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Totally Disgusted at Supermarket--Am I too Finicky?

The store I patronize most is quite new and seems clean and in good condition. However, I was "grossed out" yesterday, because of two things.

First, the conveyor belt at the register I was in (only one open, btw, besides express because it was mid-day and the store wasn't busy) was (to me) filthy. I could tell it had some long stretches on which milk products had leaked. For whatever reason, it also had what looked like dust (I mean, a fairly thick layer) in other sections.

It really bothers me to any food on something like that, but especially things I don't cook--e.g., fruits, breads, dairy.

It took me a while to unload my cart because it was a major shopping. Unfortunately, I didn't notice because I was busy that the bagger put all my bags on the floor in the aisle where people walk. I don't know why, because there was room in the bagging area of the counter. I can't stand that. Maybe I'm too particular, but most grocery store floors just don't seem that clean to me, even in clean stores. You know, we have pets and while I consider myself to be a clean person, I'm not sure anybody would want foods they won't be cooking to be set down where I have walked, after I've walked where my animals walk (especially cats, who, after all, use a litter box). I thought about that and then multiplied it times probably hundreds of people walking in that aisle during the day.

You know what I mean, or would these things not bother you?

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    1. re: small h

      TY, small h; I'll go check it out.

    2. You feel the way you feel, but since you asked, I think you're being overly finicky. There's a bag between the food and the floor, right? And you're going to wash your fruits and veggies before you eat them, right? Because you know, they grow in dirt, and then are harvested and handled by people who are working in the dirt, and then packed and shipped in warehouses that are pretty dirty, and then sit in the back of a store which is not as clean as the front, and then touched by who knows how many people of what degrees of cleanliness while on display. I think that setting your bag of apples on a not-to-clean belt should be the least of your worries.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        LOL. You've got a point re the dirt, Ruth. Probably a case of the dirt I *do* see bothers me much more than the dirt I *can't* see.

        I feel a little reassured, now that you've explained to me that my chances of contagion probably didn't increase much over a baseline grocery shopping expedition. ;-) Thank you.

        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          That was pretty much exactly what I was thinking, said much more eloquently than I could have managed.

        2. ok, you did say "put all my bags on the floor...." so the bagger put your BAGGED groceries on the floor!? and I am assuming that all the items in the bag were at least in a container themselves(at least one....sometimes multiple layers, which is infuriating itself but a matter for a later date....) so I dont see the problem here!?

          and as far as the dirty conveyor goes, if it were really gross like you described I would have no problem asking them to clean it real quick. I am with you that that would give me the heebie jeebies as well.

          1 Reply
          1. re: nkeane

            Re the belt, n, I try always to be polite, but I don't have any problem with being assertive about requests like that. I honestly don't know why I didn't yesterday--why it didn't occur to me. Next time I'll ask and solve the problem before it is one. ;-) TY for your thoughts on both topics.

          2. I never, but never, indulge in the food samples hawked at Costco or other markets/stores. I just feel that too many people have stood over, coughed or whatever too close to the food. I love eating out so I guess it's what I don't know won't hurt me kind of a mind set...crazy, I know.

            8 Replies
            1. re: Gail

              Well, if I've got a problem with my food bags setting on the floor, you *know* I'm not going to think you're crazy over this, Gail, LOL. I think some not appetizing things can happen in the back of the house in restaurants, true, but the number of people your prepared food would be less in a restaurant, I would think, than in a grocery store sample situation.

              1. re: Gail

                People's ideas of what are filthy and disgusting have very little relationship to the actual health hazard involved. For example, I read about an experiment once when they asked people about whether they would eat soup that had been stirred with a flyswatter. They asked several different variables (dirty, used but thoroughly cleaned, etc.) and a significant number of people said they would not eat soup that had been stirred with a brand new flyswatter right out of the package. Just the *idea* that the implement used to stir the soup was a flyswatter made it unclean.

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  Very true! For my daughter's (big cat lover) 18th Bday, I made her one of those "litter box cakes"...you know, in a plastic litter box, crumb topping like cat litter, log shaped tootsie rolls with "tapered ends"....the server was a new pooper scooper. It got lots of laughs to be sure. We all ate it- but I admit- it was a bit difficult at first! LOL

                  1. re: sedimental

                    No offense, sedimental, but I think that would remain *too* difficult for me to eat through the end of the party, LOL. I was doing fine...thinking, okay, I could handle the pseudo-litter...all I'd have to do is keep reminding myself it's a crumb topping, it's mind over matter, which I'm actually pretty good at generally...but those tootsie rolls are dealbreakers!


                    1. re: Normandie

                      No offense. I actually didn't eat the tootsie rolls- but the teenagers did! It was a real hit with that crowd!

                      1. re: sedimental

                        Oh, no offense taken, sedimental, I assure you. You sound like a fun group with good senses of humor. I know I would have enjoyed the party and watching you all eat that cake. Emphasis, "you all". LOL

                  2. re: Ruth Lafler

                    Stirring your soup with a fly swatter will surely relieve you of your 'pot luck' obligations for years to come.

