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Ever found an expired product on a store’s shelf? If so – and if you noticed before you bought it – you probably either put it back, brought it to an employee’s attention, or if it happened often enough in the same store, chose to do your shopping somewhere else. Finding out-of-date items for sale can be annoying, and sometimes kind of nauseating. But is stocking expired food illegal?

Well, Pennsylvania regulators don’t look so kindly upon the practice. The state Attorney General’s office on Wednesday announced a $450,000 settlement with CVS, in which the drug store chain agreed to provide coupons worth $3.50 off just about anything in the store, to any shopper who finds an expired product on a CVS shelf anywhere in the state.

To some determined CVS couponers, that’s not a promise – that’s a challenge. Find an expired product, get a $3.50 coupon? Let’s go to CVS and find us some expired products, pronto!

The real idea, of course, is to ensure that CVS has an incentive to no longer stock any expired products. Then again, that was the idea in 2010, when CVS and Pennsylvania settled an earlier dispute, with CVS agreeing to pay a $250,000 fine, and offer $2 coupons to anyone who found expired food in its stores.

And apparently, CVS handed over a lot of $2 coupons.

As part of a compliance check, to ensure that CVS was holding up its end of the 2010 bargain, the Attorney General’s office said “agents allegedly reported finding expired products, including infant formula and drugs made for children, at five of the six CVS stores they visited. CVS employees in two cases also allegedly bypassed a register prompt that was designed to prohibit the sale of expired products.”

So the two sides agreed to a new settlement that ups the penalties – this time, CVS will pay $450,000 and raise the coupons’ value to $3.50.

The original dispute centered on expired over-the-counter drugs, infant formula, baby food and dairy products – the kind of stuff that can really go bad when it gets old – as opposed to more shelf-stable products that are actually good well past their printed “sell by” date. But the Pennsylvania settlement requires CVS to grant a coupon to anyone who finds an expired product of any kind. It also requires CVS to put in place better internal auditing systems, and to “prominently post notices in the aisles where baby food, dairy products, infant formula and over-the-counter drugs are offered for sale, reminding customers to check the ‘Sell By’ or ‘Expiration’ dates.”

Several other states have expressed concerns in recent years about the dates on products stocked at CVS. Maryland reached a similar settlement in 2013, while California, New York and Connecticut all did the same back in 2009. So if you don’t live in any of those states, but find expired products at your local CVS, you might be inclined to bring it to the attention of your own state’s Attorney General.

All of those settlements, like the original Pennsylvania agreement, required CVS to give out $2 coupons. So Pennsylvania’s new settlement isn’t unique, but it does offer the highest-value coupons of any of the agreements.

In a statement, CVS said it “has not admitted any liability or wrongdoing, and has entered into this agreement to avoid unnecessary expense, inconvenience or uncertainty of further investigation or legal proceedings.” The statement went on to say that “CVS/pharmacy makes every effort to ensure that expired products are not sold to customers, and we have a clear product removal policy and procedures in place at all of our stores to help ensure that items are removed from store shelves before they reach their expiration dates. Any unintentional deviations from this policy that are brought to the company‚Äôs attention are quickly rectified for customers.”

Rectified, in the form of the best CVS coupon you’re likely to find anywhere. At $3.50 a pop, finding expired infant formula and pharmaceuticals can earn you a whole lot of free (unexpired) baby food and dairy products.

Purposely seeking out expired food just to score coupons isn’t the point, of course. So going on an expired food treasure hunt in order to collect coupons isn’t exactly advisable. In the end, high-value coupons are nice, but unexpired products are better. It’s up to CVS now, to determine which one it’s more likely to provide.

Photo by JeepersMedia


  1. They are still giving the $3.50 coupons my son has had at least 1,500 off them. I am still spending them

  2. Who’s responsible for removing food off the shelf’s? CVS says the distributor and the distributor says CVS? thanks Alex

  3. Pingback: CVS – Find Expired Item, Get $3.50 Coupon! – Sometimes you Need to let things go

  4. So, as of today, 12/5/2016, I have over 400 coupons worth $3.50 each, issued by CVS stores, about 6 of them in total, that I have been to in the Pittsburgh area. It’s nothing for me to walk into a store, grab a cart, and find expired items. It may be a 6 pack of water, a whole box of Luna bars, 45 slim jims, or 2 pints of ice cream. Some stores actually thank me, and some stores are nasty. There is no rule that says you cannot grab a cart and seek out expired items, and that’s exactly what I do. I actually did run into a CVS two days ago, to grab a case of water and some peanut butter cups. I could not help checking out expiration dates on 1 liter cokes when I got my water, and they were all dated 11/6/16. There were 11 of them, and they were all expired. I went and got a cart, threw them in, and I first got my 11 $3.50 coupons and then used 2 of them from another store, to checkout my water and 2 peanut butter cups. Tonight I found fiber one and luna bars, on the bottom shelf, dusty and expired by 1 year 2 months. There were 8 left in the luna bar box, and when I took the box off the shelf, another one fell down, unopened, and it was expired as well, so the cashier opened it and I got 18 more, so for 26 expired luna bars I got $91 in coupons! It’s so easy so find expired items, they should be ashamed of themselves. If I can run in and in 20 mins be back in my car with $400 in coupons, think what a worker can do even if they looked for 30 mins, in an 8 hour shift. I do not care what they think, I do not care what anyone thinks. I could be saving someone from getting deathly ill. I will continue on going until the money runs out that they have reserved to print the coupons. Do I use the coupons? Yes I do, for dish liquid, paper towels, etc., I also buy shampoo and feminine products and donate to womens shelter, I buy toothpaste and toothbrushes and donate to the homeless shelter, etc. I think it’s great that these coupons can help so many people, and corporate issues them, so it’s not theft, it’s not petty, it’s not a disgrace. What is a disgrace is the CVS that sells 1.2 year old food right in front of the pharmacy or under your nose at the checkout. I won’t go into detail of the items that i find at every store, but just open your eyes!

