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Receiving expired food as a gift

My sister owns a food distributorship. For Christmas, she starting wrapping expired cookies and passing them out as gifts. We didn't say anything, just threw them away. One year she took them out of the box and put them on plates and distributed them. The problem is, now we couldn't see how old they were. Also, I wondered if they were already opened and perhaps used as store samples. I would appreciate hearing how this should be handled.

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  1. Not that there is anything wrong with the cookies, but that's a really cheap move by your sister. Re-gift them to her at easter.

    Prior discussion on this topic

    2 Replies
    1. re: Bkeats

      'Re-gift them to her at Easter.' HAW! They will soon be like the Eternal Fruitcake.

      1. Neighbor got into an argument with a soon to be former girlfriend

        He told her, you are dead to me

        Seems a good way to finalize things

        Tell your sister if she continues to upset you, "you are dead to me"

        That should stop the cookies

        1. Welcome to CH!

          How old are we talking? Cookies can stay fresh WAY past the expiration date, which is often really a sell by date. A few weeks, even a month seems fine to me.

          I do think its odd she wrapped them as gifts and didn't just say "hey these were just going to be thrown away since we can't sell them. Do you guys want them?"

          If they are 6 months to year old I know that with my sister I could have just tossed them back at her, laughed and said are you kidding me? And we would have both had a good laugh.

          In terms of thinking your sister is actually giving you opened packaged of store samples? I think that speaks more of your relationship if you cant have an honest conversation with her. Sounds like there might be trust issues. What do your siblings/parents/family members think?

          1 Reply
          1. re: foodieX2

            I appreciate your response. Yes, I think you are on to something with the trust issue. Probably, we need to work on that. thank you!

          2. This is like something from an episode of "Extreme Cheapskates". If she wants to eat them or bring them home for her own family to eat, fine, but to wrap expired overstock cookies and give them as a gift? The height of stinginess. I would continue to thank her politely and throw them out. And, I would certainly not break the bank buying her gifts! Out of curiosity, what kind of cookie are these? A regular supermarket brand?

            4 Replies
            1. re: Kat

              Yes, regular supermarlet brand. Thank you for your reply!

              1. re: kdd452

                It is bad enough to give someone regular supermarket cookies as a wrapped gift for Christmas, but expired supermarket cookies that you couldn't sell??? Forget what I said about tossing them. I love the above regifting idea for Easter!

                1. re: kdd452

                  Nothing says love like a packet of expired Keebler!

                2. re: Kat

                  Sounds to me like it could be an episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" where Larry David accidently witnessed the re-wrapping of the cookies. He knows they are way over expired and has to eat one in front of the giver. Ha!!!

                3. I think it depends a lot on what the expiry date was in the first place. If these were relatively fresh cookies with a date a week or two out and you were getting them already expired, I'd tend to agree with tossing them or declining them if you're offered them in person. If they're shelf-stable packaged foods with an expiry date that's a year or two from when they were manufactured, I wouldn't worry about it if they're now a month or two out of date and just eat them. They didn't likely get much worse in that timespan.

                  Either way, it's a pretty obvious cost-saving move on your sister's part -- might be a sign that she's going through tough financial times or that she's just terminally tight-fisted or that in her expertise, she recognizes that expiry dates are often meaningless and this is the one way she can avoid wasting otherwise perfectly good food.

                  1. I'd accept with a smile then, give them to the homeless.

                    18 Replies
                    1. re: cstr

                      If its not good/safe enough for you to eat why would you give it to someone else?

                      1. re: foodieX2

                        I didn't say that, I assume that although a marketing designed expiration date had past, the cookies were not poison. That is, unless my sis was looking for the inheritance. Goodness knows, I've taken many a pill past the expiration date and lived, so cookies are a no brainer.

                        1. re: cstr

                          So then why would you give them to the "homeless" if they are perfectly fine??

                          1. re: foodieX2

                            Like most food gifts I receive, I have so much that if I keep them I'll eat them so, I give it away. I like to think that it's nice to give to others in need. Sheesh.

                          1. re: Beach Chick

                            While I don't really buy that chart (thin mints taste just as good after finding them a year later in the freezer!) if you do believe it and pass expired cookies off to the "homeless" that is even more deplorable. And its shameful too.

                            1. re: foodieX2

                              I never go by charts such as those; I have had cookies last longer than 5 months in my freezer and when thawed, tasted perfectly fine. Same with a open package of cookies; I think it all depends on how it's stored.

                              1. re: Cherylptw

                                Agreed, storage can make a huge difference. I have had milk that was perfectly fine a week after the expiration date and yet yogurt that went bad before its date.

                          2. re: foodieX2

                            Because a homeless person is not trolling around on chowhound talking about cookies or anything else. I'd guess a homeless person would be stoked for a box of keebler, expired or not. Or pretty much any food they got.

                            Except one time I tried to give a homeless person some dried fruit in a bulk style plastic bag. He held it up said "What is this?" I said "Dried... whatever" (I don't remember... persimmon or something not super common). He said "I don't want that! Don't you have any beef jerky?" He gave it back to me, I said "No, sorry" and walked away. But I would bet a lot of money he would take keebler cookies.

