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Buying packaged food with a bite already taken out

Maybe I'm just an idiot and need to be more aware but this is the second time I bought packaged food with a bite taken out of it. Has this happened to anyone else??

The first time I bought ice cream sandwiches, rice dream ice cream to be exact. When I got home I realized the package was cleverly re-closed and upon re-opening the box there was one ice cream sandwich with a bite taken out of it!

The second time was yesterday. I bought a bunch of protein bars at Whole Foods. I grabbed 4 of the same kind and threw them in my basket. when I got home once again I noticed one of them was cleverly re-closed and there was a bite taken out of it!

What kind of people go to the grocery store and do this? I'm so grossed out! Is this some kind of cruel joke on me?

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  1. That would seriously upset me. No comment about the kind of people who would do such a thing, but you can guess what I might say.....
    Did you take the packages back? I must say, it has never happened to me, but then I rarely buy packaged ready-to-eat food .

    6 Replies
    1. re: Gio

      yes, i've taken both items back. i just don't understand why they don't just eat the whole thing. i suppose they take a bite to see if they like it but where did someone learn that from?

      1. re: trolley

        It sounds like something a malicious teenager would do, or a little kid.

        1. re: rockandroller1

          That's what I was thinking too. A "juvie" prank -- and a teenager wouldn't need to even be malicious to think this was funny....I probably would have thought this was outrageously funny when I was about 13 or 14....

          1. re: rockandroller1

            Huh, I instantly though it was an adult who was trying these "alternative" foods to see if they liked them without actually buying one. Not a lot of teenagers roaming Whole Foods in my area.

            People can be, at time, amazingly self-centered and selfish and self-entitled.....this is a perfect example of all of those. Hopefully the store took them back without question.

          2. re: trolley

            I once bought what appeared to be a brand new Food Saver vacuum sealing unit from Costco. When I got it home what was inside was a used several-models-old version of the same thing. Apparently a customer had bought a new one, replaced it with their old, tired unit, re-glued the box closed and returned it. The returns department said they had never seen a better re-sealing job.

            Not as gross as food that's been tasted, but shows you what some people will do.

            1. re: Midlife

              i had a similar experience with a blender at Bed Bath & Beyond...the box contained an earlier model, and it had clearly been used because they didn't do a very good job of washing it!

        2. I've never had it happen with food. But I have learned never to take the hand cream on the front of the shelf. Always take one from the back. The front one usually has been used. Why do people think this is okay??? I'm sure the same person wouldn't think of putting the whole package in their bag and stealing it.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Sooeygun

            I admit to opening lotions up and smelling them. Some smells give me migraines or asthma attacks so I need to know what I'm getting into. While I don't actually take lotion and put it on, some do smell different after being worn for a few minutes so I can see why people think it is okay, especially when many places offer testers and others don't.

            I can't say I've ever heard of food being resealed and replaced though- that's somewhat disturbing.

            1. re: Sooeygun

              they do it because there is no such thing as a sample in most places any more.

              You and me, we're going to take a gamble and buy the product, or just decide we don't want it that bad.

              Personally, I save a lot of money that way - I'll wait until 50-100 reviews are posted on makeupalley before I buy something. I still get plenty some duds and kick myself until I use it up.

            2. Truly disgusting. But I think I actually know someone who might do such a thing. So many years ago that I can't count them, I went grocery shopping with an acquaintance. On the condiment aisle, we saw something - maybe it was a jam of some kind - that intrigued her. She actually opened a jar and took a sniff to see if she'd like it, decided she didn't, and put the jar back on the shelf. When I said, "Somebody else is going to come along and buy that and it's supposed to be refrigerated after opening. They could put it on a shelf, not knowing, and then end up with spoiled - even dangerous - product when they go to use it!" she looked at me like I was being ridiculous and said something like, "Yeah, you were probably the hall monitor in grade school, hunh?" and walked down the aisle.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Deenso

                I think I know that person, too! Funny, though, neither one of us describes her as a friend.

              2. ?!?!?!?!???!!!!!
                crikey. that has to be a prank. i hope.

                i've never, ever encountered this. hopefully, i never will.

                two questions:

                1. were the ice cream sandwiches purchased at the same whole foods?
                2. do you live with anyone?