                2. I am honestly shocked that bagged groceries would be placed on the floor. Why? In the stores I frequent, the bagged groceries go straight from the moving belt to sacks to cart.
                  I would be more worried about them being stepped on or tripped over than contaminated. If this is the best this store can do with purchased groceries which you have paid for, go elsewhere.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: sueatmo

                    I'm sorry, sue. I thought I had it explained it clearly in my OP, but probably not. It took ME a long time to unload my cart, so it wasn't available to the bagger. However, as I noted, the bagging area of the register was clear, so I have no clue why the bagger didn't at least put them there until space ran out.

                    This has not happened to me before in this store. To be honest, this bagger didn't exactly seem like a jewel. Never seen her there before. When you live out in the semi-boonies, you don't often have a lot of choices, when it comes to supermarkets to patronize. There are a couple others, but, frankly, I wouldn't eat their produce or meats. What I was really trying to do in getting opinions was figure out whether this is worth a little friendly chat with the manager.

                    1. re: Normandie

                      "What I was really trying to do in getting opinions was figure out whether this is worth a little friendly chat with the manager"

                      Always!! ---- While your concerns my seem petty to some they are not to you....By all means have a "friendly chat" with the Store Manager...not one of his/her subordinates. The issues you describe should not happen in a well run retail grocery store...

                  2. They're not supposed to put your groceries on the floor! If a bagger did that to my stuff I'd be POed too. And they're supposed to clean the belt off if it's icky - that's why they have spray bottles of disinfectant and paper towels by the register. At least they do in reputable supermarkets, like Publix!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Kajikit

                      Oh, this is a reputable chain. People in my area of the country would know it (but I'm not posting it.)

                    2. Is a cart really that much cleaner than the ground? I really have no idea how often they clean them, but sometimes they're out in all manners of weather. Then you have people placing meat, potting soil, plants, toxic cleaners, and who knows what else in there. Unless you use the wipes provided to wipe down the entire cart, I don't think the floor is going to be that much dirtier.

                      26 Replies
                      1. re: queencru

                        Not to mention dirty diapers in the small front seat and small children (finger up nose) in the grocery part of the cart. The floor might be cleaner.

                        1. re: nvcook

                          >>>Not to mention dirty diapers in the small front seat <<<

                          OMG, yes, I never miss thinking about that as I drop my purse in there, but no groceries go there. I confess to being a germ freak, constant hand washer.
                          To Ruth, the power of suggestion (soup/flyswatter) is just that, powerful to most. It overcomes our reasoning ability sometimes, strange.

                          1. re: Gail

                            After I realized I was putting my purse in an area often used for diapered baby bottoms, I started putting my purse on the bottom of the cart. The added benefit is that if anyone tries to grab my purse or wallet, it's going to be a lot more obvious what they're doing.

                              1. re: Gail

                                I never, ever use the diaper seat in the front of grocery shopping carts for anything.Not for a purse, not for canned good, not, dear god, for produce, meat or poultry. It stays folded up. It has to be one of the most unsanitary places in all of the shopping kingdom.

                                It still astounds me to see people who fuss over hand sanitizer, flu shots, and the like and then dump their groceries in the diaper seat.

                                But then again, these are probably the same people who sit their own rear end, and their children's rear ends on their kitchen counters, or even put their purses on their kitchen counters. You know, the same purses that a few hours earlier were on the floor of a public restroom.

                                Most people give no thought to the hypocrisy of their own personal hygiene.

                                1. re: taos

                                  That's where I put all my produce.... (yes, it's in plastic bags)
                                  By your standards I am a Hygiene Luddite.

                                  1. re: Scargod

                                    Ya know, cupcake, the "hygiene" controversy never changes and seemingly never changes anyone. I'm with you; anything crushable goes there. I'm not sure how I've lived this long; must be the "magic house" effect which seems to travel quite well.

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      Me too, c oliver. Until this thread! Now I'm a little freaked out by the diaper seat but admit that it never crossed my mind before. Maybe a couple of produce bags laid out on the seat would provide me with enough peace of mind to allow the bread and peaches to reclaim their rightful place in the cart. Or perhaps I'll just get past it and go back to my life-long habits. Too soon to tell. :)
                                      And yes, I live in a magic house, too. So true, that.

                                      1. re: c oliver

                                        hey me too! why would I put produce (first stop in the store) on the *bottom* of the cart where it's going to get smushed? Lord, those "diaper bottoms" have clothes on them don't they? And my produce is in a bag!

                                      2. re: Scargod

                                        I didn't say people who put food, especially produce in the diaper seats are hygiene luddites. I'm not sure what being a luddite has to do with it (def.: eschewing or being opposed to technological change).

                                        I did say that I wouldn't do it. That's my choice. And that I find it silly for people to get all finicky about hand sanitizers, disinfectant wipes, etc. and then do things like store their food in the diaper seat or put a filthy purse on a kitchen counter.

                                        1. re: Scargod

                                          As am I, Scargod.

                                          It's too easy to get grossed out via imagination, while the real filth is something you never could have even dreamed up. Let it go.

                                        2. re: taos

                                          jfood places the meats on the seat since he knows they will be cooked and this keeps the meats away from the produce in the main part of the cart.

