What is that old saying? "Never go grocery shopping when you are hungry!". The reason for that is because, if you are starved, you are more likely to buy more and make poor decision with the food you purchase. Heck, you might even start eating the food before you leave the store!

Is it legal in New York State to eat food in a grocery store, before you have paid for it?

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Recently I was shopping at Hannaford when I noticed a toddler eating a banana that his mother picked out of the produce section. A few aisles later I noticed a woman take a bag of chips off the shelf, open the bag and start eating. Is this legal or illegal in New York? I'll give you a hint, one could be considered stealing while the other might not.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, shoplifting is defined as "the crime of taking goods from a store without paying for them.".

Photo by Jeffery Erhunse on Unsplash
Photo by Jeffery Erhunse on Unsplash

According to Find Law, eating products in the store before paying is not necessarily shoplifting, as long as you pay for the item before leaving the store. There is a term called "shopkeeper's privilege" giving the individual store the right to detain an individual suspected of shoplifting. Generally speaking it is legal in New York to eat grocery items before paying for them.

In the examples I gave earlier, the toddler with the banana could be considered shoplifting because bananas, for example, are charged by weight. Once eaten, the customer couldn't say how much the item weighed.

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