Hands up. How many times have you been in a store, well like a grocery store, and observed someone eating food or drinking a beverage that they pulled off the shelf before paying for that product?

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I have. More times that I can count. It's none of my business, so I wouldn't say anything to that person or store personnel, but I won't do that sort of thing. My opinion is to pay for the item first, and then do what you want with it. But maybe there is some sort of reason a person just has to have that food or drink item right away.

Now, I wasn't sure on the laws about this, especially in New York State. Is it illegal to consume food or beverage before paying for it? Well, yes and no. According to the FindLaw.com website, if the item is a fixed price, you eat some or all of it before paying, but do pay for it at the checkout, you should be fine, but that's not a guarantee. You may get some looks, and there may be some sort of store policy depending on the store.

Shopping cart with foods at the grocery store

But, if it's something that is prices by weight, like some produce, that could technically be considered stealing an item. Shoplifting anything in New York State that is under $1,000 could result in Petit larceny, which is a misdemeanor punishable by fines and up to a year in jail.  Visit the FindLaw.com website for a more detailed explanation.

One of my recent questions to the world of social media was "Have you ever eaten a food item in a grocery store before paying for it, and what was the food item you ate?" Not sure what responses I'd get, I was surprised of the amount I did receive. Should I not be surprised?

Here's a sampling of what people from the Southern Tier of New York and Northeast Pennsylvania had to say:

    • Angie M. - Some kind of drink, water, ice tea, pay for it when I check out
    • Maggie S. - When I was a little kid, my older sister would give me a box of animal crackers. I would eat them, and she'd put the box back on the shelf
    • Randy D. - I used to eat a Boston cream donut at Wegman's while doing our grocery shopping, but I always paid for it, that is until I was approached by an employee who told me that they aren't samples
    • Samantha B. - Yes, snickers!
    • Nora E. - I've drank water then paid for the now empty water bottle
    • Bonnie L. - I have a few times when I really needed a drink. I’ll put the empty bottle right up on the belt with the rest to pay for it
    • Sam M. - No, I wasn't raised that way. I will however grab a cold drink while shopping but I always pay for it
    • Garrett W. - Every grocery trip starts with a bag of deli bologna
    • Winnie B. - My daughter will put down almost an entire pint of raspberries before we get to check out. One time she slammed 3 applesauce pouches. She's only 2
    • Joann M. - Crackers. My sugar was super low so I just opened that package up...lol!
    • Nancy B. - One grape once
    • John S. - Mt Dew and a slice of salami
    • Wayne P. - Donut, but I always pay for it
    • Jen O. - Yes, candy from bulk candy
    • Maria J. - I have a couple of times. It’s usually a snack item that I eat while I shop but I always keep the packaging and pay for it before I leave
    • Barbara T. - Cherries
    • Marshall H. - Just single grapes to get a taste before buying.
    • Les S. - Grapes of course
    • Diane C. -Nope. Not washed and not mine
    • Shannon Q. - Green beans when they to be loose when I was kid
    • Vernon Z. - Animal crackers as a kid, Mom would have the cashier ring up the empty box
    • Matt S. - Drinks

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