Stale Product

Stale product is our subject today and most all food items have an expiration date posted on the labels. Sometimes it is a julian date and sometimes it is a regular date.

There are many products that have such a long life on them that a vendor can be lulled into just assuming they are still in code. Keeping an eye on stales is a must, as most people can get rather upset over buying an item that is out of date.

It just may cost you an account if the wrong person buys or hears of the problem.

Shortest Coded Items

Cold food machines are the machines that have the shortest coded items in them. Sandwiches, salads, burritos, and meal entrees need to be checked every time you open the door.

The next shortest coded item is pastries. You will get about 10 days to 6 weeks to sell them. Pies are the shortest coded pasties I can think of at this moment.

Then come chips, crackers and cookies most of these products will have 6 to 12 weeks of life on them.

How To Dispose Of Stales

I know of no special way you are to dispose of stale product. Putting them in a dumpster is the common way. There are some companies that will take your food stales for a price and add them to a compost pile enabling you to say that you have gone green.

How To Keep Stales Under Control

If you are checking for stale product every time you open the door of your machines or each time a snack box is refilled you will rarely have this problem.

If you have employees it is something you will want to train them to do or you could have a huge headache. Remember the date is the manufacturers suggested date but to your customer it may be a rigid line in the sand they refuse to cross over. When you are checking dates remember to factor in the next time you will be servicing this account.

Handling A Customer That Bought A Stale Item

In my opinion there is only one way to handle a customer that has purchased an out of date or stale item. That is to give them their money back, apologize, and let them know you are going to be taking corrective action to see that it does not happen again.

What Is An Acceptable Stale Percentage

Most vending companies think that stales should not run over 2% of the gross sales of product. If you are a snack box operator that % will run a little higher.


I don’t believe it is ever worth it to leave a stale in any machine or snack box. You must factor in the next time you will service the account and remove product that will become stale before you return.

I would like you to think of stales like this. They are a part of our business, they need to be controlled and you will never eliminate all of them. Is it worth losing an account that is putting $20,000.00 per year into your yearly income?

That could be the consequence for leaving a stale item in one more day.

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