A settlement between the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs and Kmart was announced Friday, in which the retail giant will pay $302,500, donate $25,000 worth of infant formula to charity, pay for continued unannounced state inspections, and implement meaningful remedial measures to inspect its merchandise, after 19 KMart stores in New Jersey were found to have sold or offered for sale expired infant formula and non-prescription medications.
The announcement was made by Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.
Inspections by Division of Consumer Affairs investigators found a total of 257 packages of infant formula and/or non-prescription medications that were 9 to 29 months past the expiration date but were still on shelves, available for purchase, at the 19 stores. Investigators purchased 68 expired items.
The stores are located in Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Essex, Gloucester, Mercer, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, and Somerset counties .
Under the settlement, among other requirements, Kmart will appoint two senior-level management employees for 18 months as compliance liaisons with the Division of Consumer Affairs. They will conduct unannounced inspections of Kmart’s New Jersey stores to identify expiring and expired products, and review the stores’ compliance policies regarding expiration dates of infant formula and non-prescription medication. Their findings will be submitted to the DCA.
Kmart will also maintain two “date code specialists” in each New Jersey store, for at least the duration of the 18-month period. Any breaches they find will be investigated by supervisory personnel within the store and reviewed by a compliance liaison.
“Some products were more than two years past the expiration date,” Attorney General Chiesa said. “This is unacceptable and a clear violation of our consumer protection laws.”
Also under the settlement, Kmart will pay a total of $302,500 to the State, including $255,000 in penalties and fees. Kmart will also donate $25,000 worth of unexpired infant formula to one or more charities that provide direct assistance to infants and their parents or legal guardians.
“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. When patients buy medication, they expect that it has not expired and will properly address their symptoms without unduly posing a new health risk,” said Eric T. Kanefsky, acting director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.
Over-the-counter drugs have unique formulations that consist of inactive and active ingredients to treat specific diseases. Medications consumed after the shelf life indicated by manufacturers may have undergone chemical changes, may be less effective, and may pose potentially serious health consequences.
The FDA mandates that all medications have expiration dates to help ensure that the sale and use of medication occurs within the drug’s shelf life.