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Expired meds and baby food still for sale

October 7, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
A local push got under way Wednesday to get governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign a bill that would ban the sale of expired baby formula, baby food and over-the-counter medicines. When the aches and pains set in, people are quick to head to the medicine aisle of their local store.

There, the big, colorful print may make the sale but consumer watchdogs say it's the small print that can end up costing people considerably more than the price of medicine.

"Retailers across California are selling expired products which could be toxic or harmful for consumers," said Assemblyman Ted Lieu.

Lieu authored Assembly Bill 1512, which would make it illegal for a store in California to sell expired medicines, baby food or baby formula.

At a news conference in downtown L.A., the Consumer Federation of California showed a table of some three dozen medications all bought at Rite-Aid stores across the state. They were all expired.

"40 percent of the Rite-Aid stories in California today are selling expired over-the-counter medicine, baby food and infant formula," said Richard Holober, Consumer Federation of California.

The fines associated with this bill can add up quickly. Just one expired item could cost a retailer $10 for every day past its expiration date. That's roughly $300 a month multiplied by however many items are found.

"This Excedrin that is 10 months expired, is now a $3,000 fine problem for the pharmacy that sold it," said Lieu.

And that's just one bottle which could explain why retail and grocery associations are against the bill.

But while the legislation has been passed by both the assembly and senate, it's sitting unsigned on Governor Schwarzenegger's desk along with some 700 other bills.

The governor is ignoring them unless lawmakers give him a deal on an unrelated issue.

"Bills should be judged on their merits and not be used as extortion," said Lieu.

But the clock is ticking and the legislative deadline is Sunday, which means we're just days away from the expiration date for the expiration date bill.

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