Can You Legally Open a Bag and Eat Food Before Paying for It at Iowa Grocery Stores?
Grocery shopping can be an adventure and I wasn't sure if one thing I saw in Davenport was even legal to do.
For the record, I hate grocery shopping, especially during busy times of the day/week and I always seem to end up grocery shopping when I'm hungry.
So this week, when I did my grocery shopping, I went to the Target in Davenport and I saw someone that apparently had the same internal issue I had. They must have been pretty hungry. A person was walking around munching on what looked like a bag of trail mix.
Target has pretty good trail mixes so I can't really fault them for that. But I spent the rest of the shopping excursion wondering if that was technically a legal thing for them to do. Can you eat food you haven't actually bought yet in a grocery store?
What The Law Says
According to FindLaw, you can eat snacks in a grocery store but you better make sure to scan that bag or box when you go to checkout. If you don't do that, it's shoplifting, which looks really bad on you. It's just shopping in general- you're always obligated to actually pay for what you use.
You could still be called out on it in-store though. An employee might see you and that full, new jar of honey-roasted peanuts and find it suspicious. But FindLaw says that if no store employee, loss-prevention officer, or cashier calls you out on your unpaid-for snacking, you probably won't be prosecuted.
So can you get away with it? Probably. Is it best practice? No.