Can I Sue a Grocery Store for Selling Expired Food?

Can I Sue a Grocery Store for Selling Expired Food?

Can I Sue a Grocery Store for Selling Expired Food?

It is impossible to overemphasize the frustration you get after discovering that you have been duped into buying expired food from a grocery store.

If you have ever fallen sick because of taking foods that were expired, you might ask yourself,can I sue a grocery store for selling expired food?.

Sad enough, it becomes even more frustrating when the discovery that you bought expired foods is made when you are preparing to cook.

You may discover that the canned corn that you bought is way beyond the expiry date displayed on the can or label.

Worse still, it may be your milk and orange juice right before you take them.

It is possible and within your rights to sue a grocery store for selling expired food. Unfortunately, you will need a lawyer to take up the issue with the courts.

Worth noting is the fact that many lawyers are not willing to take such cases unless there has been a significant injury, sickness, and expense occasioned by the same.

However, you can visit a small claims court and file the case yourself. Due to the inconvenience, this may cause, many people prefer to return the item and get a refund.

The truth is that there is no problem to sue a grocery store that sold you items that were expired.The problem is to identify a lawyer willing to take up your case.

Lawyers are an essential ingredient in any judicial proceeding, and they may be the boundary between winning a case and losing it.

You may have all facts, but without a good lawyer, your case can be quashed for technicalities or other seemingly trivial reasons.

For a lawyer to take your case, they assess what is at stake, mainly in damages and higher than their charges. So, can you sue a grocery store for selling expired food?

What Can You Do When A Grocery Store Sells Expired Food?

In many instances, a good quantity of out-of-date food finds its way to the landfill.

Although food may not have hit its expiry date, it is not fit for human consumption if it’s no longer at peak quality.

This may be the case way before the expiry date, and it is a factor to consider when thinking of expired foods.

As a consequence, what you will be looking for is not only the expiry date but if the food is still in its peak quality.

Again, all food that is close to its expiry date should not be sold.

On the other hand, if meat and fresh vegetables past their prime, they may be cooked for the inner salad counters before they expire.

If by any chance, you buy spoilt milk from a grocery store, you may consider returning it to the store and get a refund.

Unfortunately, the consumer is not well covered in law about buying canned food that has expired. This is because there is no universally accepted dating system.

It may astonish you to note that no law compels manufacturers to have quality-based labels on their canned foods. The only exception is when it comes to baby formula.

Can I Sue a Grocery Store for Selling Expired Food?

This means that the dates on the labels of canned foods are merely arbitrary. If there is any purpose they serve, it is to make customers feel good as they make their purchase.

Can a grocery store be fined for selling expired food?

Generally, grocery stores are not fined exorbitantly for selling outdated foods. This is because there is no federal mandate covering the dating system in foods.

Consequently, each state is expected to have its own rules and regulations that govern the sale of out-of-date foods.

This may be why you can easily find expired foods in any grocery store anytime you search hard enough.

This is occasioned by the multitude of food cans that the grocery stores have. It is impossible to ensure that all the tens of thousands of products are within the expiry dates’ window.

Additionally, canned foods are classified as good indefinitely, as long as their cans are good. This is even though the tins show an expiry date of between 2-5 years.

Can I Sue a Grocery Store for Selling Expired Food?

Indeed, best before dates are about quality and never meant to signify anything related to safety. Therefore, the date may be passed, and the food remains safe to use.

Although the food may not be harmful, a slight difference in flavor may be occasioned. The texture may also be affected. Other date labels on foods are “display until” date labels.

These are meant for staff members to keep an eye on perishables. If you buy an expired item from a grocery store, consider all your options and decide what is best.

Sometimes, it is best to let it go simply, but if the item has caused you illness or made you incur hospital expenses, you may consider suing the shop.

However, I must state that this rarely happens from consuming such products. 

You may often find calling the store and speaking with its management  who solves most of such incidences. 

You may even be given a small token for the inconvenience, and as a way of good gesture by the store.

Is it illegal to sell out-of-date food in a grocery store?

Before answering this question, it is a good thing to always to remember that these dates are “best by” dates.

As such, the dates cannot tell anyone the date that the product will be wrong.

The dates will, in most instances, show the dates by which the maximum freshness and flavor will begin to diminish.

Since there is no federal law that requires to have expiry dates on food items, it means that there is no legality  being penalized for the same within the US jurisdiction.

As already mentioned, baby formula falls in another category, and there must be an expiry date on it.

Although it is illegal for grocery stores to sell goods that they are aware are expired, it is also the responsibility of the consumer to check on the suitability of the foods before they buy or consume.

