The Sickening Problems With Fiesta Mart in Texas

Graphic by Tom Eats Houston
We've all run across items in a supermarket that are past their expiration date. It doesn't happen very often, and when it does (in my experience) the product is only a day or two past the date recommended by the manufacturer. Many grocery stores will mark items down when they get near their "sell by" date to move them out quickly. 

However, our friends at Tom Eats Houston found a supermarket that chronically keeps long-out-of-date food items on the shelves. Not just a day or two, but weeks out of date. That's beyond gross, it's potentially dangerous for the consumers who aren't careful about checking those dates. It could, possibly, lead to food poisoning or even death. 

The supermarket in question here is a store belonging to the chain Fiesta Mart, based in Houston. They have over 60 stores in Texas.  

The chain, reports Center Daily Times, "has been cited 13 times since 2015, according to an Aug. 15 news release from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration." 

“Despite painful and permanent injuries suffered by a half dozen of its employees since 2015, Fiesta Mart repeatedly ignores required safety standards,” OSHA Regional Administrator Eric S. Harbin said in the release. “The company now faces penalties of more than $1 million for their disregard of the law. Fiesta Mart must change the way it operates before more workers suffer serious injury.”

Given that apparent disregard for the safety of their own employees, it should not be surprising that Fiesta Mart shows no concern about their customers' safety by continuing to sell long-expired food items. 

In a blog post titled "Expired Food Too Common at Fiesta #39 in Houston," Tom Eats Houston (TEH) details a couple of times that food was left for sale on the shelves long past the time it should have been removed. Excerpts: 

Today [Jan. 11, 2023] I was in Fiesta Mart in Houston's Sharpstown neighborhood and found six cartons of liquid egg whites that expired weeks ago. 

This is their Store #39, at 8710 Bellaire, Houston, Texas. This store, in my opinion, is the worst supermarket in Houston and one of the worst I've seen anywhere in the United States. 

Five of the liquid egg cartons I found at Fiesta were marked "Use by 26 Dec 22," and one was marked "Use by 28 Nov 22" (six weeks and 2 days past safe usage). As with the expired sausages I found in August 2022 (see below), I took the expired cartons up front and left them with a clerk and when I asked for a manager I was told they were all in a meeting. I asked her to tell the managers that they're doing a lousy job of keeping expired food items off the shelves.

Over the past four years, I've come across numerous products at this Fiesta that are long past their "sell by" and "use by" dates. Do they want to be sued for food poisoning?

In the same post, TEH detailed a previous bad experience at the same Fiesta Mart in August 2022:

I found seven packages of sausages on August 30. Each had a "sell by" date of July 31. A month out of date. How did the staff miss this?

I've often found perishable items that are way past "sell by" dates at this store. Dairy, packaged meats, and other items. Do they not care? Are they lazy? Stupid? Do they put profit ahead of customer safety? I don't know. 

A couple of years ago, I found a packaged seafood item on a non-refrigerated display. The package clearly said, "Keep Refrigerated," and not just after opening. It was perishable. I pointed this out to a manager. His response shocked me. "Well, we don't refrigerate those in my country." Yes, well, ahem, we're not there.

You've been warned. Check those "sell by" dates, especially at Fiesta Mart #39 in Houston. It might keep you from getting sick – or maybe even from dying. 

If you're in Houston, you might rethink shopping at Fiesta Mart. Or, at the very least, carefully check expiration dates on the items you choose. That's good advice no matter where you buy your food.

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