                                          Jfood converted his garage to a giant autoclave so he has the magic house thing covered as well.

                                          1. re: jfood

                                            Thus you can "steam" your cars, tools or anything and make them germ-free and safe! Brilliant!

                                            1. re: Scargod

                                              absolutely, gotta have a sanitary shovel.

                                            2. re: jfood

                                              Almost blew the cocktail out of my nose over that one!

                                            3. re: taos

                                              Oddly enough there are (on average) higher levels of bacteria on a kitchen counter than a toilet seat. If you wipe a relatively clean (clothed) child's backside across the counter you will almost certainly have less bacteria on the counter afterwards.

                                              Incidentally, the bottom of handbags have extremely high bacteria counts. They are put in all sorts of places collecting bacteria as they go. They don't get washed. They are put on bathroom floors, sidewalks, floor of the car etc. A babies freshly washed, diapered and clothed bottom is a lot safer to have in contact with your food than your handbag.

                                              I even used to kiss my kids' bottom's after the bath. Haven't done that for twenty years.

                                              1. re: Paulustrious

                                                please add computer keyboard to the list.

                                                1. re: jfood

                                                  And remote controls, esp. in hotels.

                                                    1. re: jfood

                                                      It's only relevant if you have the courage to get past the doorknob.

                                                      1. re: Paulustrious

                                                        Everything is made clean with soap because soap is magical. Store counters and floors, even grocery carts too Hotel rooms also and even if not, once you all return home you can take a shower. If you don't believe soap is magical, then don't let it bother you or you will go nuts.

                                                        Jay Mohr, Soap

                                      3. re: nvcook

                                        OMG, nv! Ewwwwww! Seeee....I have stepchildren, who were teens when I came to live with them and their father. I never had babies, so I don't think about those things. Aaaaaaagggghhhhhhh.

                                        (****And I know some people who never had babies would still think about this very reasonable caution. I'm just saying it's why *I* never have.)

                                        This is why I post these things. So you all can teach me. Before I infect myself and my entire family with heaven knows what.

                                        1. re: Normandie

                                          I prefer to think of it as maintaining a healthy immune system. I've made it this far without dying of some odd illness and don't feel like the dangers out there are extreme. I am not a germaphobe though.

                                          1. re: queencru

                                            I think that is a healthy attitude to maintain, queencru, and, believe me, if you saw my house, with our bouncy, messy animals, you would know that I am not a germaphobe, either. However, I take reasonable cautions where our food and food prep, service and storage are concerned, and as a result, I can't think of a single time anybody in my family has suffered one of those pesky little foodborne gastrointestinal thingies.

                                            On the other hand, my best friend spent six weeks in intensive care and now has a lifelong immunological impairment due to food contamination that was not of her doing, so I do think it pays to be mindful.

                                            1. re: Normandie

                                              The groceries on the floor is just weird. Id have stopped the sacker immediately, although I am sure you were fully occupied with uloading the buggy. The cashier is responsible for keeping that conveyor belt clean, and probably has a spray bottle of something and some paper towels for doing this, If it bothered you that much you probably should have said something before putting down any food. If this is a chain supermarket and they have a website, make your opinion known there. I have found that with certain stores in my area, they are very responsive to this.

                                              1. re: Normandie

                                                OK. I guess I understand now. You couldn't get your groceries out of the cart fast enough, and the rung up stuff was piling up at the other end of the conveyor. I still think grocery bags should not be placed on the floor of the market at any time. I still think they could be bumped or tripped over by unsuspecting people. Who would expect them to be there?

                                                Yes, talk to the manager. He/she probably would want to know that this practice has been hotly debated in a food forum!

                                                On the grocery carts, I have never worried about this sort of thing. Extremely hot or cold weather should make short work of at least some organisms. I have many time put my purse in the seat area of the cart. I haven't gotten deathly ill at any time in my adult life, and I'm pretty old. I wouldn't worry about this unless you or yours has an immune issue. You might not want to put food there; I understand that.

                                      4. It's disgusting but so are the following items that jfood tries to avoid in the grocers

                                        - bagger placing meat/poultry on top of produce
                                        - anything but meat/poultry in the seat; never co-mingle in the main section of the cart
                                        - deli personnel creatching t heir head as they serve jfood
                                        - samples where you take your own. Everyone's hands have been there

                                        Lots of positives for another thread

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: jfood

                                          "deli personnel creatching t heir head "

                                          I once saw a produce man do this as he was stacking apples. Then, I kid you not, he stuck his finger in his ear to give it a good scratch as well. That was enough for me - wrote a letter to the chain and I frequent another market (this particular store had many issues).

                                        2. I, too, would cringe if the bagger set the bags on the floor. That's the place with the highest numbers of enteric bacteria (assuming the store has bathrooms available for everyone to use). The problem is that you then take the bags and place them on your kitchen counter to unload them . . . yuck:-(

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: vday

                                            that's what i was thinking too -- the bags then going on the countertop .. ugh.

                                            1. re: ette

                                              my bags stay on the floor at home-- problem solved! I have those plasticy reusable ones which get kind of grungy floating around my trunk, so they aren't going on my counter.