                          3. re: LexiFirefly

                            I think there is some warped logic in the idea that the only choices must be to either eat them or throw them away. The idea that one person may not want the gift but that others might seems to be fairly innocuous and even charitable.

                            1. re: calumin

                              I agree it seems warped but we are not talking about a "day old cookie". Day old cookies get eaten in this house!

                              If you saw what I saw at the shelter/food bank I volunteer at, especially in January when people think its fine to dump all their expired/opened foods left over from the holidays you would understand that its pretty shameful. If you won't eat it you don't have to throw it away but assuming that the homeless would grateful for food you think is less worthy is wrong.

                              I am not immune compromised but many of the people who live on the streets and take advantage of the shelter and food bank are. We have very strict guidelines on what expired foods we can accept and while we are happy to get all kinds of foods we prefer to get wholesome, high caloric foods, especially in the winter.

                              It's the attitude "oh the homeless will eat it and be grateful!" that is shameful. If you (general you) wouldn't eat it, don't expect the "homeless" would either.

                              1. re: foodieX2

                                That's what I was saying. I manage a soup kitchen in a fairly large city and throw out tons of stuff people think is fine. Which in actual fact can do a lot of harm. Not to mention the emotional repercussions that happen when people receive those "gifts"

                                1. re: foodieX2

                                  I applaud people who volunteer for soup kitchens, food banks etc.
                                  When I hear about freezer burned turkey's and rusted dented canned goods.

                                  You must have the patience of Job..

                                  1. re: foodieX2

                                    The OP was not saying the cookies were not edible or a health hazard (and he/she probably assumed the sister would not give poisonous cookies as a gift).

                                    The fact is there are entire stores that sell foods at a cheaper price that are expired or near expiration. People who can afford not to eat them don't, but others do with no ill health effects.

                                    1. re: calumin

                                      The thing that intrigues me is the 'best by date' one day it's fine the next it's not, especially for dry/baked goods. I think these dates are a marketing game.

                                    2. re: foodieX2

                                      I also volunteer at a homeless shelter, do cookies really expire. I have only seen best used by dates on them.

                                      1. re: treb

                                        Products like cookies have a 'best before' date, NOT an 'expiry date'... it's not as if the clock passes midnight and they turn into deadly poison. They just gradually go stale. It's entirely a personal judgement how long they're edible for - we bought a pack of christmas cookies from Aldi and it was HORRIBLE and I'm sure it was nowhere near the expiry date yet. I wouldn't have given them to a dog... but other packs have sat on our shelf for six months unopened and been just fine.

                                      2. re: foodieX2

                                        I totally agree with this sentiment, and yet I think we are talking about cookies that "general you" WOULD eat. Obviously OP's sister thinks everyone wants to eat these cookies, but then OP's sister probably doesn't spend time on chowhound. I agree homeless people should have healthy wholesome food. But the question remains, what to do with these cookies that I'm assuming OP wouldn't buy in the first place?

                                  2. LOL - this reminds me of a thread I created back in April of 2012:


                                    1. Thank you for a lot of great feed back. One other part of this is, what if you invited people over, and the sister that gifts expired store cookies comes and gives your guests plates of these opened cookies. Would you notify your guests that they are probably expired? If so, how?

                                      Thanks again. This is a real situation in our family.

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: kdd452

                                        If it's that much of a "real situation" within your family why don't you all get together and handle it?

                                        1. re: miss_belle

                                          I believe OP is asking for advice on HOW to handle it, so I would assume their goal is to handle it.

                                          1. re: Kontxesi

                                            Yes, thank you. I think both if and how.

                                          2. re: miss_belle

                                            We have discussed it and have differing opinions. Just looking for other perspectives.

                                            1. re: miss_belle

                                              I agree. Yet another NAF post that reflects more about the OP who clearly is looking for affirmation that her sister is the most evil person on earth.

                                            2. re: kdd452

                                              I would not mention anything to the guests, stale cookies are self evident and they will figure out what to do.
                                              Perhaps insisting your sister not bring gifts for the guests is one way to handle it.

                                              I would advise you have a conversation with your sister saying that the gesture is appreciated, however for gifts between the two of you next year you would rather she make a donation to xxx charity, and you will reciprocate to the charity of her choice.

                                              1. re: kdd452

                                                Expired cookies, no big deal... the recipient will taste them and either eat them or not. Expired MILK or MEAT or anything that develops actual toxic effects with age no go. Some people are just scunges and there's nothing you can do about them (one of our aunts used to gift 'clearance' products annually - we generally just tossed them out.)

                                              2. Bizarre. But harmless. Why make a big deal of it?

                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                    After those year old eggs you ate, cookies can last a decade!

                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                      I like the kind that spontaneously combust.

                                                      Seriously, I'd treat the expired cookies same as unexpired one: Put them out at coffee hour at church. Unless they are actually rotten or something.

                                                      But tacky move on the OP's sister's part.

