YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Kmart agreed to pay the state of New Jersey $302,500 and donate $25,000 worth of infant formula after state authorities found the retail giant selling expired infant formula and non-prescription medications at 19 of its stores here, including some in Bergen and Passaic counties.
In addition, Kmart will pay for continued unannounced state inspections and take steps to better inspect its merchandise, under a consent agreement with the state.
Inspectors with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs reported finding 257 packages of infant formula and/or non-prescription medications that were from 9-29 months past their expiration dates on the shelves.
The investigators purchased bought 68 of the expired items at stores in Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Essex, Gloucester, Mercer, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, and Somerset counties, state Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said this afternoon.
“This is unacceptable and a clear violation of our consumer protection laws,” he said.
As Chiesa noted: New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act expressly prohibits the sale of any infant formula or non-prescription drug subject to expiration dating requirements by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, if the expiration date has passed.
The measures Kmart agreed to take include appointing two senior level management employees for 18 months to serve as compliance liaisons with the DCA and conduct unannounced inspections of Kmart’s New Jersey stores to identify expiring and expired products, under the agreement.
At least 20 of Kmart’s New Jersey stores will be inspected each quarter, Chiesa said.
This will help state authorities “continue to hold accountable every Kmart store in New Jersey, monitor their compliance, and demand results if any store is found to repeat this mistake,” he said.
Kmart will pay for any random, unannounced DCA inspections, under the consent agreement.
Also, the “compliance liaisons” will conduct regular conference calls with DCA representatives while submitting quarterly reports that must include any findings or resolutions, as well as a full explanation about any expired products that may be found on store shelves.
At the end of the 18-month period, “they will submit a final certified report that, among other things, will compile all instances in which expired items were identified at the stores, any actual or recommended changes to Kmart’s policies, and an explanation of why such changes were or should be made,” Chiesa said.
There’s more: Kmart will maintain two “date code specialists” in each New Jersey store during the 18 months. They will, among other things, inspect all date-coded items on a written rotational calendar. Any breaches they find will be investigated by supervisory personnel within the store and reviewed by a compliance liaison, under the agreement.
“When parents buy infant formula and over-the-counter medication for their children, they have the absolute right to receive formula that has not expired and fully lives up to its advertised nutritional content — this is a no-brainer,” said Eric T. Kanefsky, the DCA’s acting director.
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