It is essential to look at the dates before purchasing since they estimate that the products are expected to be fresh.

This is especially important if the food is meant for a baby, as the repercussions may be grave.

Nobody wants to feed their baby with products whose safety they can’t guarantee.

If you see expired products on the shelf, courtesy demands that you notify the management so that they can be addressed effectively.

In most cases, food with dates showing that the expiry date is passed, the food is still not spoilt and can be used without harm. Unfortunately, most of these foods end up thrown in the landfill.

These foods can be donated to the food banks or used as animal feeds without any harm.

Therefore, when you buy expired food and discover at home that the food has past dates, decide if the food can be taken, thrown away, or taken back to the store for a refund.

You would need to have the receipt with you if you chose the latter option.

On the other hand, if the food in question is canned food, don’t worry about the dates, as long as the can is free from rust, swelling, dents, or rust.

Indeed, canned foods can remain shelf-stable for many years.

What Is The Relevance Of Dates On Food Items?

From the above discussion, it may seem that dates play no important role in food items. This is not necessarily so. In essence, they play an essential role.

You can’t ignore the dates. There might be a legal recourse in federal law if you are harmed by a product whose dates are past.

The first thing that you need to understand is the real meaning of those small phrases in the underside of your milk gallon or cans.

The terms may seem mysterious to you, but they need not be so.

As you do your shop, look for the phrases used in relaying the dates.

These date phrases may range from “best before,” “sell by,” “best if used by,” “expired by,” to “freeze by.”

They are meant to give the consumer an informed idea of how fresh the product is expected to be.

They are never meant to declare whether the product is dangerous to consume or not.

It is best for you as a consumer to look at the dates and steer away from products whose dates are either expired or near to be expired.

Can I Sue a Grocery Store for Selling Expired Food?

What Law Covers Me If I Get Harmed By Expired Products?

State governments are expected to pass regulations on the sale of expired goods.

There are times that a consumer may end up being harmed by a product. This is where the expiry dates come in handy for you.

If the seller of the expired product that caused you to harm is responsible, you will most certainly be compensated.

No matter how responsible a store is, they will be reluctant to process your compensation without filing a lawsuit against them.

The best way to go is a civil lawsuit under the product liability theory.

In the law, all distributors, manufacturers, and sellers are held responsible for harm caused by their faulty goods or products.

Under this theory, there is no relevance of whether the product is past the expiration date or not.

For you to prevail against the responsible store, you must prove that the seller or manufacturer is the one responsible for your injuries.

Failure to prove this will see your case being thrown away.

So can I sue a grocery store for expired food?  Yes, When it comes to suing the party responsible for your injuries, it is needful to make a correct assessment of your damages and resultant expenses.

One of the things that your lawyer will want to show is that there were significant injuries that carry a substantial financial implication.

For the attorney to take your case, you will need to convince them and meet this threshold.  You may have suffered a stomachache after taking bad milk.

This pain may have lasted for a few hours but left no long-lasting effects on you. This will most likely not convince the lawyer to take up your case.

Consequently, it is best to protect yourself by avoiding all products whose dates are expired. This is your first line of defense.

What Questions Can I Ask My Attorney After Buying Expired Goods?

There are many things that you need to know from your attorney. This is if you still feel that using the legal system is the best way to go.

For instance, you may wish to find out from your lawyer the appropriate steps if you have been harmed by an expired item.

Also, you may want to find out from your lawyer the best place to report if you bought an expired product.

You can also ask your lawyer if your state has any specific law that provides protection when it comes to expired food items and products.


Buying an expired item is quite frustrating to any potential consumer. This occasions pain and agony to the victim.

The victim would wish to have their concerns addressed by the legal system under all circumstances.

Unfortunately, the victim will soon find that this is a very tall order to climb and may end up just wasting their time to no avail.

They will start being disadvantaged by the reluctance of lawyers to take up the case to realize that such instances are not well covered in law.

It will be with a lot of effort that anyone can prove their case and get rewarded from the courts.

Consequently, it is best to ensure that, as a consumer, you pay keen attention to the dates, avoiding all products whose dates want.

This will spare you unnecessary pain and lost time in court battles that you may never win or get a good reward.


Hi! I' am Tom. I was a manager in one of the biggest stores for over 10 Years, am also an SEO by night. I don't like to call myself a blogger; they are very analytical, do email marketing, and know all SEO stuff. I faced many questions from customers about different products, and there was hardly any help on the internet. After learning all the things about these products as a manager the hard way, I decided to start a blog and help other people.

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