                                          2. Reminds me of the anecdote about the grocer who suggests to a customer "How about some pickled tongue?"

                                            The customer answered "Oh, I could never eat anything that had been in an animal's mouth. I'll just take a dozen eggs.".

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: ekammin

                                              Yes, precisely! When I was a child I asked Dad, "How far away is the end of the universe?" Dad advised me, "Don't let it bother you. If you keep thinking about things like that it will drive you crazy." Same here, the bagger put the bags on the dirty floor after the checker touched every item to scan it with the same unclean hands which just handled the filthy cash from the prior customer who likely coughed into thier hands. The conveyor belt was dirty because the food items from all the carts in the store was laid there after being in the the grocery carts which were just returned to the store after being picked-up by the cart retrivel service who located them outside of other places around town including the laundromat (after transporting soiled laundry from the home of prior store customer who stole the cart from the stroe), or maybe the Recycling Center (after transporting all those drippy beer and soda cans collected from the garbage cans around town). I once saw a guy with a grocery cart full of car battires standing in line at a Recycling Center.Beat that and you will prove there is no end to the filthy food universe, but don't let it bother you. Life is a state of mind.

                                            2. Much ado about nothing. Consider that all food comes in cases, moved on dirty conveyors, in trucks, then on the floor and on shelves before you ever touch them. Then they are individually handled as they are stocked and then possibly handled by people who don't buy them, who have had their fingers....where? Some get coughed on, I'm sure!
                                              Produce in semi-open, slotted crates, stacked on top of each other and also they've been on who knows how many dirty surfaces and exposed to what kind of fumes and dust?
                                              Are you going to stop grocery shopping now? I daresay that floors get swept, vacuumed or mopped daily.

                                              15 Replies
                                              1. re: Scargod

                                                <<Are you going to stop grocery shopping now?>>

                                                I'm not sure what that added to the discussion.

                                                I came to ask a serious question. I asked it specifically because I wasn't sure whether what concerned me was a sanitation issue or not. I was quite clear about that, too.

                                                I see posters on the CH boards regularly who are new and who apologize for asking what they are afraid are "dumb questions". The great thing about this place is that so many people will step right up and tell the new and less experienced posters not to worry, that no question is dumb. And then they try to answer the question as best and as helpfully as they can. Thankfully, I know that will continue to be the norm on these boards.

                                                1. re: Normandie

                                                  By all means talk to the manager. I frequently see cashiers stop, spray and clean the belts and counter space. They should do that if it gets nasty.

                                                  You asked the "serious question". I am answering your question with the "big picture" of what we all face everyday, whenever we go to a grocery store. I feel you are making a big to do about commonplace conditions and a normal store environment. Most food is in containers or bags and then put in other bags. How are your groceries going to get more contaminated? If you think about every "what if" then you might not go outside; never mind going to the store or a restaurant.

                                                  1. re: Scargod

                                                    I appreciate your talking to me and letting me explain my viewpoint to you.

                                                    I don't see that it is making a "big to do" to ask people's opinion about two practices at a store. I have re-read my original post and don't think it was hysterical or neurotic in any way.

                                                    I have had occasion to speak to the store manager before and found him to be very responsive. However, I don't care to complain about things that aren't really issues; over the long-term, that's counterproductive and, besides, it's not fair to complain needlessly about any establishment's employees. Hence, I wanted to get some other people's perspectives, and I see there is a mix of reaction here.

                                                    One of the things that I find is common, at least in food stores in my area, is that one will often see teenagers working the registers and bagging, as part-time jobs. That was the case in this situation. Through no fault of their own, some teens would not have the experience yet either with cooking or food handling to be knowledgable about food safety practices, unless their employers train them.

                                                    After listening to you and others, I believe the lack of cleanliness on the belt was a simple situation in which the cashier hadn't been told to keep the belt clean. I'm basing this on the fact that she was professional and helpful in all other ways. So your advice that I might mention that to the manager was helpful. Thank you.

                                                    1. re: Normandie

                                                      As a guy, I am always getting into things and often have dirt under my nails from gardening. Cleanliness is not a constant preoccupation.
                                                      I do all the grocery shopping. I have occasionally thought about the cart handle. I occasionally eat while I shop. Bad habit from the cleanliness standpoint. One good habit I have when in stores is trying not to touch anything when I go to the john. I have too much respect for my unit. I push the door open with my elbow and if I must, after I have washed my hands, I use my pinkie to pull on the handle to get out. It seems kind of silly now, when I think of it. I go right back out and grab the cart handle... Dammit! Now I'm thinking about hand sanitizer. I may have to get a purse.

                                                      1. re: Scargod

                                                        LOL, Scargod. It turns out we have something in common, after all. Not that I'd ever go to the bathroom at the grocery store (ewwwwwwwwwww!), but when I use one at a restaurant, I approach it much in the same gingerly fashion that you do. Out of different motivations, of course. I don't have a unit to respect. If a unit is what I think it is. (No, no, that's okay. No need to explain. I'll just ask hubby.)