                                                    2. If they taste stale, I would let her know right away.

                                                      If not, I would eat them.

                                                      I wouldn't re gift them or give them away to anyone because I don't give expired food to anyone.

                                                      Immediate feedback on how they taste might help. Like... "oh, too bad, these cookies are stale"... " thanks for the thought". Then throw them out. She might re-think her gift choices.

                                                      1. My father had food issues and a great love of surplus outlet type of stores. He saw nothing wrong with past date food and I learned to never mention I liked anything as he would buy pallets of chocolate, pickles, etc if he knew he had someone to give it to.

                                                        It sounds like sister has some sort of issue. I would take the easy way out and just ignore the food and throw it out later.

                                                        Unless the sister is a food pusher but that requires another thread....

                                                        1. How charming... it's one thing to say 'here, these are at their expiry date and we can't sell them, would you like some? Or to put them out and say 'here, we need to use these up before they go bad, please help me eat them!' The cookies are most likely perfectly good, and one sniff would tell if they're stale, but you don't try to pretend they're a special present!

                                                          1. Is this really about expired cookies or does anyone else find it odd someone would give packaged store bought food as a gift?

                                                            5 Replies
                                                            1. re: Scoutmaster

                                                              Well, it wasn't bought, and I've certainly bought things like truffles and panettone and jam as a gift. And that side of smoked salmon...uh, yes. But maybe you meant something else?

                                                              1. re: lemons

                                                                Haha, lemons, yes, I think scoutmaster meant "isn't it odd that someone would give generic crap food to a foodie?".

                                                              2. re: Scoutmaster

                                                                Isn't it the thought that counts.

                                                                1. re: treb

                                                                  Nothing says 'I love you' like expired supermarket baked goods... it took a whole minute to go and buy them from the clearance table! Oh wait, she didn't even have to pay for them - she's the one selling the stuff. :P

                                                                  1. re: treb

                                                                    Not always. Sometimes it is the lack of thought that matters. As in, do you really value me that little that you didn't put any thought into what you sent me?

                                                                    Obviously, I'm on the receiving end, also by my dear sister, who can afford to do better. Last gift she sent me, a blouse was 2 sizes too small, and she cut off all the tags and didn't include a gift receipt, so I couldn't return it (it went straight to Goodwill). One time she left the tags on, but when I tried to return it, the store wouldn't take it back since it had been marked down numerous times. That also went to Goodwill...

                                                                    She also sent me a tin of pirouette cookies, I should check for the date when I get home. (She usually sends Lindt truffles. ) I forgot to look!

                                                                2. I agree the weird part is gifting them. It is totally cool to say "Oh wow, look at all this food we can't sell, want some?" And you can say yes or no.

                                                                  Also weird that they are just generic crap, and you clearly like GOOD food, being a poster on a foodie message board. Says your sister is not only being weird and cheap but clueless as to your interests, or possibly passive aggressive.

                                                                  I think you should start by collaborating with the host of next year's festivities and announce a "No gifts" rule (any kids can be an exception - no gifts between adults). If that seems party pooperish, then include an option to donate to a charity of the host's choice (or just a general charity clause to the charity of any person's choice), all donations in honor of the family.

                                                                  Also you need to figure out what it is about with your sister - a weird food hoarding issue? A cheapskate issue? A passive aggressive jab at you issue? And then address that with her directly.

                                                                  I also like these suggestions from PPs:

                                                                  Immediate feedback on how they taste might help. Like... "oh, too bad, these cookies are stale"... " thanks for the thought". Then throw them out. She might re-think her gift choices.

                                                                  I would advise you have a conversation with your sister saying that the gesture is appreciated, however for gifts between the two of you next year you would rather she make a donation to xxx charity, and you will reciprocate to the charity of her choice.

                                                                  1. I buy expired, or nearly expired, cookies and crackers from places like Big Lots, Grocery Outlet, and my local butcher all the time. I'd rather eat an Italian or Belgian cookie (e.g. Speculos) than an Oreo that's well within the 'best-by-date'. Though my current package of Newman's own 'oreos' is dated 2/14/2014.

                                                                    'best by date' does not mean 'unsafe after this date'. Yes baked goods might be stale after that date, though that happens a lot faster after opening.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                      I buy and eat expired food all the time but I would NEVER give it as a gift.

                                                                    2. It's a cookie! Who gives a darn. Do you people really look at expiration dates of cookies. These are shelf stable items. Worse that could happen is its stale.
                                                                      Get over it!

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                        Why would you want stale cookies as a gift?

                                                                        1. re: calumin

                                                                          It's a gift. Toss it if it's not up to your standards

                                                                          1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                            Right. But I could wrap up the garbage in my trash can and give you that as a gift, and leave it up to you to do as you see fit.

                                                                            I think the point is people generally like to give gifts that they think others would enjoy.

                                                                      2. I wouldn't own this problem on anyone's behalf. By this I mean that if she wants to give them to others, that is between her and the recipient. If she gives them to you, you can decide what to do with them. I don't think this needs to be handled at all.

                                                                        Some people are just weird about giving and there's nothing anyone can do.