Mailbag: expired products and kudzu bugs

Every day, we receive emails through our website from people who have questions related to agriculture or services provided by our department. Answering emails is part of our efforts to provide the best customer service to North Carolina residents. The following questions were answered by Jim Melvin, assistant director of the Food and Drug Protection Division, and Jim Burnette, director of the Structural Pest Control and Pesticides Division.

You can submit your own question about agriculture or NCDA&CS services at this link: www.ncagr.gov/htm/contactus.htm

NCDA&CS Food and Drug Protection Division Lab in Raleigh

Expired products

Question: What can we do regarding expired products being sold in the store in my work building? Most things have to be returned due to the fact they are expired. Candy bars are sell-date expired 2011, most medicines, drinks, chips almost everything. He has been told several times to remove items and then the next day they are for sale again. Please help. Thanks.

Answer: Thanks for inquiring about your concerns for out-of-date products being sold in your building. Best-by dates or date coding for most foods is used by most companies as the date that the quality of the product is predicted to decline below the company’s expectations of what the quality of the product should be. It is not an indicator of food safety. There are no laws on the books in North Carolina and, in general, the rest of the nation, which govern shelf life. The only exception is for infant formula and over-the-counter drugs. Where the re-selling of the products does not sound like a good business practice, it is not in violation of any regulations we could act on.

The Food and Drug Protection Division is responsible for the enforcement of North Carolina’s Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and administering programs designed to assure consumers that foods, drugs, devices and cosmetics are safe, wholesome, unadulterated, properly labeled, registered, manufactured, stored and distributed in a manner that ensures their safety and efficacy to consumers and the environment.

Kudzu bugs collect on a drain pipe (photo courtesy of UGA College of Ag)



Kudzu bugs

Question: We have a huge infestation in and on our house of kudzu bugs. They have been bad before but this year I cannot even let my kids go outside and play. I was doing some research on how to get rid of them, a futile search, and came across the suggestion that these bugs should be reported to the department of agriculture. They are really bad this year and I hear that they are really bad for certain crops. Just thought you should know that they are infesting the Garner area.

Answer: Thank you for your question and for taking the time to let us know of the problems you are facing. Please know that we realize the seriousness of your situation, and have heard similar concerns expressed by other residents.

Please know that we will work with farmers and our university scientists in every way possible to find a solution to this pest problem. Such efforts, particularly with a pest which we have dealt with for such a short time, takes time, and unfortunately, there is no perfect remedy in sight in the short term. In the meantime, I hope that these websites will be useful to you: www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/Urban/kudzubug.htm or  www.kudzubug.org/homeowner.html.

The Structural Pest Control and Pesticides Division protects the health and safety of the public and the environment by regulating the structural pest control industry and pesticide companies. It also enforces the laws governing safe use and disposal of pesticides, including licensing structural pest control and pesticide applicators.

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