                4 Replies
                1. re: cimui

                  1. the ice cream sandwiches were purchased at the now defunct wild oats which was several months ago.

                  2. i live with my husband but he's definitely not the culprit since i found out about it while unpacking the groceries.

                  also, my "repackaged" food wasn't re-sealed shut like the repackaged non food items of goodhealthgourmet and midlifes. it was sort of finagled back together...

                  1. re: trolley

                    well there goes my more innocuous roommates / friend / SO prank theory.

                    a friend of mine who worked at k-mart in high school was telling me about fellow employees who'd open packages while unpacking shipments from the manufacturers and take out one or two bars (or boxes) of food for their lunch. (part of why K-mart went bankrupt a few years ago, no doubt.)

                    i don't think a customer would have time to reseal the box of ice cream sandwiches -- but the fact that your protein bar had only a single bite taken out of them and wasn't really repackaged makes me think it was a customer... hopefully a kid who honestly didn't know better.

                    were the teeth-marks made by big teeth or little teeth? ;)

                    (just kidding. i've made you answer enough questions.)

                    really hope this never happens to you again, trolley!!

                    1. re: cimui

                      An acquaintance worked at a grocery store as a teenager and said that the staff would sometimes take one bite out of a carton of ice cream - this was before they were sealed with plastic. I think they thought it was funny, a little bit of teenage rebellion.

                      1. re: julesrules

                        That's so weird - I once bought some ice cream that had one scoop taken out of it! I threw it out - and never returned to that store!

                2. That's as bad as seeing someone order a sandwich from the deli, getting a doughnut or cookie from the bakery and eating in the store and stashing the bag. Free lunch anyone? I think it's terrible.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jcattles

                    ugh, it happens all the time in grocery stores, and it's appalling. i always find opened packages of food on the shelves - people decide to help themselves to a snack, and then leave the remains. it's not really any different than the ones who walk around the store eating out of their salad bar or prepared foods containers before they pay for them. i caught my sister doing that once when i took her to WFM with me. i was mortified - and i told her that if she got busted for stealing/shoplifting i was NOT bailing her out :)

                  2. I've never heard of such a thing! I can't imagine the horror, or for that matter, the type of person that would do such a thing. Obviously they're just doing it to be obnoxious, because if you really wanted to eat it you wouldn't just take a bite.

                    1. Certainly far more wrong and disgusting than the grape/cherry/berry grazers, but maybe the same folks who can justify tasting whatever they want to taste from the produce aisle have moved on to the frozen treats section?

                      19 Replies
                      1. re: babette feasts

                        wow, you really put grape tasters and people who take bites out of protein bars and put them back in the same category?

                        i don't take bites out of apples, but i ALWAYS (if i have time) taste my grapes before i buy. at street vendors in nyc, i ask permission to do so and have never been turned down. maybe it's a regional / cultural difference.

                        1. re: cimui

                          Does one grape really taste that different from another grape? I don't eat a lot of grapes, but they seem to be one of the more consistent fruits. Are there subtleties that one can divine by tasting one or two grapes from a bunch?

                          I've seen people strolling around grazing, shoving their hands in their mouth then touching more food, clearly diregarding that other people may be buying it later. Of course stealing a few cherries costs the store less than ruining an ice cream bar that retails for $1, but what they have in common are the sense of entitlement and the total disregard for both the store and the other customers.

                          There are a lot of people who feel entitled to any little thing they want (and don't ask permission, isn't part of entitlement not having to ask?). Maybe it is a slipperier slope for some than we might imagine.

                          1. re: babette feasts

                            I think it's realistic to expect that produce has been handled prior to me purchasing it and who knows what people have had their hands in before that time. Let's face it, people at the grocery store aren't necessarily going to have clean hands- they may be dealing with children who have dirty hands, stop at the produce section last after getting food from the butcher, etc. I've definitely had some bad grapes and more so other types of berries, so I can see the urge to try them out before buying. I find blueberries to be especially pesky in this regard as I've gotten some that tasted roughly like dirt.

