LOS ANGELES — Like many people, Agneta Yilmaz has turned to Instacart to handle her shopping during the pandemic. She's trusted the company to deliver fresh groceries from a nearby Ralphs supermarket and, generally speaking, she's been pleased with the service.
So when the Beverly Hills resident recently opened a box of Celeste frozen pepperoni pizza for her 4-year-old granddaughter, she was shocked to discover it was completely brown and smelled, as Yilmaz put it, "like when you go to the bathroom."
Yilmaz, 78, told me she immediately checked the expiration date on the box. It said, "Recommended use by Dec-12-17."
Which is to say, three years ago.
Which is to say, ew!
A Ralphs spokesman acknowledged the incident and said the company is stepping up efforts to ensure all food products on shelves are fresh.
This is an unusual situation. But it speaks to larger issues involving product safety and the food supply chain.
Earlier this year, CNBC found that Amazon was shipping expired food items from third-party sellers. Half of the top-selling companies in Amazon's Grocery & Gourmet section had received complaints about selling outdated food products, according to a study commissioned by the network.
Generally speaking, reports of expired food being delivered to people's homes are infrequent and there's little evidence that the danger of tainted food has increased as a result of the pandemic.
But what happened to Yilmaz should, if nothing else, serve as a reminder that it's important to check expiration dates on all food products.