You may not know it, but baby formula is one of the few foods that's required by the Food & Drug Administration to have a use-by date.
Even though, that date is clearly printed on all containers, the Troubleshooters have found it's easy to find out of date formula on store shelves across Connecticut.
In March, NBC Connecticut first checked the Target on the Berlin Turnpike in Newington. We found 9 bottles past their use-by date sitting on the shelf. Some was dated Decemeber of 2012.
We decided to buy some of it to see if a cashier would check to see that it's out of date. She didn't and checked us right through.
The Price Chopper in Bristol also had expired formula on its shelves. We found 3 cases with a use by date of January 1st, 2013. We told a customer service team leader who appeared surprised and concerned by our find.
"I'm going to call the grocery manager right now," she said.
The next stop was a Toys R Us in Manchester. We found 1 can, again out of date, since 2012. We alerted a manager who quickly took it off our hands.
At the IGA grocery store in Rocky Hill, we found 4 cans of powdered Enfamil formula and 24 bottles of liquid formula almost a month past its use-by date.
Our last stop was a Walgreens in New Haven where we found 12 bottles of liquid formula that were out-of-date.
All that expired formula on store shelves doesn't sit well with licensed UConn dietitician Nicole Newman.
"The biggest concern would be that they aren't going to be receiving the amount of vitamins and minerals that they should be getting," said Newman.
Newman went out to say it's unlikely feeding an infant formula past it's use by date will cause any immediate health problems, but adds they may not get the necessary nutrients needed at such an important stage of life.
"Over time we can see that certain babies who don't get the nutrients can develip osteoprinia and the anemia can get worse," said Newman.
It's up to each state to establish its own regulations and requirements when it comes to expired foods. The state of California recently made it illegal to sell out of date formula. Here in Connecticut, foods and products must be dates and stores are required to pull expired products off the shelves or it could face fines.
Since April of 2010, the Department of Consumer Protection has received 51 complaints of expired products, which include baby formula. Most recently, inspectors removed 17 containers of expired baby formula at the Walmart on Boston Post Road in Old Saybrook.
Newman says that's why it's critical to always check the use by dates and throw out any formula that's out-dated.
"You don't want to risk it. Maybe they might have some GI issues, diarrhea, reflux or just upset stomach," she points out.
The Troubleshooters reached out to all the stores in this story. All admit it was an oversight.
In an email, a Target spokesperson writes "Target is committed to providing our guests with fresh, high quality food and we have processes in place to monitor the freshness of grocery products in our stores. We are looking into this situation, but we'll take this opportunity to address this concern not only in Newington, but in all of our stores. If a guest happens to find a product that has passed its expiration or best-if-used-by date, we encourage that guest to make one of our store tean members aware so we can immediately address the issue. If the guest has already purchased the product, we will gladly provide a full refund."
Toys R Us provided this statement, "We maintain the highest safety and quality standards for the products on our store shelves, and have strict protocols for inspecting perishable items on a regular basis. Our store employees have been retrained on this issue to ensure this does not happen again."
Walgreens media relations writes, "Thanks for reach out to us. We have procedures in place to routinely check the expiration dates on perishable items. Obviously, for some reason this product was overlooked. Customer safety is our primary concern. We will continue to be diligent in our efforts to monitor all expiration dates."
Finally, an IGA store manager said via phone, "It was a complee oversight. We apologize for it. I can assure you it won't happen again."