After All These Years, Was UFCW Local 8 Right About Winco Selling Expired Food?

September 5, 2015 | Let me start this review by saying that I have been a regular shopper at Elk Grove's Winco  Food grocery st...

September 5, 2015 |

Let me start this review by saying that I have been a regular shopper at Elk Grove's Winco Food grocery store since its opening about 16 years ago now. Even though this review will be less than flattering, let's be clear - I will probably continue shopping there for certain products like canned goods, bread, et cetera, as they have the best prices around.

Going back to the store's early days, longtime Elk Grove shoppers may remember that members of United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local 8 (UFCW) were semi-permanent fixtures in front of the store. The UFCW protesters had several allegations on their placards including unfair labor practices (Winco in non-union) and, as it relates to this review, the store was selling expired food.

My review today involves the latter allegation.

On a side note, as native Michigander, I know and appreciate a good hot dog. Friends in both Michigan and California can attest how hot dogs on occasion meld into my personal politics, but we will leave that story for another day.

Dating back to the 1960s, Michiganders became aghast when they found out what went into hot dogs, and as quick as you can say Coney Island, truth in labeling legislation was passed and signed into law requiring every ingredient used in hot dogs to be listed. Because of this, it is said, Michigan-produced hot dogs are some of the best in the country.

Which brings us the experience at Winco this morning when I was shopping for hot dogs. Scoping out their selection, I settled on Zenner's brand, and specifically their Coney label. While not exactly like a Michigan wiener it was as close as you can get with their selection.

When I checked the ingredients to see if they have a casing, I noticed this particular product had an expiration date of 8/31/2015.

To me, a fully-cooked packaged hot dog that has been refrigerated that has an expiration date a few days old is not a big deal. However, I do understand this is not Kosher for lots of people.

Noting the expired product, I asked some of the guys in the meat department if they could sell it a reduced price, and they directed me to Sherri, the deli department manager.

When I asked Sherri, she said the store policy is that they will not sell any product that has expired, even at a reduced price. When asked what they will do with it she said they throw it away. What a waste, but they have their reasons even if it is not against California law

Sherri and I then examined the Coney product display and discovered the package that I selected was not a mere outlier. In fact, it was almost the rule for about 33-percent of this product.

Of the dozen and a half packages of Zenner's Coney in the display case, six were expired. One of the packages had an expiration date of 8/6/2015 - ALMOST ONE MONTH AGO!

I then asked Sherri why this would happen, she indignantly blamed Zenner's for shipping expired product. Whether Zenner's did or not is irrelevant - the fact is Winco was displaying expired product for sale.

Not giving up on my pursuit of a discount, I asked Sherri if she could give me a discount on a package since I saved them from selling expired product. Rudely, she said "No."

Even though my persuasive charms failed to get me a discount, what really was irritating was Sherri's negative attitude.

I understand the store doesn't want to knowingly sell expired food, and furthermore that Deli Manager Sherri lacks the executive authority to slap a discount orange label on a package of Zenner's Coney hot dogs as an expression of gratitude to a customer who pointed out they were trying to sell expired product.

What was puzzling was her attitude. Sherri's attitude towards me was anger for pointing out this problem.

Needless to say, Sherri couldn't even muster a fake thank you.

Maybe the UFCW Local 8 was right after all.

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Anonymous said...

This reminds me of an incident I had at a well know grocer in Sacramento, one I was a regular shopper at. When picking up a Deli prepackaged item I noticed the size seemed to be smaller with the same price I had always paid. Just happened to casually mention something about it when the Manager was standing nearby and he asked what I was talking about. He took one back to the scales and came back with the deli employee and had her remove all of the items, weigh & repackage all of them. Not being someone who wants to cause a problem I said it was not a problem for me, but he said it was for him. Of course that gets into a Weights & Measure problem which can be hugh for grocers. My first thought was that instead of raising the price they lower the size...seems to have not been the problem though. Hope someone didn't lose their job....most likely an innocent mistake.

As to the above incident...I would have a major problem shopping at a store that had expired deli items on the shelf. I can't understand why she would not have at least removed the Aug. 3rd package...obviously she was following Winco procedures issued from Headquarters. When the public is accepting of this, nothing changes. They don't seem to be lacking in customers from the reviews I see online.

Anonymous said...

For you to discover Winco was selling outdated produce, then request and be denied a discount, and ultimately report the experience is hardly objective reporting--- it's highly inappropriate and unprofessional. I'm appalled Winco attempted to sell outdated product, either intentionally or because of negligence, but your amateurish attempt to capitalize on the situation certainly diminishes your personal integrity.

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