Buyer beware: Discount deals turning bad on store shelves

Buyer beware: Discount deals turning bad on store shelves

Buyer beware: Discount deals turning bad on store shelves


by Joe Conger / KENS 5

Posted on February 9, 2012 at 12:01 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 9 at 6:14 PM

SAN ANTONIO -- In an economy where every penny counts, 99 of them can go a long way at a discount store. The deals are sometimes almost too good to be true.

But a KENS 5 I-Team investigation found that sometimes the deals have expired before they even hit the shelves.

Discount stores offer great deals at low prices. That's what tempted Vanessa Morman. That... and Nestle’s Goobers.

"This is my favorite candy, unfortunately. I haven’t eaten it ever since," she said.

That's because the discounted Goobers became hard to swallow. Literally.

"I just went into the box and slammed them in my mouth like I normally do," she said. "And I looked down, and the whole box was squirming with maggots.”

Morman found insect larvae in the packaging. And, consequently, in her mouth.

"They were all over the candy, all mixed in with the candy. Some of them had nested. It was kind of like a Nestle’s nest," she said.

So just how prevalent are expired products in San Antonio’s discount stores? The I-Team made random visits to various stores in different parts of town and found expired products in all of the locations we visited.

We found toothpastes, creams and even hair-coloring products -- all expired.

We took the dollar’s worth of hair care to salon experts. They said you might not get the color you’re counting on with the expired product -- and it could get painful when you apply it.

“What would you be concerned about?” we asked.

“Burning of the scalp (and) irritation of the eyes, due to the fact that sometimes peroxides swell when it is expired," said Lucy Estrada at Foxy Lady Salon.

But there are expired products that could cause more harm than that. The toothpaste and creams we found were from September and October of last year.

“Those expiration dates are there for a reason: So that you don’t have things growing in the product that can hurt somebody," said pharmacist Chris Alvarado.

He examined our bag of dollar buys.

He said while hard pills -- like aspirin -- may last for years after their expiration date, their potency does not.

And beware of expired creams, liquids, pastes and gel-caps: They could see bacteria growth within the product when they go bad.

“I would not put anything -- now we’re talking sterility -- I wouldn’t put any expired items in your eye," he said.

We contacted the 99-Cent Only Store, where we bought expired pudding, sardines and cocktail sauce. It's also where Morman bought her bug-infested Goobers.

“Expired items should be pulled. It is not our intention to have expired products on our shelves, and we offer a freshness guarantee,”  a spokesperson said.

Morman didn't find an expiration code on the candy, she said. Instead, she found on the box of candy what the industry calls “Julian codes.” Yes, there’s an expiration date in there somewhere, but it is known only to the manufacturer and the store that sells the product.

“I don’t have these codes," Morman said. "I don’t have access to this information. So I wasn’t able to protect myself even if I tried."

Nestle’s admitted Vanessa’s Goobers were expired, and they offered a refund: All 99 cents.

She refused it.

Morman said she’ll only settle for a change in the way they code the candy.

And in the meantime, she'll only settle for another kind of snack food.