    • That is astounding! And sounds like it’s costing CVS a whole lot of money.

      • Anonymous employee says:

        I personally work at a CVS here in pa and I know this is a very delayed response however the thing most people don’t know is we don’t just walk and look for items strewn throughout the store. We get a sheet that prints out once a week and we go to check the listed sections on the sheet. We have no control over when they come out I’ve worked for CVS for 2 years now and I do outdates every week and I can name 2 sections I’ve only seen once in my 2 years. We are told not to touch other sections because on the sheet we are to mark what quantity of items we find. Most of the time i do not mind giving out the coupons however we get penalized for something we have no control over. CVS tracks how many coupons we issue and you are reprimanded based on if you give out too many. Another thing to keep in mind and this has happened to me several times is when we get a section to do outdates on always seems to be when people come in and beat you to the punch because you are helping another customer. I do not have a problem with people who do this and donate items such as yourself in fact I encourage the people who go way overboard on this to try it sometime. My issue is when I have people come in and spend 4 to 5 hours scouring the store looking for items and then turn around and buy 130 to 150 worth of items with them. Maybe this post will help some people with questions maybe it won’t and to the person who asked about a limit technically the limit is 1 as our system recognizes each one as the same so we can only scan one coupon before the rest become duplicates and won’t let us scan but after that we can manually enter as many as we want as long as we have a managers override.

        • I have found expired food items in my local CVS stores in PA in the past and received $3.50 coupons. This past week both of the store managers told me that they are no longer giving out $3.50 coupons except for baby items and dairy. I found a few expired things in both the stores and they refused to print out the coupons. I pointed out that the credit card scanner on the counter says that if you find any expired product you are to receive the coupon or contact the Attorney General. They said their district manager said it was up to the manager’s discretion. I stop in their stores about once a week for about l/2 hour and I do purchase items. Should I report these stores to the Attorney General? Is anyone else running into this?

          • They HAVE to give you the coupons. Call the district manager and he/she will go to the store that denied you and make them print them out and mail to you I promise.

        • So is this at all cvs they provide you with the 3.50

    • +i, William. A friend of mine just shared 24 of her $3.50 coupons with me. She got 95 coupons yesterday and almost another 50 today! Do you have any idea how many coupons you can redeem in a single transaction? She told me that she’s never used, nor tried to use, more than four in a single transaction. I’d like to buy some quit smoking patches selling for $40.99, utilizing 11 coupons. Thanks in advance.

      • There is no cap on the redemption, there is simply no cash back for overage that’t all. There is no cap on how many are issued either, for expired items. Yesterday I bought dog treats, 2 dove chocolate bags, couple cans cat food, spent $30 by using 8 coupons and paid .52 cash is all I owed. I also found 14 expired KIND bars at the register so I got 14 more coupons lol. You should be able to use them, it is not one per item or per transaction, do not let them tell you that.

        • Sweet. Thanks so much for your reply.

        • I tried to redeem a few at a time but the manager at the CVS near my home gave me a hard time and me look like an @$$ in front of my kids. Is there a policy somewhere online or at cvs that allows me to spend more than one on a transaction? If so I’d really like to have it in hand when I go back to that cvs. Thanks

          • There is a 250 page document, it changes all the time. It used to be one per transaction, then one per item, now it’s just an open dollar amount. They are supposed to scan one, for 3.50, the type in the total before tax for the rest. You should call your regional manager. It is unlimited.

  5. You know what, CVS has being lying about what they are going to do with this program. I live in San Diego/La Jolla/Pacific Beach area, and I still easily saw expired items on the shelf each time I visited the stores, but since 2010, if I found items expired and took to the front desk, almost all the store managers would tell you there has been never such program existed. If I showed a print of the following
    only 1 or 2 store managers would issue $2 coupon like they gave you an exception. But 90% of the stores will tell you that doesn’t mean anything because their store just does not have this policy. You have to show a “printed CVS issued policy”, not the “court issued policy”. But CVS just does not issue this policy, what can you do? Some store managers will even humiliate you in public by saying that possibly you placed that expired items on their shelf.I already both called and emailed CVS about whether they can email me a copy of the policy so that I can show to the store manager, but they never responded to my request.
    Anyway, think about that, CVS used this settlement to get away with paying penalty for selling expired items, so how can they be willing to pay you for expired items?

  6. The cashier in CVS in Belton , SC said that they don’t give ECB for expired products.
    Do I call the corporate office?

  7. Please note- CVS limits the issue to a PER DAY PER CARD/PERSON, not PER ITEM. The agreement with the AG does not seem to provide any guidelines so CVS can limit the number of coupons while getting people to clean its shelves. If you attempt to use multiple cards, my local CVS has been getting the numbers and having the cards voided as there is a one card / household policy.

    • The old agreement was one per day, the new one is per item. I’ve read the agreement. Whoever is telling you this is either lying or misinformed.

  8. Sure wish they would do this at Rite Aid. They have so many expired products on their shelves and the employees don’t particularly care when you bring it to their attention either. I have no issues using the occasional expired product sitting in the cupboard at my home but I’m not interested in buying a bag of chips that expired 3 months ago.

  9. Shoprite used to offer a $1 store coupon if you found an expired coupon. I don’t think they do it anymore, but my kids used to go right to the dairy case and find a bunch of expired stuff when we went to the store.

    Food Emporium and A&P used to give you an equivalent item free if you found an expired one. At one point, I think FE upped the ante and was giving *3* of the item if you found one that was expired. Now, THAT was a great deal!

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