FOX 8 Investigates: Shelf Life Exposed - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

FOX 8 Investigates: Shelf Life Exposed

Fox 8 Investigates: "Shelf Life Exposed" (FOX 8 WVUE) Fox 8 Investigates: "Shelf Life Exposed" (FOX 8 WVUE)
NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -

A FOX 8 investigation uncovers a dangerous problem that could threaten your child's health. And you may be buying without even knowing it. 

We found expired infant formula, baby food and over-the-counter children's medicine on store shelves across our viewing area. We bought them at big chain super markets, mom and pop stores, discount and drug stores from New Orleans to Metairie, Chalmette, Luling and in the bayou region. 

That's something parents like Ronald Stoot were not happy to hear.

"That's really scary, you know, when your children are sick a lot of times you do check dates and stuff like that, but we are human so you definitely depend on the stores to do their job as far as rotating stock and getting rid of old merchandise. That's extremely concerning," Stoot said. 

Local pediatrician Dr. Betty Lo-Blais agrees.

"I think most consumers assume that if stores are going to put a product on the shelf that they've already done due diligence, and I think you have discovered that that's not always the case," she said. 

We found 12 cans of expired hypo-allergenic infant formula at one local grocery store. The "use by" date was Nov. 1, 2015. We bought it on Jan. 27. During a different shopping trip, we bought formula more than four months expired. At another store, we purchased infant formula nearly six months past the use by date. 

And here's what you should know about that use by date. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires manufacturers to put one on all infant formula. According to the FDA, that is the date after which infant formula "should not be fed to infants." Why? Manufacturers can only guarantee "the nutrient content" and "quality of the formula" up to that date. 

"This is the sole nutrition for infants. Why would we compromise the integrity? Why would we even roll the dice and jeopardize our children's health because someone is selling expired products? I mean, that is very concerning, that is very, almost, upsetting that it's happening," Lo-Blais said. 

Lo-Blais, who is also a LSU Health associate professor of medicine and pediatrics, said under no circumstances should parents feed their baby expired formula.

"it could be dangerous in the sense that the first two years of life for a child is probably the most accelerated time of growth, especially for the brain, so again the essential fatty acids that are essential for growth of the brain and the eyes are included in all of these formulas, and you may actually be very concerned that these nutrients are not as potent as they should be," Lo-Blais said. 

The FDA also recommends that you not use any over-the-counter or prescription medicine past the expiration date, but, our investigation found some local stores selling expired children's medicine. We bought everything from expired over-the-counter fever reducers to cold and allergy medicines.  

"If you have a sick child, let's say who has asthma, who has diabetes or any medical condition, and you're giving an expired medication, that medication may not work, and so you may be compromising that child whether you decide, well if the first dose didn't work, let me give more. And many medications are metabolized through the liver and excreted through the kidneys so you may actually be over dosing your child," said Lo-Blais.  

Lo-Blais wants parents to remember that expiration date is there for a reason.

"I think it's a wake-up call for consumers to really pay attention to expiration dates that - again - are clearly labeled on all medications, formulas, all food products," she said. 

As for this father who will soon welcome another baby to his family, he says from now on he'll pay closer attention to expiration dates.

"I have one on the way, be here in May, so I definitely hope this is wrapped up by then, you know," said Stoot.

We contacted all the stores to let them know what we found. Some tell us they will use this as an opportunity to re-train their employees to make sure it doesn't happen again. FOX 8 chose not to identify the stores where we purchased those expired products. We randomly selected the stores, and our sample size was merely a snapshot of the issue.

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals says they will investigate any and all complaints of expired baby formula and baby food and remove infant formula from store shelves. But, a spokesman with DHH says that's not due to a health risk concern but because of the possibility that the nutritional value may be decreased in older products. 

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