Can I sue a Grocery Store for Selling Expired Food? – Find Out

While it’s good practice to always check the expiry date of groceries you buy in a store, sometimes, you may forget to do so. And if the item is orange juice or milk, it can even be more frustrating. 

Though consuming some expired grocery items doesn’t cause any harm, others can make you sick, which begs the question, “can I sue a grocery store for selling expired food?”

From my decades of experience, what I can say is yes, you can. You can file a lawsuit against people for just about anything. However, is suing the store the best action to take after consuming expired food? 

Will they be penalized in any way? What is the best line of action to take legally against a store that sells expired food items consistently? 

Can you sue a grocery store for food poisoning?

In this write-up, we’ll provide answers to these questions and related ones.

Can you file a lawsuit against Walmart for selling expired food?

That depends on a number of factors.

If an expired food item purchased at Walmart makes you sick or injures you after/while consuming it, you can sue. For instance, if you chipped a tooth on old hard candy, then you can file a lawsuit.

Even though you can sue anyone for just about anything, the question shouldn’t be whether you can file a lawsuit against Walmart. But you should be contemplating, “Can I find a lawyer that will help?” 

Since lawsuits are extremely costly, you’ll need to have enough in damages for covering the costs. If not, an attorney won’t find taking the case worthy. 

Thus, if you chipped a tooth and have to pay a $200 dentist bill, an attorney will probably not take your case. 

However, if, after consuming a can of old milk, you ended up spending many days in the hospital, with tens of thousands of dollars racked up in hospital bills, they’ll be more likely to accept the case.

This is due to the fact that the damages are higher, meaning the monetary expenses involved are heavier.

But if you chipped a tooth on expired candy and want to sue, you can. There are 2 ways to go about it: You can either file a case through small claims court or contact Walmart directly.

Small claims courts don’t operate the same way in every state. Thus, if you want to toe that path, consider reaching out to your local court to know the process.

However, if you prefer to talk to Walmart directly about the incident, you should save your receipt, leftover of the product as well as the packaging.

You also need to visit a dentist and ensure that you keep all the bills related to the incident

You can even tell your dentist to write up something concerning how severe the damage is and whether you’ll require additional care.

If you show the required proof to back your claim, Walmart could settle with you. However, litigating your case may not be worth it. 

What will happen if a supermarket sells expired food?

Unfortunately, the majority of expired food items end up in the landfill.

Food items that are either about to expire or aren’t at peak quality any longer are unfit to be made available for sale. This policy is valid irrespective of whether it’s already out of date.

Items like fresh vegetables and meat that’s no longer in its prime but hasn’t expired yet could be cooked up for the in-store deli and salad counters before getting spoilt. 

And though some of it is discarded in the rubbish dump, expired food could be donated to local food banks, offered for sale to salvage stores, or shared with employees.

If you buy an expired food item such as milk, simply walk into the store and return it. The majority of stores will refund you fully.

However, mostly, stores do sell expired food, especially canned goods, without facing any consequence.

No uniform dating system exists, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As a matter of fact, manufacturers aren’t even mandated to provide quality-based labels on food, except baby formula. 

Thus, those dates you see on canned food are arbitrary and are only there to make the consumer feel good about the item they want to buy.

Additionally, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), low acid foods have good quality between 2 and 5 years. If cans don’t have any obvious signs of damage and are generally in good condition, they’re safe for consumption indefinitely.

Can a store be fined for selling expired food, and how much is the fine?

I wasn’t able to get any exact figures about this. However, I found where 21 shops in Port Chester, NY, and White Plains, NY, received a total of $59,600 in fines for selling expired food items in 2009. 

Thus, stores won’t be fined a hefty sum for selling expired food in the grand scheme of things. 

Since expiration dates aren’t required federally, each state will probably follow its own rules and regulations about the sale of expired food. That’s why I wasn’t able to find much about it.


Thus, it’s not an offense to sell expired food. The majority of dates on food are put there to let you know when the maximum flavor and freshness of the food will start diminishing.

There’s no federal law that mandates manufacturers to provide an expiration date on products. So, if no requirement is made available to do something, then you can’t face a legal penalty for it.

However, baby formula has to carry an expiration date on it. Also, in California, every baby food has to contain an expiration date. 

To avoid buying an outdated food item, do your due diligence at the store by checking the date of expiry of what you’re buying.