                                                        Here's a little womanly tip for you. Go to the travel-sized bins, perhaps at the grocery store or definitely at your local CVS. You can find a little bottle of sanitizer that will go right in your back pocket. Now you can save the purse money for those nice ostrich pumps you've been eyeing. A point in my supermarket's favor is that it has hand-sanitizer dispensers all around the store for patrons to use. So that's one thing I don't have to bark at the manager about...although...I wonder when they last cleaned the dispensers... :-p

                                                        1. re: Normandie

                                                          "Not that I'd ever go to the bathroom at the grocery store (ewwwwwwwwwww!), "

                                                          I don't ever *plan* on using the bathroom at the grocery store, but sometimes "life" happens and well, when you gotta go.... I live less than 5 minutes away (an easy walk) and still, time is of the essence in those situations. And if you've ever had a young child that has to go "right now!" then yes, it's a good thing the grocery store has a bathroom right there. But also consider the employees who work in the store. Do you think they are grossed out by the bathroom and won't use it? Or are their standards lower? I'm pretty sure they would revolt if it were not clean (and any time I had to use it, it always was). I'm sure with very small, mom & pop stores it may not be, but my local supermarket (Safeway, in CA) is well run and clean.

                                                          1. re: Normandie

                                                            As I recall, females are not required to handle their units in order to pee. Even if you wear shorts and go commando it is difficult for men to do hands-free. There's the shake that's involved. Ask hubby...

                                                            1. re: Scargod

                                                              In the days of real men, the only ones who washed their hands before they peed were cropdusters. Now we're all mini Howard Hughes, without the $6B. At least pick a purse that's masculine looking, maybe a tartan plaid...:)

                                                              1. re: Veggo

                                                                Now don't you go telling me what kind of purse I should pack.

                                                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                  I think the handbag of choice for gay cowboys was saddlebags.

                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                    Disagree, c, I think a fringed shoulder bag is called for here.

                                                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                                                      Ooh, with a few tasteful rhinestones perhaps?

                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                        Rhinestones are always appropriate for gay caballeros.

                                                                        1. re: pikawicca

                                                                          Now all he to do is come out to his 87 ex-wives.

                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                            (I think they might suspect, but I'm keeping mum.)

                                                2. I admit the belt thing bothers me from time to time, not necessarily for germs, but I don't eat meat, and therefore don't like putting my groceries on a belt that had meat juices on there. What goes on in the backrooms, well, what the eyes don't see, the heart don't feel , lol.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: im_nomad

                                                    LOL re the back rooms. Too true.

                                                    I have been in stores in which, for whatever reason, some of the meat packaging leaks. I can fully understand why this would bother you, as a vegetarian, and that is also a safety issue in terms of cross-contamination. Fortunately, that's a problem I don't notice at this store.

                                                  2. The other day I bought some limes. I didn't put them in a bag, so I carried them loose in one of those hand basket things. Then I dropped one on the floor at the checkout. Ah well. This is the other extreme, perhaps. ;-) I make sure I wash them thoroughly before juicing, just for the heck of it. I haven't used the zest off any of these and don't plan to.

                                                    I would say the grossest thing you will find in the grocery store on a regular basis is actually what you can't see, the germs on your shopping cart handle that transmit right to your hands, that sort of thing. Bring the hand sanitizer. I think more dangerous stuff will transmit that way than brief contacts of packaged items with the floor or dirty cart/hand basket. I mean, how much cleaner are those things vs the floor? Not much, if any. I've seen them use standard carts to load up what appeared to be bags of trash. (To be fair, they may have been bags of grocery bags for recycling, dunno.) I don't know if they designate carts for that task, but there were no obvious ways to tell them apart. They do get cleaned I think but I don't think thoroughly or frequently, more like spray 'em with a hose.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: CrazyOne

                                                      At our grocery store they have a large dispenser of antibacterial wipes beside the baskets. The handle of the basket is the part that worries me, so it gets a good wipe before going in the store.

                                                    2. I've never had a bagger place my bags on the floor. They go get an empty cart. Always. I'd mention it to the manager or the checker at the very least, who quite often are either asst. or the manager themselves.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: ITry

                                                        And how many times have you seen parents hauling their children around inside those carts??? I think one CAN get carried away worrying about germs and, as others have said, should probably never leave their homes.

                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                          Never leave home without your prophylactics. Gloves, plastic wrap, mask, duct tape and raincoat. Germicides: the new craze to supersede bottled water.

                                                          1. re: Scargod

                                                            As a matter of fact jfood does keep hand sanitizers in his car and briefcase. And he always uses the dispenser at his grocer before he takes the cart to wipe down the handle.

                                                      2. I wouldn't like my grocery bags to be on the store. I mean, I set those bags on the kitchen counters and table! Haven't thought before about how gross that is anyway, even the cart can be filthy, as has been pointed out.

                                                        I do not think you are being overly finicky. That's too dirty.

                                                        1. Well, you are more finicky than I am but I do think that most responsible cashiers clean off the belt periodically. If you noticed it was dirty, it was probably way past time to clean.