                            1. re: babette feasts

                              grapes taste very different to me depending on how ripe they are and you often can't tell on appearance alone how ripe a bunch of grapes is. i don't take multiple grapes from a bunch, since one can usually indicate whether or not the bunch is ripe.

                              i know the grapes have been handled -- and worse (to me), sprayed with all manner of nasty pesticides and dirt and mud. i wipe it off the best i can before tasting.

                              i've bought far too many bunches of awful, sour grapes to do otherwise.

                              1. re: babette feasts


                                Jfood always tastes a grape before buying the bunch and the idea that this is in any way similar to the OP is just silly. Sometimes the store buys an underripe batch, the ripeness of the season or the like.

                                Wrt people walking through the stores grazing, feel good that they are probably injesting more bad than contributing to others. Here they are, holding onto the shopping cart, a proven bed of germs and then eating themselves.

                                1. re: jfood

                                  agreed. stealing a grape from a bunch is not the same as taking a bite out of a grape and putting it back with the bunch. the latter is my experience.

                                  1. re: trolley

                                    The produce manager at jfood grocer is only too glad for people to be hapy with their choices and would absolutely not characterize this as "stealing" but pleasing the customer.

                                  2. re: jfood

                                    Jfood, are you like me, and keep a package of cleaning cloths and canvas bags in your trunk, so you can wipe off your cart, and carry your groceries, and still be able to wash the bags if they get a bit unsanitary? Or am I just weird like that?

                                    1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                      gryphonskeeper, some may think you weird, but you're not alone :) i sanitize my hands & cart at least 2 or 3 times during my shopping trip, and i have no fewer than 8 canvas shopping bags in the trunk of the car at any given time - i love that i can toss them into the wash when they get funky.

                                      i have to say, though, part of why i make sure my hands are clean while i'm shopping is that i do like to check out the samples when they're offering something i can eat...particularly at WFM. and i typically grab a pre-priced container of jicama sticks when i walk into the store [they're right at the entrance] and snack on a few of them while i'm trolling the aisles. i always wonder if others assume i'm "stealing" food when they see me munching, and i have to suppress the urge to explain to anyone who looks at me that the container is already priced and i have every intention of paying for it when i check out!

                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                        I sometimes buy a pre-priced package of fruit as well (sometimes from the reduced for quick sale rack because they are superripe) and will chomp on it while I am shopping, or let my kids eat it to keep them from asking for treats... but like you say, they are already priced, and I have full intention of paying for it at the check out.

                                    2. re: jfood

                                      I really am glad that all the hounds here ask first and know the limits of propriety. It appears that my terribly clever 'gateway drug' analogy was deleted. Do you think that the ice cream bar tasters start out on ice cream bars, or do they start out on small fruit and lose track of reality/propriety? How do you all think it actually happens? Is it just unbridled selfishness/entitlement unrelated to necessary tasting (as w/ those unpredictable grapes)? I agree that you all are basically right, any store wanting to give good customer service will happily allow a sample or two when asked. I've had many a sample at the cheese counter at WF, and I love that they give good customer service in that way.

                                      I am curious as to what would qualify as stealing - an ice cream bar, eating your salad bar items before it is weighed... but then how many grapes/cherries/figs/blueberries? Is it the value of the food that makes it stealing? The attitude? Everyone emphatically agrees that one grape is not stealing but a necessary precaution in buying them, and swears to never crossing the line. Where is the line for you? Can we define where exactly reasonable tasting crosses into too much or gross or stealing? I'm curious if we can agree on where exactly the line is.

                                      1. re: babette feasts

                                        I'll take a stab at this elusive line (and by the way, I enjoyed your gateway analogy).......

                                        In my experience, almost every question I have ever had about a particular produce item has been answered in part by an offer to sample the item in question. I'm a very black and white thinker, so if the produce guy is nearby, ask him for a grape before you help yourself. No biggie, I know, but I operate above board as much as possible. It just seems more polite, that's all. I think in my mind doing this creates a further ethical distance between the family who comes to camp-out in aisle 9 for lunch and me.

