It will have happened to many, walking the aisles of the supermarket, to come across expired products. Or to realize once back home that a newly purchased product has already passed the indicated deadline. The first doubt, of course, is whether to consume the same food or whether to return to the merchant to ask for a replacement. Of course, it is also normal to ask ourselves if we can report the incident to the competent authorities and if the shop risks a penalty.
In short, can supermarkets sell expired products? To answer this question we must make a necessary clarification. Fresh products or products that require compliance with the so-called “cold chain”Risk becoming harmful to health if badly stored. In this case, any liability for bad storage could cause serious trouble for the merchant. The latter would risk the sanctions provided for by the EC regulation 178/02 and by article 444 of the Criminal Code. For items that have simply expired, things change dramatically.
What the Cassation says
The Supreme Court, with judgments 38841/2016 and 17063/2019, ruled that the sale of some expired food has no criminal relevance. Thus, a previous sentence against a trader is classified as a simple administrative offense. The Cassation has indicated two main guidelines. The sale of expired products that are not subject to rapid deterioration does not imply any sanctions, also with a view to combating food waste.
On the other hand, the criminal responsibility for the poor conservation of food products, especially if perishable, remains. In fact, a packet of long-life breadsticks that has expired for a few days has no harmful effects on health. Quite different speech for foods such as cheese, salami or eggs. For the hygiene discipline the dictates of the Law 283/61 remain fully valid. In particular, we remind you that food must be fully compliant with health and hygiene regulations regardless of their expiry date.
Can supermarkets sell expired products?
We understand that selling expired food products may not be a problem. This approach is in line with the international commitment to combat food waste. With this in mind, for some time now, many supermarkets have been offering products close to the expiration date at a reduced price. In fact, in some cases, dedicating special spaces to these offers. In other countries, especially in Northern Europe, they have gone further. In fact, entire supermarkets dedicated to expired but still intact and healthy products were born.
Chains such as the British Co-Op or the Danish WeFood specialize in this trade that allows prices lowered by more than 50%. The goal is to reconcile a reduction in waste with help for families in difficulty. The crisis has in fact drastically reduced the purchasing power for many citizens who, thanks to favorable legislation, now have one more option. In short, supermarkets can sell expired or aesthetically damaged products and help families. Some brilliant ideas for using spoiled wine in one of ours deepening.