Dear PoP – Fraudulent Corner Market

Photo by PoPville flickr user Dave Kleinschmidt

“Dear PoP,

So there is a market on my block. I have stopped in there a number of times to buy food…and noticed that they are putting their OWN expiration dates over the manufacturer’s expiration dates. I wouldn’t mind this…but they are CHANGING the expiration dates on their meat products.

I caught this once…some Purdue chicken…I peeled back their sticker and found a manufacturers date that indicated expiration was 5 days sooner.

Anyways, I’ve gone back twice since to try and catch them, and both times found that they had scrubbed off the manufacturers expiration date before applying their own sticker.

I’m concerned for a lot of reasons…Is what they are doing illegal? Most disturbing is the fact that I reported this yesterday to the Department of Consumer and regulatory affairs food safety office…and no one has returned my message yet (It’s been over 24 hours).”

I would think that this is most definitely illegal. I mean that’s the whole reason these dates are placed in the first place, right? For safety? I’d say the most disturbing part is the practice itself rather than not hearing back from DCRA in 24 hours. Having said that, a DC government agency most definitely needs to look into this. I will put you in touch with someone from DCRA immediately.

This has to be illegal right?

45 Comment

  • “Most disturbing is the fact that I reported this yesterday to the Department of Consumer and regulatory affairs food safety office…and no one has returned my message yet (It’s been over 24 hours).””

    Ha! This surprises you? You’ve never dealt with government before have you?

    • What is the purpose of this stupid response?

      I mean really, people could get very sick and even worst. POP has the great potential to do so much good but fools like you waist space and time.

      If You NON-Sense boys have nothing good to add to a legitimate concern, shut up.

      Save this kind of BS for the future debates between the results of Fenty versus the unknown of Gray.

    • Hey Glenn Beck – some of us have and have always found them to be responsive and attentive. In my experience the DC City Government has been very helpful. Not fitting the stereotype developed from the 80s.

    • Its surprising because they imply on their answering machine that they will get back to you ASAP.

  • Contact the Department of Health, not DCRA. Food Safety & Hygiene Inspection Division: 202-535-2180

    • the department of health is no better! i was in the hospital with food poisoning that was traced back to a wendy’s (yeah, i know). i called the department of health to report it and on the answering machine, they SPECIFICALLY stated, “we take these matters seriously. someone will respond to your message within 24 business hours.” never heard back.

    • I called the food safety division yesterday from this site:

      Its been almost 2 days… no call back.

  • Can you post where this market location is? I want to make sure I don’t go there! thanks 🙂

  • My ex-wife was filipino and she would eat stuff all the time after the expiration. Or stuff that had been sitting out all night. And she never got sick. So maybe they are putting on the filipino expiration date.

    • In general, the “expiration” dates assume worst-case handling between the point of origin (packaging) and the retail outlet. It is really a “sell by” date and quite often the case that things are fine even well after this.

      It is, in fact, often possible to take smelly “spoiled” meat, wash it well, and thoroughly cook it, and have something perfectly safe and nutritious.

      I find it a little humorous that it’s often the Organic/Small Producer/Loco-vore crowd (the people complaining about how removed we are from the sources of our food) that are the most squicked by stamped dates. This is a pet peeve of mine, because a lot of really good food gets tossed, and again: often by the crowd that

      Smell the dang meat…if it’s stinky or badly discolored, don’t buy it. Otherwise, wash well and cook thoroughly.

      I nearly always buy day-old (one day past the recommended date) meat, simply because the savings are large. Your food handling during preparation and storage is FAR more important than that little date.

      NB – this corner market does sound fraudulent! They are probably getting that stuff at a discount precisely because it’s past the sale date, and relabeling is fraudulent.

      • Disgusting… sounds like completly wacked out advise to me!

        take smelly “spoiled” meat, wash it well – I think it’s dangerous at this point. Every hear of Salmonella?

        There is a reason for those dates and they were decided on by scientist and food experts, not thrifty shoppers on a tight budget.

      • So what you’re saying is that you’ve somehow figured out that the system is wrong and you’re right? Just wash the meat?

