You could be breaking the law while shopping without realising.

Ever decided to tuck into a snack that you intend on buying as a means of keeping you going whilst doing a big shop at the supermarket?

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one.

You may want to wait until you’ve left the shop next time though. 

According to Rachel Adamson, criminal law specialist, snacking while you shop is is against the law.

She told the Liverpool Echo: “While you might have the honest intention to pay for a chocolate bar that you’ve eaten while shopping in a supermarket, it is still technically illegal under section 6 of the Theft Act 1968.

Gazette: Snaking while you shop is illegal. Picture: PASnaking while you shop is illegal. Picture: PA

“Buying a product at the till is what transfers the ownership from the product belonging to the shopkeeper, to it belonging to you.

"And only when that sale is complete do you have the legal right to consume or use it.

"If you eat the chocolate before you legally own it, you are permanently depriving the owner of his right to the product – he can no longer refuse you the sale or take the item off the shelves.

“In another example, it would be like redecorating a house before you’ve exchanged contracts or spray painting a car while it’s still in the showroom. Even with the honest intention of buying the product, you shouldn’t alter or use something that isn’t yours.”

People on Twitter argued in-store snacking policy is basically "Survival 101" when shopping with young children.


Another tweeter compared eating before paying at the store to eating before paying at a restaurant.

They said: "I'll sometimes get something to eat or drink, while I'm walking thru the store. It's also always the first thing I buy as well. I have never not paid for anything opened by me or my children in the store.

"You go to a restaurant, order food, eat it, then pay for it, no different."

Others, however, deemed messy munching to be a "safety issue".

One wrote: "There is a safety issue as well. People tend to be sloppy & a piece of wrapper, damp food or liquid could easily cause someone to fall.

"Crumbs everywhere are never a good idea."

Some people, particularly those who claimed to be grocery store employees, supported the stance that eating before paying is, in fact, stealing.

One added: "As a manager at a grocery store, I view it as stealing if you eat something before paying for it. If you’re that hungry, pay for the item you wish to eat first and then continue shopping."

Gazette: Shopping has changed this year for many. Here, customers queue outside ASDA. Picture: PAShopping has changed this year for many. Here, customers queue outside ASDA. Picture: PA

Coronavirus supermarkets latest: some restrictions brought back to keep shelves well-stocked

With coronavirus cases on the rise, supermarkets have reassured customers that they’re well prepared for the "second wave’" 

Some have stocked up on extra flour in anticipation of a Bake Off-inspired baking surge.

Morrisons and Tesco have reinstated limits on some items as a precautionary measure.

Both supermarkets say stock levels are good, and that the limit has only been brought back to make sure it stays that way.

More broadly, we’re continuing to see new initiatives, such as virtual queuing apps at some Asda and Sainsbury’s stores.

The Co-op has expanded its robot delivery service in the Milton Keynes area, and Tesco will soon begin testing drone deliveries for small baskets of items in Ireland.

And in other respects, things have gone a bit more "back to normal" in recent weeks.

Sainsbury’s has reverted to bagless deliveries after temporarily delivering all shopping in plastic bags during lockdown to speed things up.

And Ocado reintroduced its bag recycling scheme on 22 September.