                                                          Setting filled bags on the floor is just dumb. It would have been less work in the long run for the bagger to get another cart as compared to putting each bag down, then lifting it up again. I guess I never really thought about bags sitting on the floor before; because I've been too lazy to replace the battery in my car key, I often put bags down on the parking lot surface as I unlock the trunk.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: tcamp

                                                            I haven't told you all the punchline yet. When I finally got the cart emptied and push it up the bagger, there were probably about ten bags already packed and on the floor. The bagger stepped back, spread her arms to gesture to them and told me, "Be my guest!" Not jokingly, either.

                                                            Now...I'm not a lazy person. Most often, I go through the self-service lanes, check myself out, bag and load my own groceries. I'm not sure it's faster, but it means I'm not waiting in a line, doing nothing, and I just find it easier to do something than wait and do nothing. When I choose not to check myself out, but go through a register with a cashier and a bagger, it's generally because I don't feel too well that day and need a little help. Really. So, not only was I irked that my food was on the floor, but now I was trying to figure out how in the world I was going to lift all those bags (which are always packed to heavily for me, anyway) from the floor up into the cart. Just one of those not so good days, physically, you know? But the shopping had to be done. I sincerely wasn't sure I could lift all those bags from the floor. LOL, I think I stood there with my mouth open for about 30 seconds and then I must have looked at the cashier imploringly, because she snapped at the bagger, "Put those in the cart!" (At which point the cashier became my hero, and that may be another reason I didn't want to complain to the manager about the belt. I really don't know.)

                                                            1. re: Normandie

                                                              Our town is kind of remote (nearest Walmart is 35 miles away) and has 2 grocery stores: a mom&pop and a Food Lion. Both have hand sanitizers at the cart corral but the mom&pop had them first. The mom&pop cashiers do a quick belt wipe between orders when possible. I've never seen Food Lion cashiers wipe the belt, but they must the belts aren't icky. The mom&pop baggers not only bag carefully and load the cart, they insist on pushing the cart to your vehicle and loading the bags in for you. Doesn't matter if you're 23 or 83, that's their job and they do it cheerfully. At Food Lion you're lucky if you get a hello. Plus, and this is the deal maker for me, the mom&pop sells as much local made and grown as they can. Far as I can tell Food lion doesn't even try.

                                                              1. re: morwen

                                                                We have a local chain, Roth's that always takes the carts to the vehicles for you (except for when my ex told them that I'd do it). Not only is it great customer service, but it saves on stolen and runaway carts, and cart retrieval from all over the parking lot.

                                                          2. At the store where I regularly shop, as I unload my items onto the belt, the bagger packs the items & places the bags in a different cart. That way he/she starts bagging & packing while I am unloading and the cashier is scanning the items. It makes for a smooth transition, as the cart is fully loaded when I am done. Then I take the full cart, and the bagger uses my cart for the next person in line. Easy enough.

                                                            The ONLY hesitation I have with this, is that I always use the antibiotic wipes for the cart handle as I enter the store. Once I switch to the cart of bagged items, it is a different cart with "unknown" handle status :-) I suppose I could use one of the wipes at the checkout , but I haven't done it yet.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: elfcook

                                                              I think many stores now have travel packs of wipes- you could always bring that along with you to wipe if there aren't any nearby.

                                                            2. I feel bad for the OP. It's not being finicky if the OP is grossed out by what happened. It's all about how comfortable one feels in a certain situation. The OP was uncomfortable and shouldn't be if spending money at a market. I'm not as finicky as the OP about cleanliness, I'm sure, but just the same I don't want to place my cantaloupe in somebody else's sour, leaky milk from Lord knows how long ago... And I second the opinion that grocery bags on the floor is a zero-tolerance no-no.

                                                              We're very lucky in that our local supermarket is, like, #1 or #2 in it's chain -- on a number of different aspects: cleanliness, profitability, variety of items, innovation. The check-outs are absolutely spotless. The aisles are spotless. The OP would be more than happy to shop there.

                                                              We've lived in a number of different places and have had to deal with towns where there were three supermarkets, and all three were stinking filth-holes. On the other hand, there was a very humble inner-city C-Town market we patronized when we lived in Brooklyn, NY that was incredibly clean! Go figure.

                                                              Dirty supermarkets are the result of a "trickle-down" effect from store managers who aren't passionate about what they do, at best, or who're just plain lazy, at worst. All the complaining in the world isn't going to change the day-to-day cleanliness of a store, so long as the manager's numbers are okay on the Board of Health inspections. I have a friend who shops at an upscale specialty market because he's fed up with the surly help and filthy aisles in his local supermarkets. Perhaps the OP would be more comfortable patronizing another market, if one's convenient.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: shaogo

                                                                TY, shaogo. You're very kind, but I'm all right with all the responses. Really. I posted the question because I wanted to hear all of your honest opinions, including the ones that might not agree with me. As I said, I was undecided about speaking to the store manager about it, if it these things were *my* issues. I do think employees should be corrected, but you never know what's going on or what the store's response would be with the employee. It's one to correct them, and if they're doing something wrong, they ought to be corrected. But I wouldn't want an employee to have a complaint against them if it's a petty issue. So I thought I'd take a survey :-), and I do appreciate that CHers, first, are pretty smart people, and, second, give their frank opinions.