                                        1. re: babette feasts

                                          As jfood has stated in his feeling that eating in a restaurant is a two-way relationship, it is the same at a grocers. To show you how silly this entire "stealing" analogy is (BTW - jfood did respond to your Dahlmeresques post) how would you feel about pulling all the grapes off the vine so when weighed, you only pay for the grapes, not the vine, likewise with cherries and then bananas. What about the stems of mushrooms that you know are going to be cut off and thrown away? How many samples are OK at Costco? Now how about speed limits? Is 56 OK in 55 or does it start at 64? Then parking. You pull into a spot where someone left 10 minutes on the meter, not yours?

                                          Life is full of +/-'s and they sorta work out in the end.

                                          1. re: jfood

                                            Of course. All I meant to suggest originally was that maybe some people either a) don't know where to draw the line or b) just don't think the rules apply to them. Maybe for some it is a slipperier slope from a grape to an ice cream bar than it is for the rest of us. The original question was "What kind of people go to the grocery store and do this? ... Is this some kind of cruel joke ...?" I wonder if you asked the store if you could try an ice cream bar, if they would sample it out to you. There are so many other things it would be nice to try before buying, like oysters, pineapple, mangoes, but only the one-bite items seem feasible. Still, a good store is likely to do anything short of cook you up a prime rib to sample that they can reasonably do to keep good customers. Does the problem boil down to people don't know that it's OK to ask to try something, and that it would be for the greater good if they did ask? Or is it more insidious?

                                            1. re: babette feasts

                                              Let's face, these days stores really don't have the best staffing. If there is no one around whom to ask, you're more likely to take the grape because no one is going to see you. If you're in a well-staffed, higher end place, you're more likely to ask because chances are that there's someone within a few feet of you who can see you taking the product. It's the same with beauty products. If I go to Sephora or a department store, there are plenty of people to supervise people trying the tester items, but in a Target or supermarket, no one is around to make sure I am not being too liberal with what I'm taking.

                                  3. re: babette feasts

                                    HOLD ON ONE MINUTE.. I am a "grape tester" and I will eat one grape to see if they are bitter, or ripe. eating a 1 cent grape is not stealing! I have even asked the produce manager if I could taste a pea pod or a grape or whatever before buying a whole 4lb package, and he said "of course, not a problem at all" It is like asking the deli guy for a sliver of ham... to be sure its not too salty.

                                    It is not like I sit there in the produce department treating it like a salad buffet... sheeze.

                                    1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                      yes, exactly. and as a lifelong grape tester, it would never even occur to me to "move on to the frozen treats section". in my book, these are two veerrrrrrrrry different things.

                                      1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                        I think babettefeasts is referring to the people who make a mini-meal out of grapes and cherries, etc., not the person who eats *one* grape to see if the lot is sour or not (bf mentioned the "grazers"). And you even asked the produce manager, so I quite doubt that bf is referring to you.

                                        1. re: nofunlatte

                                          I have had people give me the "evil eye" when trying a grape before....yet those same people hover over the "free sample" demonstrators ....

                                    2. When I worked at Whole Foods in the early nineties, we had a problem with body builders buying protein supplements making returns. They'd empty out the protein powder, refill the container with flour or a mixture of flour and cocoa for the chocolate flavor, and return it for between $15-50, depending on the size container. It got to the point it was clearly being relayed within that community, because new scammers would try it several times a week. So lame...from working retail and now doing property management, some people have real nerve, and will try time and time again to get something for nothing.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: amyzan

                                        Not to squick anyone out, but several years ago a friend of mine had her first baby and was doing everything by the book. The book told her it was time to start trying solid foods.

                                        You know where this is going, right?

                                        She was standing in the supermarket aisle, reading various labels on jars of baby food when another mommy walked up, unscrewed a jar, stuck her finger in, licked her finger, said "ewwww", screwed the lid back on and stuck the jar back on the shelf. She did this several times, apparently not realizing that baby food didn't taste like adult food.

                                        My friend promptly took everyhting out of her cart, re-shelved it, and found the store manager to report the incident. He said they would need to remove everything and restock that section. Was this actually done? Who knows.

                                        My friend went to the baby store and bought a hand crank food mill and prepared her own baby food.

