AB 688 Would Prohibit Sale of Expired Infant Food and Formula, OTC Medications


Posted on 19 September 2011

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By Dr. Richard Pan
California State Assembly

Today families and consumer advocates will join at the State Capitol to urge the Governor to sign AB 688, a common sense measure needed to protect Californians from the risks of consuming expired infant food and formula as well as over-the-counter drugs.  I have authored AB 688 to prohibit retail stores from stocking or selling infant food and formula after the “use by” date, and over-the-counter drugs past the expiration date.

Expired products deprive the consumer of the intended benefit of the product because of degradation and spoilage with time. For example, infants that do not receive adequate nutrients may suffer from impaired growth and brain development.  Furthermore, expired products may be dangerous to consume with potentially fatal side effects.  Seniors who are advised by their doctors to take aspirin during a heart attack or stroke may inadvertently consume expired aspirin with decreased potency for relief. 

A diverse group of organizations supports this effort to give consumers confidence that the infant food and formula they buy and give to their children is safe and nutritious and that the over-the-counter medications we take to protect our health are effective. The California Alliance of Retired Americans will join us in support of AB 688 because seniors need to know that over-the-counter medications can effectively address chronic health challenges they may face.  We will also be joined by Dale Proctor and his baby son Kai of Woodland.  Kai became violently ill after consuming baby food that was left on the shelf for seven months after its “use by” date. 

The Consumer Federation of California, sponsor of AB 688, will discuss major investigations by then-Attorney General Jerry Brown’s office, News 10 San Diego and others that found major retailers throughout California have been selling these expired products. The California Healthy Communities Network will also discuss how these expired products impact the health of economically disadvantaged communities. We will also be joined many other diverse organizations, including United Food and Commercial Workers and CALPIRG.

The diversity of the groups and individuals supporting AB 688 reflects the broad impact unsafe retail products can have on public health.  As a parent of two young children, I know how important it is for families to have confidence that the infant food and formula they buy for their children will help them grow up healthy. As a pediatrician, I know that letting babies grow up without proper nutrition can impact their physical and mental development. This is simply unacceptable.

When I discuss this effort with my constituents, they are often shocked to find out that retailers are not only free to keep these expired products on their shelves, but to advertise and sell them to their customers.  By signing AB 688, the Governor can make sure Californians can rely on these products to protect their health, giving consumers peace of mind and our children a healthier start to life. Please urge the Governor to sign this important legislation.

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Assemblymember Dr. Richard Pan represents California's 5th Assembly District and is an Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the University of California, Davis.