Baby Formula and Just About Everything Else to Move Behind the Counter at Grocery Store

Posted on June 6, 2005

Finding your grocery shopping to be a bit more burdensome than usual lately? Apparently, the powers that be have decided that baby formula is too dangerous to be left on the shelves, so it will be moved behind the counter. Apparently, some drug dealers might use powdered baby formula to cut drugs, so --voila!-- it has to be put out of their reach. This is from the same people that have infuriated allergy sufferers by moving the Sudafed behind the counter in some states, and in others limiting the amount you can buy or requiring shoppers to sign a register.

The high-priced item has long been an attractive target for shoplifters, who typically resell it on the black market at a reduced price or use it to cut drugs. Now, some supermarkets are fighting back, putting formula under lock and key just as they did with cigarettes many years ago.

"There is a point in time when you have to protect your assets," said Ted Seal, general manager of a Super Fresh store near Bethlehem that locked up its supply about a month ago because thieves had been stealing it by the caseload. Customers who want powdered formula now must ask a manager to unlock a case near the front.

At Albertsonís Inc., one of the nationís largest supermarket chains, with more than 2,500 stores in 37 states, stores often keep a very small quantity on shelves, with signs directing customers to the service counter if they want more.

"It has been a problem for a number of years. People steal baby formula, take it to another store and return it" for cash, said Albertsonís spokesman Walt Rubel.

What's next to move behind the counter and require a signature before purchase? Deadly eye drops (someone might drink them to get high)? Dog food (someone might shoplift it and return it to another store for cash)? Pantyhose (someone might buy them and use them to cover their faces as they rob a bank)? Maybe it's time we instituted a 3-day waiting period on all toiletries.