Brooklyn’s Emporium ‘Fresh’ Market Caught Removing Expiration Dates from Costco Pies and Reselling Them
The Fresh Emporium Supermarket in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, was caught trying to make a fast buck in November, two bucks to be exact, by removing the expiration date from Costco pumpkin pies and then reselling the pies, which are supposed to be refrigerated, at room temperature. Records from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, the agency charged with regulating grocery stores in the state, show that it’s not the first time the state has investigated the business for shady business practices.
The market was observed by this reporter the day before Thanksgiving reselling the pies for $7.99 (which retail at Costco for $5.99) without the expiration date and at room temperature despite a warning on the label that the pies are perishable and instructs consumers to “keep refrigerated until ready to serve.” The expiration date is printed with a bold red circle around it (see picture below).
Reselling goods or even selling expired goods is not against New York state law, but removing the expiration date from an item and reselling it is against the law, according to the State Department of Agriculture and Markets.
The store was previously known at A&K Supermarket Inc, and management failed to notify state officials when they changed the name to Emporium Fresh Market, according to the latest inspection report on file.
A Freedom of Information Law request filed by Dos Lives with the state agency revealed two complaints – one in 2008 about expired candy apples and another in 2009 that reported the store was adding chunks of fat to chicken to increase its weight and selling expired salad dressing.
In both situations, store management told inspectors they were aware of the complaint, according to state records, and when inspectors arrived they found no evidence of misconduct. As in the other cases, inspectors found no evidence of the pumpkin pies being resold without expiration dates when they investigated this reporter’s complaint, but this time photo evidence was taken to document the wrongdoing (see photo in this article).
Business license records for the grocery story are not public information, but a Freedom of Information Law request revealed that the President of A&K Supermarket Corp., which owns the store, is Anthony Fernandez, 30, and an inspection report identified the store manager as Gilberto Fernandez. One store employee did not recognize either name when asked, but a man identified as Jose who declined to give his last name, said he is the daytime manager and that both men were unavailable to comment and would not share any contact information for them.
Jose said that store manager who bought the pies “made a mistake by removing the expiration date, but it was not intentional.”
Jose’s statement contradicts what a store manager who identified himself as “Manny” told this reporter on November 23, the night the pumpkin pies were observed on display. Manny told this reporter that the store [management] knew that removing the expiration date was wrong, but that they did it anyway.
Jose said the store resells Costco pies around holidays and that the store will no longer remove the expiration date from the pies and will refrigerate the pumpkin pies in the future.
Costco officials did not return calls for comment on this story.