentimes, the quality will suffer, but if properly canned, they will survive for a long time."

Still, the system is not simply black and white.

"There are some judgment calls in purchasing that type of food. Clearly, if this had an expiration date of 2010, that's far beyond anything that's normal, and should be discarded, and is not a good practice," said Constantine.

He said it's important to use judgment.

"The best solution is to just not buy anything that is past that expiration date, because its misleading. We don't know whether it's an expiration date or a sell by date for quality reasons," Constantine said.

Under the law, the store is technically doing nothing wrong. But, Wojtanowski said he won't be shopping there anytime soon.

"All they want to do, (the only reason) they're there is to sell it. They don't care, and I don't like that," he said.