Grocery Stores: Five Things You Need to Know

How trusting are you when it comes to the meat you buy at the grocery store? Ever wonder what horse, fox, mink, or even rat meat tastes like? Meat scandals are nothing new or even uncommon. A 2013 European scandal  involved horse meat being sold as beef. Horse meat is not exactly as disgusting as rat meat, but if you were thinking your hamburger once said “moo” verses “neigh,” it is understandable why people were so upset. Just be thankful you are not buying meat on the streets in China (or London for that matter); unless you are, in which case we apologize. Recently 904 members of a Chinese “meat” gang were arrested. This gang was passing fox, mink, and rat meat off as mutton meat. Mutton, as you may or may not know, does not exactly taste like prime-rib. Here’s a clue on how disgusting mutton is; people ate rat meat and thought it tasted like mutton.Mislabeling of meat and seafood does not only occur overseas, it happens in the United States at a surprisingly high rate. Keep a sharp eye, “buyer beware” is not just a term for used car lots.

What do you Consider Clean?
Chances are we have all eaten at a restaurant in our lifetimes. Most of us realize a restaurant is not our own kitchen; therefore, a disgruntled fast food worker may not care if your burger patty hits the ground before it hits your bun. Thankfully restaurants have posted health code rankings which you can consider before you dine there. Have you ever looked for your grocery stores health code ranking? If you have, you may have had to ask the manager for the results. Grocery stores are inspected, but they do not have to share the results with their customers. Think about that for a moment; “Taco Bell” probably only stocks 20 ingredients in its restaurants. A grocery store stocks thousands of items; everything from fried chicken to tampons, yet we generally don’t care about grocery store cleanliness. Grocery stores have it all in terms of health code violations, everything from rat infestations, moldy food on the shelves, to meats stored at unsafe temperatures. Lastly, don’t fool yourself on which grocery stores may have these types of violations. Even high end national grocery stores, you know the ones, are ripe with disgusting conditions.

Dangerous Carts
You have probably witnessed a homeless person pushing a grocery store cart down the road; if not in person, at least in a movie. Ever wonder what was in those carts? Probably clothes, supplies and everything else you can imagine EXCEPT food. That’s right, not even a homeless person is crazy enough to put food in a shopping cart. Think about it, have you ever seen a grocery store employee washing a cart? Nope, they just push them from the dirty parking lot right into the store. They don’t even bother to remove the trash inside half the time. Everything can be found on shopping carts, from feces and urine to E. coli. Yes, that’s right; you are putting your fresh, organic, locally grown kale on top of poop and E. coli. A whopping 50% of shopping carts are said to contain E. coli; that is more than found on the restroom floor of the grocery store. Yes, most grocery stores now have those wipes in order to wipe down your cart. Don’t kid yourself, wiping the handle is not going to eliminate the amount of grossness which is teaming on that cart. Enjoy that kale though.

How Old is That Pork-Chop?
Have you ever drunk milk a day or two past the expiration date? Did you feel like a straight gangster when you poured that expired milk over your Cinnamon Toast Crunch? Now, would you feel comfortable grilling a steak 5 days past its prime? Food waste, in America alone, account for billions of dollars lost each year. So stores, as you can imagine, may cut corners here and there to save a buck or two. In fact, there are entire stores which only sell expired food, passing the “savings” onto you. Those types of stores at least let you know what you are getting yourself into. Some stores just replace food labels of expired foods with not so expired labels. Disgusting you say? The practice is completely legal and pretty common. Buyer beware (have I said that already?).

Frankenstein Food
You have heard of reconditioned furniture, or perhaps reconditioned electronics, but food? So what happens to the food even supermarkets won’t sell, you ask? Well, a company will buy it and might turn it into something completely new. For instance ice cream which does not sell is often turned in to “chocolate” ice cream. That’s right, regardless if it was once orange sherbet, it will have new life as chocolate fudge. Ice cream, on the grand scale of things, is pretty harmless. It is the foods that were once moldy or insect infested you should worry about. Have some expired pork? Just throw a little bleach on it; that will make it look perkier. Some moldy apple sauceyou can’t get rid of? Just scoop out the really bad parts, perhaps hit it with some heat waves, and put it back on the shelves. Any food can be reconditioned. Let that soak in the next time you bite into a hotdog.

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