I am a stickler for checking expired dates on food when I go grocery shopping in Missouri. Moldy bread and cheese is just one of those unpleasant things I try to avoid in my life. That thought inspired the question of whether it's legal for a Missouri store to sell food that is past its expiration date. The answer might surprise you as much as it did me.

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I was doing research on a completely different topic when I found this curious fact on the Food Safety Inspections part of the Missouri Department of Health website. I don't want to misrepresent the state, so here are their exact words of a question that I have no doubt gets asked a lot:

My local grocery store is selling outdated food items. Is that allowed?
Yes, provided the food items are in sound condition and are not adulterated. Dates on packages of food (including meat) are not enforceable under the law. The manufacturers put them on the package as a guide for consumers and retailers for quality purposes. The health department cannot enforce these dates as expiration dates related to food safety which require products to be removed from sale.

I think I speak for at least a few people when I say "Ew". I get it though. As long as you know the expiration date and can examine the food yourself, it's on you to determine if you think it's safe to proceed with buying it. Plus, it's so easy for many stores who are honestly understaffed to try and keep up with absolutely every food item that can expire.

I will confess that I found some potato chips in my cabinet that were still sealed, but had an expiration date going back more than a year. They weren't bad and I lived to tell the story of eating them. Some food just shouldn't go to waste.

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