                                                                This store is generally very clean. If I didn't note it above, it's only a couple of years old, and it's in good condition and well kept. It's a vast improvement over the market I used to have to use, before this was built. That store was dirty and had a real recidivist problem with expired foods, including dairy products. There isn't a lot of competition around here out here in the boonies, so it was a great help to have a new store. Overall, it's a good place, and I do suspect that the visit I described in my OP was a matter of employees who hadn't been instructed properly. Other than that, I'm very happy with the customer service and responsiveness at this store.

                                                                Thank you again, shaogo.

                                                                1. re: Normandie

                                                                  You're welcome. I wasn't pussy-footing with you... I was being honest.

                                                                  I, personally, am willing to shop in a filthy store, even if I might have options. It's because I'm used to having *no alternative* to a filthy store.

                                                                  I do have a particular hang-up, however. When buying milk, cream, cottage cheese, sour cream, etc., I *totally* gross-out when there's crusted, dried-up, cheesy or even dried-up-milk-looking stuff on the containers. I'll dig around all over the shelf until I get a clean one. You can tell, with the frequency of dairy dept. spillage, what a horrible time I have when I go to buy dairy!

                                                              2. I don't think you're over reacting at all. I'd say something to the mgr. This bagger needs to know the protocol of bagging groceries! Leaving them for you to pick up off of the floor is not cool at all.

                                                                I rinse off milk cartons & juice cartons before putting them in my fridge.
                                                                Keeps the fridge cleaner as well.
                                                                Yes, I wipe off the handle of the cart.

                                                                Many of you might not notice the gross things people do in the grocery store while shopping. I'm a detective & scientist at heart & I just see these things, I'm not looking for them.

                                                                Hopefully your talk with the store mgr will raise awareness!

                                                                1. A lot of people have mentioned carrying and/or using hand sanitizers and wipes. It is ironic that many of the same people probably seek and buy organic produce. But it is the very same "sanitize and kill all bugs" mentality that leads to overuse of pesticides.

                                                                  1. c, I think you're probably right about most infectious diseases, which are transferred by contact of some sort.

                                                                    Different story altogether with the bacterial problems (e.g., salmonella, E. Coli, listeria, so forth) or even some of the milder, garden variety intestinal upsets (the thing our parents erroneously called "the stomach flu") resulting from cross-contamination.

                                                                    Salmonella can live in a dry environment, including on surfaces, for weeks. So...if a family has a terrarium for its kids, and they don't know that turtles carry Salmonella and they don't wash up *long enough* with *hot* water AND *soap*, or if I don't wash my hands after petting my dogs, and then turtle family or I use a cart in the grocery store....the bacteria will be transferred.

                                                                    1. Once, while waiting in line at the self-checkout at a large national chain grocer, I noticed that the woman using the self checkout in front of me had a small dog tucked under her arm. This made digging in her purse difficult, so she took the dog and set him down on top of the counter, where you scan your item/weigh produce. I waited for the employee overseeing the self-checkout area to say something, perhaps along the lines of "Excuse me, but you can't put your dog there. In fact, you can't bring him into the store, only service animals are allowed." But her actions went unnoticed, or at least unremarked upon.

                                                                      That incident was a bit over the line for me, in terms of gall of the customer.

                                                                      9 Replies
                                                                      1. re: lotuseedpaste

                                                                        I could go on a lot about that, having lived in a neighbourhood, where stores had to have a sign in the door saying, please leave your pets outside in order to keep people from bringing their dogs in. Until I lived there, I always figured leaving the dog outside (or preferably, leaving it at home, if you need to shop or eat) would be the default. I would see 'no dogs' sign in a coffee shop or restaurant window and wonder who the heck would think bringing their dog in was okay.

                                                                        1. re: Sooeygun

                                                                          All the people in France and other European countries? Some are not as weirded out and uptight as we are. Shit, our dog eats beside us every night I cook at home!
                                                                          Doesn't your cat?

                                                                          1. re: Scargod

                                                                            One of our nicest memories is of a dinner in Paris. You actually went up a spiral metal staircase to the upper level. Next to us were four Parisian women and two had their dogs with them. Our French is almost non-existent and their English was little better. But we "bonded" over the pups and they invited us to join them at a cafe after dinner.

                                                                          2. re: Sooeygun

                                                                            Jfood lives in a very dog-friendly town (thank you very much). Many of the merchants have water bowls for us, and there are even some merchants that leave a thing of cookies for the 4-legged customers. On any given Saturday the main streets are full of people with dogs. Several restaurants have outdoor seating where we are welcome as well. As long as the pooch is well behaved, they are allowed in 99% of the stores in town. Unfortunately the BOH has written rules that we cannot go into restaurants though.

                                                                            1. re: jfood

                                                                              In Cuchara, CO in the Spanish Peaks (elevation 9000) where I had my mountain cabin, the only restaurant open year around is The Dog Bar. The dogs behave better than the people. There is no BOH in Huerfano County; just people with a lot of common sense.

