Saturday, July 18, 2009

Pathmark carries expired Baby Food

I buy Gerber Organic Baby Food for my daughter from my local Path Mark Store every two weeks. A month(in May-June time) or so back when I opened the Green Bean container that I had bought a day earlier, it didn't look quiet right.On checking the dates, we saw the expiry date on the product was Jan 2009 (i.e. the baby food had expired 4 months back). We promptly checked all the other Gerber Baby Foods in our pantry. The Fruits were all fine with an expiry date of 2010 or even 2011. But one or two of the Veggies had the expiry date as Jan 2009.

D ,my husband took them back to the store and notified customer service about it. They simply said, they would remove the expired products from the shelves.

Today I was back at the same store. Now I was more aware and I checked the dates before picking up the Gerber containers from the shelves. However there were very few of the Organic Gerber varieties available and so I started checking the Beech & Nut Naturals. And what do I see ? Products with expiry date stamped as April 2009. Today being July 18th, 2009 the product had already expired 3 months back and yet they were still sitting on the shelf.

When I complained to customer service, they simply said it was a vendor packaging issue and were not even apologetic. They did say they will remove these products from the shelves. But I don't understand how the store could be so careless and nonchalant even after our initial complaint. These were all Stage 2 foods and could be potentially harmful for a 6+ month old baby.
The way the expiry date is printed, it is not something that is at your face, you need to look for it and I am sure many parents would not pay much attention while picking up these packs.

I have filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. I would urge all parents to check the dates on such packaged baby foods and lodge a complaint when they find something amiss.

Is there anything more I can do ?

* Please don't leave a comment if you think I am terribly wrong in feeding my baby Gerber. All constructive comments are welcome.

Edited to Add: I have sent e-mails to PathMark customer care and to the mayor's office of the township. No one has got back. I don't think the manufacturers are even responsible for this, so haven't called them yet.


  1. Yes. Make your own baby food. Sorry that may sound rude, but that is not how I mean it at all. The jarred baby food, expired or not expired taste horrible.

  2. Shilpa

    First of all your comment is not at all constructive but I am replying to debunk some myths

    I don't know if you have kids or not or if you are scarred having eaten horrible baby food but seriously all baby food is not horrible.
    If you wish, taste the Apple-Strawberry or Pear or such. They are pretty good and my 5 year old likes a spoon of them when I am feeding the baby. If you have a mailing address I can send you some.

    It is not easy to find and buy all those organic fruit and veggies to make the 5 and 1/2 servings through out the day.Where I am all grocery stores do not carry a good variety of organic fruits and veggies.

    I do make a khichdi every day for her lunch and also vegetables like squash, carrots and spinach which I can buy organic are made into home made baby food. Fruits like banana with a thick skin that can be peeled are also in her diet.

    Making all of your own baby food that includes variety is hard for working Moms. If you do that kudos to you.

  3. That's horrible. I have a 15 month old and feed him baby food too. Will check all the dates right away.

    I think you should also complain to Gerber directly. Call the customer service number or fill out a customer service form on their website. I am sure it is not Gerber's problem as Pathmark is stocking up expired baby food. But still you should let them know about it.

    I once had a problem with Dannon yogurt - I think it was the Danimals yogurt. Everytime I opened a new cup I would notice small hairs in the yogurt. It happened with one particular batch I bought. I immediately called Dannon and they said they would look into it. They took the details of the store where I bought it from.

    Definitely it is always 'buyer beware' but notifying the company would ensure such things don't happen in the future.

    Do keep us updated.

  4. Sandeepa, i agree with you, being working & with 2 kids, it is not possible to make everything at home.. i did the same thing.. made the main meal but did buy the fruits & some veggies of gerber or tender harvest. only someone who has to juggle everything together would understand how impossible it is to steam fruits & veggies( & all the cleaning & everything else after that) every single time..

    the jars work great outside home, & our entire family ate the mango & guava:-)

    You should call Gerber & Beechnut & let them know that Pathmark is carrying expired food! This is shocking & thank god you checked. I never checked jars.. just becoz i never thought anything like could happen.

