The truth about dollar stores and expired food

The truth about dollar stores and expired food

Most food items sold at dollar chains are not expired, and if they are, just barely.


Would you buy food at the dollar store? Many people are hesitant because they believe these cost-conscious outlets sell items that are long past their best-before dates. But is it really true? To find out, we visited six Toronto dollar stores and examined 129 pre-packaged food items.

Turns out 97% of the items we surveyed were fresh. At the big chains, Dollarama and the Great Canadian Dollar Store, we didn’t find a single item that was past its best-before date.

However, the independent stores didn’t fare so well. We found four out-of-date items, principally cake and bread mixes that were sitting on store shelves for an average of 86 days past the best-before date. Keep in mind that consuming an item past its best-before date is not necessarily a food safety concern: The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says you can buy and eat foods after the best-before date has passed, but the food may lose some of its freshness and flavour, or the texture may have changed.

While it may not be possible to find all the items on your grocery list in a dollar store, enough deals can be found to make the trip worthwhile. Limiting your food purchases to the larger dollar store chains may be your best bet, as many now carry major brands with the same quality as what you’ll find at the grocery store.

Great Canadian Dollar Store (2575 Danforth Ave.)

Product Best Before Date (BBD) Days before BBD Days past BBD
Humpty Dumpty Cheezies 3/14/2014 Within 2 months
Uncle Ray's Chips 9/10/2014
Prens Cookies 7/26/2014
Sun Maid Raisins 7/12/2014
Supreme Coffee 11/15/2014
Major Gourmet Italian Soup 2014-05
Gold Seal Sardines 9/12/2015
Vienna Sausage (Can) 9/15/2016
Cup of Noodles 3/7/2014 Within 2 months
Supreme Pickles 3/21/2015 Within 2 months

Viva Dollar Bazaar (1126 Bloor St. W.)

Product Best Before Date (BBD) Days before BBD Days Past BBD
Treat Me Biscuits 2015-01
Dr. Oetker Cake 1/12/2014 Past BBF 20
Dr. Oetker Chocolate 9/17/2013 Past BBF 137
Dr. Oetker Lemon 9/21/2013 Past BBF 133
Sandwich Cookies 2014-03 Within 2 months
Wafers 2015-02

Dollar Wise (1901 Yonge St.)

Product Best Before Date Days Before BBD Days past BBD
Brunswick Sardines 2018
Bella Boullion Cubes 2016
Added Touch Chocolate Cake 2015-06
Betty Crocker Corn Bread 12/10/2013 Past BBF 53
Holiday Ham 2015-05
Cardile Chocolate Cherries 8/20/2014
Treat Me Biscuits 2015-01

Dollarama (900 Dufferin St.)

Product Best Before Date (BBD) Past Best Before? Days Past BBF
Sriracha Sauce 2015
Classic Thai Sauce 2015
Frank's Red Hot 2015
Twisted Fruit Punch 2014-05
Tang 12/1/2015
Balance Rice Smoothie 1/25/2015
Heinz Mayo 9/14/2014
Medulin Mushrooms 5/20/2016
Aylmer corn 9/4/2015
Unico Mixed Veggies 12/2/2016
Chef Boyardee 10/4/2014
Coffee Mate 12/15/2015
Jello 7/24/2014
Quaker Dipps 8/2/2014
Tostagrill 11/1/2014
Finger Cookies 7/5/2014
Spaghetti 9/9/2015
Clark Chicken Noodle 2017-05
Chippy Peanut Butter 9/12/2015
Gourmet Soya Beverage 11/24/2014
Granola with Chocolate 11/21/2014
Betty Crocker Cake 12/11/2014
Salted Crackers 6/22/2014
Pie Crust 5/1/2014
Icing Sugar 2/15/2015