                                        1. re: juliasqueezer

                                          I never bought jarred baby food, because I knew they used the lowest quality of food for it. I bought a really good food processor, and everything we ate, the kids ate... did you know that babies really like rice with broccoli and cheese in a blender? who knew!

                                          1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                            I think baby food is pretty specific to the US. When one my friends with an infant moved to the UK, they were told to give him whatever they would eat (within reason, of course).

                                            1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                              I should have mentioned that my friend discovered this also when the food mill got tiresome. She and her husband reached a point where they just blended whatever they were cooking, before adding certain spices or seasoning. She also fed the baby a lot of yogurt and orzo. He turned out fine!

                                        2. i worked at whole foods for a bit in college...and i'm not sure if most people know this but you can ask an employee to open a package of anything in the store that you want to try and then they will leave it out for samples...so "trying out" alternative foods is not necessary, but then the person might not have known...and usually kids aren't flocking to the protein bars, if it were a chocolate bar that would be different

                                          1. At Whole Foods, I'm always suspicious of anyone strolling the aisles and chewing at the same time.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: beevod

                                              Why? They have almost as many free samples out as Costco! Cheeses, dips, etc.

                                              1. re: beevod

                                                I used to work for them, and this is a major point of training, that a customer who's eating as she/he shops is likely to spend more, make impulse buys, etc. It's one of the hallmarks of the company, that they feed their customers. I think the language in the mission statement is something along the lines of "we please and delight our customers..." They're talking about feeding shoppers, and creating a pleasant shopping experience. It supposedly makes us feel good about handing over all that money at check out!

                                                1. re: beevod

                                                  I have an ex-friend who routinely grabbed a big bag of chips and munched his way through the grocery shopping, occasionally "losing " the bag before checkout. As I said, he is now an ex-friend. I can't abide that kind of behavior, it's basically stealing.
                                                  I don't mind the grape testing, though.

                                                2. At least it was a human- the last item we bought that had been bitten into was a loaf of bread - the packaging had been gnawed through also. When the store offered to replace it we said we just wanted our money back. We only buy cans there now.

                                                  1. I just bought a box of 100 Calorie Right Bite Grasshopper cookies. There were supposed to be 6 pouches in the box but when i opened it there were only 2. The box was sealed and I had just bought it the day before. I immediately thought of this thread. I did email Keebler . The elf that packages the cookies must have been asleep at the wheel. :-)

                                                    1. Sadly, it happens. These are the same kind of people that used to do stuff at the Wal-Mart I worked at like opening a 12-pack of sodas. Not even drinking any of it, not a single drop, just ripping the pack open, and maybe leaving a can or two nearby. Nobody was able to drink any of it, as per regulations, the whole thing has to go to claims, wasted. I still to this day want to catch someone in the act of doing such a thing, so an example can be made of them.

                                                        1. re: beevod

                                                          Yea thats absolutely gross and incredibly rude. What's more is I don't get why they supposedly sample the product then shut the box up like it never happened?? Are they embarrased about what they are doing or is it a genuine case stealing? Almost as they are trying to be sneaky.

                                                          I admit certain stores like like Trader Joes allow and encourage sampling of products, since they are always bringing in new things and they even guarentee your satisfaction of their products.
                                                          And I sample things there, but when I neatly open a package, I don't close it back up and put it back on the shelf so it looks brand new. And maybe some unsuspecting customer buys what I opened.
                                                          I always leave it out in plain view, and whats more, perhaps others would like to sample as well...

                                                          1. re: Woof Woof Woof

                                                            it's been over a year since i posted this but since then i've become a really careful shopper and believe it or not i've come across this quite a lot. be careful with store prepared foods that are packaged in clam shell containers. for instance, there's this raw chocolate i love in the refrigerated section at WF. there's supposed to be 6-7 pieces to a container but one day i picked one out with 3 and noticed the broken seal. then there were other one's with only 4 and some with 2. all of them had broken seals. the thing about place like Whole Foods is that if you want to taste something they'll open it for you and give you a sample with pretty much anything. but i think it's beyond a person who just wants a taste and i'm seeing the work of a person with klepto tendencies or just mental illness. in any case, careful shopping!