        When you get stomach cancer at age 45, what are you going to say then?

        This is extremely bad advice. Meat that is past its prime is not necessarily a short-term risk, but mold and bacteria that grows in old food can be very dangerous.

        • OP is just mentioning that the date on the package is not set in stone, its just a suggestion. For example, if the meat is frozen it can last long past the expiration date.

          And food preparation IS WAY MORE important than just blindly following dates. Have you ever seen meat that someone picked up and placed in a non-refrigerated place in the supermarket? I guarantee it ended up back in the meat section without your knowledge and will spoil much more quickly than the exp date.

          Bottom line. Examine and smell your food, then cook it properly. That is, unless its steak, that should always be pink!

      • Actually, in most cases the “expiration date” you’re referring to is a “sell by” date. Some foods can be ok to eat one or two days after the expiration date, but the date is put on the packaging to prevent sellers from selling “expired” food. My point is: they are breaking the law by selling food beyond the expiration date, regardless of whether the food is spoiled or not.

  • PoP – I love the photo, sums up my thoughts of buying groceries at these corner stores.

    This emphasizes why quality groceries are needed throughout the city. We cant count having corner stores as having access.

    Hell, look at the complaints about the RI Ave and Petworth Safeways.

    I feel for the folks who cant do what I do and just go further afield for quality.

  • “Most disturbing is the fact that I reported this yesterday to the Department of Consumer and regulatory affairs food safety office…and no one has returned my message yet (It’s been over 24 hours).”

    My my. People in this town just love their hyperbolic outrage, don’t they?

    Maybe I’m just all turned around, but falsifying expiration dates on food is the most disturbing part of the story, not the fact that the DC government doesn’t have crack team of food police that sit around waiting to respond instantly to allegations of expiration date falsification. Or something like that, anyway.

    And maybe I’m cynical, but I would generally never expect to hear back from a government agency within 24 hours. (Mind you I’d be happy if I did, I just wouldn’t *expect* it.)

    • I don’t expect a crack response either…but their answering machine says that they will contact you within 24 hours.

      How long should I wait before I my outrage is justified?

      • Every DC government voicemail message includes a variation on this exact same “promise,” which leads me to believe this might be the first time you’ve called a DC government agency, and I’m not saying that to be judgmental. But leaving a voice message does not mean you will get called back within a day, or at all.

        I think the standard VM language was probably the result of some go-getter customer service quality initiative a bunch of years ago, and has long since lost any credibility.

        I think it would be great for the government to follow through on enforcing this “promise.”

        • In fact, I recall my first experiences with this formulaic voice mail promise was deep into the Williams administration, at a time when I was calling government personnel throughout the permitting bureaucracy (DCRA above all, but also DOH, WASA, DDOT, elevator offices, plumbing, electrical, structural, public space, zoning plan reviewers, and more). I am 100% in sympathy with the original poster’s feelings of outrage because I thought the exact same thing back then in my first few months of dealing with DC government.

    • I guess what bothers me is… I have a choice about whether or not I will continue to patronize this grocery store…
      They do a bad job and I go elsewhere.

      BUT I don’t have a choice about which government agency keeps my food safe. I pay my taxes to them for this service… and it seems they aren’t concerned.

      If this was happening in Upper NW, heads would roll… but because its in Petworth. It’s been happening for as long as I have shopped there, and no one seems to toss up a fuss. We aren’t rich, so no one cares.

      • Well, I don’t think your outrage is justified so I can’t answer how long you should wait. 😀

        But seriously, I get your concern, and I think you’ve done what you can: don’t shop at the store anymore and report the problem to all the relevant authorities. But you shouldn’t assume that DCRA aren’t concerned or that they’re not providing you services you pay for just because they haven’t returned your call yet. I also think you shouldn’t assume that their degree of concern depends on where you live – that’s total conjecture and not going to do anything but make you more angry without justification.

      • I’ve noticed the two tiimes I have shopped at Target grcery store (in VA) that the Peerdue chicken had no dates in the sell by date box.