  5. Thanks Lakshmi and Soma for being Moms who understand :)

    I will call Gerber but it is not really their issue. I think since the organic line does not move as fast as the regular ones, the expired ones still sits there without being checked.

    I haven't tried the guava, I have heard it is yummy though

  6. Thank U Sandeepa, I buy Gerber too and usually get fresh stock at the local Albertsons, but will check just to make sure!
    I once got beech nut, but opening the jar found the cap had a kinda fungus(?) whatever, it did not look good, I returned them to the store and exchanged it for Gerber.
    Have u written / called the Gerber line? Maybe they can help as well...

    As for making baby food at home, well, we can have different opinions, however, Gerber has quality food and personally, I feel that the pureed food is good for the baby , it is difficult to get that kind of smooth puree with the small quantity that the baby eats, so making just 2/ 3 oz of puree is kinda difficult. I would rather spend that time playing with my baby than struggling to cook, steam, mash, puree , strain food/ veges.

  7. How terrible! It's bad enough that they have expired stuff on their shelves, worse that they're infant food

  8. Just realized its a good post for DMC too, San. I never checked expiration dates on baby foods. This post will make parents more aware coz we never think these things can happen with baby food

  9. I am a full time Mom and it is difficult for even me to bring variety to the table when you have to frequently feed a growing child. Once or twice you do end up giving them packaged food.Do we not add Horlicks, moltova etc to the milk? If that is ok, how is this wrong??
    I am sure if u complained to a government agency which looks into food safety matters, it would be bring better results.

  10. Wow, that is scary.. I always check the ingredients and the expiry when I buy stuff..just don't trust the companies. Isn't BBB only for small businesses? But yea, good that you complained to BBB. I think you should call gerber and always check the expiry dates and also the ingredients.. on another note, did you know that "Natural flavors" in labelling can also be MSG? Marketing genius I guess


  11. Well, just to speak to Manasi's comment on pureeing vegetables taking time, I usually pressure cook them (so don't even have to chop properly) and then puree in a sumeet small blender..doesn't take much time. You could do larger quantities and just freeze them. That way I know what's going inside my baby.
    BTW, a few years ago, gerber baby purees had contamination in Southern California and there was food poisning. So don't go by the brand.. nothing's infallible.

  12. OMG!! how callous are some people is not enough that we as adults are suject to expired and toxic stuff..they do not leave babies alone...miserable...good on complaining and maybe let everyone you know around ur neighbourhood about this...perhaps..bad publicity will help them to get more careful..

  13. I am surpised that any store would be so least concerned about the expiry date of a baby food in particular. Good you filed a complaint with BBB. Also, a good reminder for all of us moms to keep an eye on the expiry date.

    As for the first comment on this post - Jarred baby food does not taste bad at all. And the question here is ethics of the stores selling baby food and not so about the usage of jarred baby food or not.

    Also, it is not just working moms who feed gerber. Stay at home moms do too. There is nothing wrong with jarred baby food. Like Sandeepa's kid, my daughter eats home made food and gerber both. The applesauce is something I taste a spoon every once in a while.

  14. Raise a hue and cry, contact local media including television and print media. This sort of apathetic behavior needs to be highlighted. It doesn't surprise me that the fact you are a person of Indian origin had a effect on the attitude of Pathmark officials otherwise I am sure it would have been different. Whats appalling is that this concerns newborns and their lives and here we have total irresponsible behavior by a big company. This has to be highlighted.

  15. I am sure this is completely unethical business practise not to mention something they can get into serious trouble considering the food they are selling are for babies. I would say follow up on that complaint and make noise so that its heard.

    Are you sure they didn't apologize? What the heck is wrong with them?!

  16. Manasi
    Yes, it indeed is time consuming to make all the servings at home especially with no house help at all
    I will call Gerber tomorrow

    Shall post @DMC


    Issue is not about home food or not and nothing is "wrong" really. What is "wrong" is the store carrying expired baby food and not regulating such things.
    I don't know about agency, will see to find


    Thanks , yeah I know should do that. I try to look for the MSG in ingreds list of chips/crackers etc. but then there is only so much you can do.