                                                            1. re: trolley

                                                              It could be similar to what I've seen people do at Costco--they open the clamshell packages of grapes or cherries or whatever and pack in extra from another package. Only with your chocolate, the short-weighted packages are more obvious than a 4-lb package that's short a half-pound.

                                                              1. re: JKLew

                                                                I see that at one the grocery stores I shop at with strawberries. Especially when they are on special. People opening the clamshell container and stuffing as many as possible in from another container.

                                                            2. re: Woof Woof Woof

                                                              "And I sample things there, but when I neatly open a package, I don't close it back up and put it back on the shelf so it looks brand new. And maybe some unsuspecting customer buys what I opened.
                                                              I always leave it out in plain view, and whats more, perhaps others would like to sample as well..."
                                                              That sounds like a really bad idea, Woof. I was not aware the Trader Joe's allows sampling but opening packages on your own and then just leaving them open on the shelf is not smart. Your intention is to create a sample pack for other customers. Did TJ's invite you to do that? Best case scenario the TJ staff throw the whole thing out because you took one taste. That's wasteful and costly to everyone. Worst case, the staff just packs it back up not realizing why it was open and puts it back on the shelf minus your bite.
                                                              Unless I've misunderstood you, please leave the handling of sample packages up to the staff. I'm sure they'd be happy to assist.

                                                              1. re: Woof Woof Woof

                                                                Woof, i'm with taos on this one - that's a really bad idea. TJ's does have what is basically a no-risk policy to encourage their customers to try out items, but you're supposed to *purchase* the item first, and once you've tried it you're free to return it if you didn't like it. opening packages in the store and just leaving them there, no matter how neatly, isn't the way to do it. if anything, grab the item you want to sample, take it over to the customer service desk, and *ask* them if you can open and try it there.

                                                            3. There is a very popular online shopping site that sells mostly drugstore type stuff. I ordered from it a few times and repeatedly got products that were obviously used and/or re-packaged. Most notable: a Brita water pitcher that was still wet inside with charcoal particles in the filter top! And some shampoo with 1/4 of the contents missing. I returned both and have never purchased from this site again. I'm convinced this site makes money by repackaging products and selling used items.

                                                              Ever since them I've been meticulous in examining everything I buy in a store to make sure it's pristine, complete and brand new. I only buy online from companies with return policies that will give me money back and pay for shipping both ways.

                                                              1. I would venture to say it might be a late night stocker of the market in question. When I was just a lad, I had the good fortune to work in a market doing odd jobs. I know of one mischevious fellow that would go to the canned whipped cream late night and pop the top of each and breathe in the first bit of air from the canister without actually allowing the crream product to escape. As it turns out, these aerosol cans are charged with nitrous-oxide (laughing gas) and when inhaled they give you a mild rush. It was not uncommon for the guy to hit every canister in one night.

                                                                Interesting enough, N2O was first discovered in 1799 and was used recreationally at parties before it had any medical use.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: DallasDude

                                                                  yeah, "whip-its" were pretty popular in college ;) however, that young lad you knew essentially contaminated every can of whipped cream sold in the market. not so good.

                                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                    Pretty much. No social commentary, just letting the fears that many have about package products rest assured that they are not paranoid. Someone has indeed nibbled their cookie and huffed their creamy gas.

                                                                2. Am I living in la-la land since I've rarely (possibly even never, though I try never to say never) seen or even heard of this?

                                                                  At the same time, reading people's experiences brings out revulsion in me - people who would sample a packaged product and then leave it behind for another strike me as the same type of people who would keep their dirty, uncovered, kitty litter box in the kitchen. Gross.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: Cachetes

                                                                    I never understood the public kitty litter box either. Then again, I never understood people who put their toddler's potty seat in the living room so maybe I'm overly fastidious.

                                                                    Fortunately I don't think you can sample the whipped cream anymore. Don't the cans now have a cap with a non-replaceable seal?

                                                                  2. About 20 years ago, the Hostess Baking company (the folks that make Twinkies) made a cupcake product call Chomps. Each cupcake had a bite sized piece missing. There was a cartoon bear on the wrapper with the text, "I start them, you finish them." It was a gimmick for the kids I guess.