  • But these are small business owners we need to protect from the evil Harris Teeters and Giants of the world.

  • This type of problem was actually on Dateline not too long ago. It showed that the big chains were pushing back expiration dates too. I would just keep calling the food safety division. Hopefully, you will eventually get a response.

  • There are tons of street vendors all over Mt. Pleasant, Columbia Heights, that definitely don’t have a license to sell food, and no one bats an eye. There is definitely a double standard when it comes to tax-paying food establishments and the “ethnic” communities. They’re never cited, and open for business on main streets with cops driving right by. I don’t expect the DC Government to care any more about your local market than food vendors on the street.

    NotScott – I can’t believe you are advocating cleaning and cooking “spoiled” meat. I’m no germaphobe, nor do I worry all that much about expiration dates, and I always smell my fish and meat before I buy it – but what you’re recommending could be very dangerous and it is hazardous to be so cavalier ingesting something that is clearly rotten.

    • How do you know they do not have licenses? And why do you choose to insult the police by saying they do nothing about it? It appears to me that you’re ranting is purely opining and devoid of facts.

      • They are not licensed. They’re supposed to be part of a pilot with the Office of Latino Affairs, but OLA has done no oversight over the program. Any time local businesses complain, they’re told that Jim Graham supports the vendors, so no city action is taken.

  • The DC Department of Health sent an investigator out today. I spoke with them about an hour ago after seeing this post. Thanks for bringing this issue to our attention and when I get a report back from them, I’d be happy to post. Just for clarity, DCRA doesn’t have a food safety office so not sure where a message was left or if it was even left with us. But DOH handles all food safety related issues. If you see suspected illegal food vendors on the sidewalk, call the police immediately. Thanks again!

    – Mike Rupert, DCRA

    • Mike, I’ve always been impressed with your responsiveness to the concerns brought up online. I’ve found DCRA responsive, though sometimes unhelpful with certain issues. Its a vast improvement over the horror stories of just a few years ago. I know many people around the city have it out for your boss (the director) and I certainly dont know enough about the situation to even have an opinion. However, I do hope that you are going to stay on in the new administration. You’re a true asset to the city. Thanks!

      Anonymous DC Resident

  • It is also against labeling laws that exist in federal regulations promulgated by the FDA.

  • Original poster here…I completely agree… – mike reached out beyond his own office to get this fixed. Thanks alot!!!

  • Great to bring this to the attention of the authorities but not great to hold onto the name of the offending market – leaving others who are less informed to fend for themselves.
    Not sure why you are worried about a defamation suit. All kinds of negative things are said about restaurants, bars, and individuals by posters in this forum and no one (particularly PoP) has been sued yet. Moreover, if what you are saying is true, you have no worries about a defamation suit because truth is an absolute defense.

  • I dealth with the DOH regarding the Safeway up at Piney Branch and Georgia, which was as disgusting as many other Safeways in DC. All I wanted was an inspection of the store with attention to the milk coolers, which were heavily splattered covered in spilt and rotten milk and were never cleaned. The DOH inspectors were impossible to get ahold of, I left message after message. After a couple weeks I finally did get one to speak to me, she basically made it clear that even when they do inspections not much results of it. They can’t shut stores down that are some of the only sources of groceries in the area, so they just let everything slide. I got the usual “blame the victim” speech from her about how I shouldn’t have moved to the area and that if I didn’t like it I should leave. That’s the same result I got when talking about crime or really anything else with DC government, who’s “employees” (using the term loosely) generally feel non-blacks have no business living here in the first place. An amusing theory for the capital of the US to say the least.

    Anyways, the solution to lousy grocery stores is competition: when another and better store opens nearby quality improves massively. However, thanks to the shite state of DC and difficulties opening businesses in DC new stores of any sort are rare in most of the city. You may see some improvements but they take decades to manifest. In the end I started shopping in MD, where food inspection is taken more seriously and the employees don’t threaten non-blacks with violence, and then I left DC altogether.

    If you can’t take the shit, get out of the shithouse. I couldn’t take it and I am proud to admit that.

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