Governor Urged to Sign Bill to Prevent Sale of Expired Baby Food and Over the Counter Medicine

Bill supporters display dozens of expired products recently purchased at Rite Aid stores 

(CA) A coalition of consumer, health, and children’s organizations joined Assemblymember Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) today on the steps of the Ronald Reagan State Office Building in Los Angeles to urge Governor Schwarzenegger to sign Assembly Bill 1512 (Lieu), which would outlaw the sale of expired baby formula, baby food and over-the-counter medicines. 

Indicating the need for this legislation, displayed at the press conference were dozens of expired baby food products and over the counter medicines purchased by volunteers over a one week period at California Rite Aid stores in late September to early October.

According to volunteers, of the 59 Rite Aid stores investigated, 24 were selling expired products ‘ a staggering 41%. Since only 10% of Rite Aid stores in California were sampled, hundreds, possibly thousands of expired products designed to nourish babies and alleviate various ailments likely remain on shelves for unsuspecting consumers to purchase.

‘California consumers should be entitled to purchase medications that are safe and effective and parents and children deserve assurances that their baby food is nutritional and healthy,’ said Richard Holober, Executive Director of the Consumer Federation of California (CFC). ‘Shockingly, we found that fully 41% of Rite Aid stores fail the test.’

AB 1512 (Lieu) – sponsored by the CFC – would prohibit a retailer from selling infant formula or baby food after the ‘use by’ date and require the same prohibition for the sale of expired over the counter pharmaceuticals.

‘Over-the-counter medicines, baby food and infant formula have expiration dates for a reason,’ said Assemblymember Lieu. ‘Parents who purchase expired formula and baby food beyond their expiration date put their children’s health at risk. In addition to the health risks, consumers who purchase expired medications discover they have wasted their hard-earned dollars on products that are no longer effective and may in fact be dangerous.’

Assemblyman Lieu’s legislation is in response to recent investigations by the Attorney Generals of New York and California that discovered many retailers were selling consumer products with expired labels. In some cases, the ‘sell by’ date was covered with price tags or other store stickers.

The ‘use by’ date serves an important health and safety function for baby food and infant formula. The date is the manufacturer’s guarantee that until that date, the infant formula or baby food, will contain the quantity of each nutrient as specified on the label and that the formula or food is otherwise of an acceptable quality.

AB 1512 is supported by a wide variety of consumer protection, senior citizen and health organizations, including the Consumer Federation of California, American Academy of Pediatrics, Consumers Union, California Alliance for Retired Americans, First 5 ‘ Los Angeles, Children Now, California Labor Federation, California Nurses Association, MOMS ‘ Make Our Milk Safe, and the International Formula Council.

The Governor has until October 11 to sign this legislation.