  17. I don't have babies but this sounds real bad. I mean if they have stamped expired products with a recent date, that means it is intentional. What do they think ... consumers cannot read?
    I think you can send an email to the company Sandeepa ... it will matter as they should know which of their retailers are stocking what. And more importantly ... the consumers are aware. Am sure they'll like the feedback and do something about it.

  18. Don't let them off the hook please.This is outrageous even though I don't have tiny tots.

  19. Sandeepa, first of all so great to have you blogging again.

    Secondly, this is outrageous. That's the sort of thing which is supposed to happen in India and medicine shops...not in the promised land

  20. Anon
    Thanks for the info

    Rajitha, Shreya, Arup, Nags

    I would love to take this up to higher authority or media, but don't know how. One more thing that I didn't do is take a picture. Actually when the customer service guy was being insensitive, I did fish out my phone and tried taking a pic of the product with the expired date, but he snatched the jar away saying I am not allowed to take pics inside the store.

    I sent my husband ten minutes later to take the pic but by then they had removed the expired products

  21. Sharmila

    Oh no, no. That is not how it is. It is the store is carrying the expired products. The manufacturers have the right date on it.

    Poornima, Knife

    But honestly I don't know what else to do. I am sure they have moved out the stuff now, I will keep a check everytime I go

  22. Whoa!! This is serious... They put the expired jars on the shelves even after you complained?? Write to your local newspapers too, if you can. It will create an awareness and more people will start looking at the expiry dates.

    I witnessed an incident concerning baby food which makes my blood boil till now. There was this woman who opened a few bottles of the food jar and sniffed at that them. I told her that she shouldn't open them and she gave me a look of disbelief and said 'how would you know if they smell bad'. ARGGGGGHHHHHH!!! Once the seal gets broken, the food starts spoiling right away since these baby jars are not refrigerated. I made a complaint too, but no, the store couldn't do anything about it. :(

    And I also started looking for sealed jars after that incident. You can look at the lids and find if they are sealed. Slightly pop a jar open and put it next to an unopened jar [at home], you'll know the difference to look for.

  23. Kay

    I get those boxes with a lid, the boxes not jars. Gerber has mostly these kinds for Organic Stage 1 & 2 these days. Maybe they got to know about your incident.

    After my first complaint I think what they did is remove Expired products from gerber. The were so callous that they didn't check the other brands. This time it was Beech & Nut that I chanced to look upon

  24. Thank god you checked the expiry date . Yes most of the working mom depend on packed baby food . Its not wrong . But the store people how they can be so irresponsible by doing this kind of thing ? & that too informing them once ?
    I don't have any baby but I have friends who have babies & they use store bought baby food . I will tell them to keep on eye , whenever they bought those foods .
    Thanks sandeepa to inform us this & I think if possible inform local authourities ( government )about this . Because I really don't think this local supermarket will do anything about this matter .

  25. Thanks San for making this post. I do check expiry dates on products, but give it a skip if I'm in a hurry. Now I'll be careful when I have to pick stuff for my baby, tho' she's not on other foods yet.

  26. Hello! I think more should be done about supermarkets keeping expired foods stocked. I went to a C-town in my neighborhood and they were selling expired cookies at a discounted price. (non-expired of the same were at regular price) (ON the same shelf) I'm pretty sure the cookies didn't taste any good and it probably would make any baby sick. I notified the store manager and today its still on the shelf. Some one should make this a serious matter so no one gets hurt. It's a damn shame! I try to check the dates on all the products I purchase, but like always sometimes whether because I'm rushing or just not thinking, may overlook it, the expiration dates are so small. I was considering making bright labels and mark the products at the supermarket myself to warn other people of the expired items.

  27. Hi, my wife visits your blog and mentioned this incident to me. I work in their IT dept, and would like to follow up on this incident within the company with some specifics. Could you pls. provide the town/state where you encountered this so that I can include in my correspondence?

    There are strict policies within the co., however it's success depends on the labor staff within the store. Of course, the lack of action from the customer service is inexcusable.

  28. Anon

    Thanks so much.

    If you give me your e-mail id I can send you the details


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