California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. wants CVS Pharmacy to stop selling expired products, including baby food and over-the-counter medications, which were discovered during a recent undercover shopping investigation in Southern California.
He also asked the chain to comply with California laws requiring proper storage and disposal consumer's confidential medical and financial information.
"State investigators found that dozens of CVS pharmacies in Southern California have old and expired products, including medicines and baby food," Brown said. "CVS Pharmacy should immediately pull these expired products from its shelves and ensure that these consumer safety violations do not occur again."
During a recent undercover shopping operation, state investigators found 48 expired products on the shelves of 26 CVS Pharmacies in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego Counties.
Some -- which included baby formula, toddler food, and over-the-counter medications -- were between four and six months old. Investigators also discovered expired food products including milk and eggs. Some of the "sell by" dates were hidden with price tags or other store stickers.
Recent investigations by the New York Attorney General have found that CVS stores in New York have engaged in similarly unlawful selling practices.
Although California law does not explicitly prohibit the sale of certain expired products, federal laws require that products contain expiration dates. The attorney general contends that placing expired items on its shelves violates false advertising and unfair business practices statues because CVS falsely implies that its products meet national quality control standards.
Brown also asked the company to disclose its formal policies regarding the collection, retention and destruction of such information to determine whether the company is complying with California law.
The attorney general said he has reason to believe CVS may not have properly safeguarded or disposed of consumers' private health and financial information, in violation of state consumer protection laws.
In February, 2008 Brown reached a settlement with The Walgreen Company after state investigators discovered that that company had failed to properly retain, safeguard and dispose of confidential customer information, in violation of California laws. Under the terms of that settlement, Walgreens agreed to revise its disposal and retention policies, implement employee training, and review those policies annually.