                                                                              1. re: jfood

                                                                                Yes, I was just thinking today that it is pretty standard in Manhattan to be able to bring one's dog anywhere, other than places that serve or sell food, unless one is eating outside. And, there are several neighborhood markets that I frequent, where one of the employees will hold on to the dog outside, while I run in to get something quickly. Or, I phone in my order and then pick it up while walking the dog, quickly poking my head in (but not the dog's) to sign for the order.

                                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                                  I don't have a dog any more. I would enjoy living in your town and "sharing" the dogs in public.

                                                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                                                    I don't mind dogs out and about at all. EXCEPT for the day three days before school starts-- have you ever been in a Staples on a day like that? Hundreds of people with bursting carts and overflowing school supply lists trying to find dozens of disparate items. And one lady with a little 5 pound dog on a leash 6 feet long. The dog was always 5 feet away from the lady completely, obliviously blocking the aisle. I mean, think!

                                                                                2. re: lotuseedpaste

                                                                                  While not a grocery store, I used to frequent a corner store back home that had no rules about not bringing animals into the store, presumably unless they weren't on a leash etc. No one ever said anything to me when I walked in with my small dog on a leash (well watched as well btw and a very short leash at that), nor were there ever signs posted. And they did have food in there, including a deli case and such. It was a pretty laid back place. And nothing was in reach of any animal anyway.

                                                                                  All of the convenience stores around me now where I live, there are signs up on the doors saying no dogs allowed. I tried to walk in for a bottle of water once while walking the dog, before I knew of this, and was told I couldn't enter. I find it a little funny that below the counter at foot level and up to counter, there are open displays of candy bars, gum, mints etc, that very regularly look like they have been pawed over numerous times by sticky fingers or squished by people leaning into them.

                                                                                  I guess there were a few dog owners that ruined it for everyone. Maybe they let them roll around in the deli case or something.

                                                                                3. Many, many years ago, I worked at two different grocery stores. One was a small, chain (less than twenty smallish stores in North Alabama) and the other a much larger (I think national) chain. If I let what I know bother me, I would have to grow or raise my own food. The biggest thing that stuck with me from that experience was that I cook any ground meat from a supermarket until it is fully and throughly cooked. Thanks to some great advice from folks here at CH, I've been successfully grinding my own meat recently and now get to have med-rare burgers at home.

                                                                                  I never heard of anyone (at either of the stores) ever mention cleaning the carts. The floors were swept and mopped daily.

                                                                                  I very rarely use the plastic produce bags for my produce and just place the fruits and veggies in my cart because I'm trying to be "greener." I'm rethinking that (just now!) based on this thread. I am careful about not placing them on wet areas of the conveyor belt because I have no way of knowing what the liquid was.

                                                                                  My biggest issue at the grocery store is my own fault. I want to bag my own groceries. I know how to do it. I used to be a trained professional. ;-) I put the stuff on the conveyor belt in groups (frozen, dairy, meats, grains, canned goods, produce, breads, non-food items, etc) in the hope that it might actually be bagged that way. It's rare. Usually, I'll get the flour in the bag with the milk, canned goods on top of my bread or bananas, and detergents with produce.

                                                                                  I wish my Publix would get a self-checkout.

                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Ima Wurdibitsch

                                                                                    Warm canned goods with the frozen food..... It is virtually impossible to get the frozen stuff home in the summer no matter how carefully I put it all on the conveyor together. As far as the 'germs' from all of the above mentioned items, I don't worry a bit about them. The "sanitizer Suzys" are the ones who are always sick--those of us who keep our immune system working overtime are rarely sick.

                                                                                    1. re: NVJims

                                                                                      "those of us who keep our immune system working overtime are rarely sick"

                                                                                      How true!

                                                                                      We travel to Flushing, New York once a week to shop in the Chinese markets and eat authentic Chinese dishes. Occasionally people will beg us to take them along. Well, I've had more than one visitor come back and get sick! A couple of people picked up a nasty flu, and a couple of other people (who ate the same food we did at lunch) came back with pretty serious stomach complaints.

                                                                                      The explanation for this is that my wife and I have become immune to the bugs that thrive in Flushing's teeming (and not dreadfully sanitary) central district.

                                                                                      It occurred to me that when I was dating my wife, and visiting Chinatown infrequently, there were times that she and I had eaten the same thing, and she was fine but I got very, very sick. That hasn't happened in years.

                                                                                    2. re: Ima Wurdibitsch

                                                                                      I always separate the cold/perishable stuff from everything else on the conveyor belt, and tell the checker and bagger that I want them bagged that way. It's also easier for me to unload, as I've got to go up 2 flights of stairs to my kitchen, and some stuff (extra staples) remains stored in the garage or my extra fridge. If the bagger doesn't get it exactly "right" I'll redo the bags before I load my car.

                                                                                      1. re: rednails

                                                                                        Now in Toronto there is a law that says you must pay for plastic bags. Suddenly eco-bags are everywhere. Cheap as well, as the shops realise the advantage of the advertising they can print on the side.

                                                                                        I go shopping with a backpack and some Ikea bags. But I always did this. The law has upgraded me from idiot to mildly eccentric. These Ikea bags are mini dumpsters, huge blue things that are so easy to pack. And I pack them myself. Heavy, frozen and cold items go in the back pack. Squidgey, gooey, leaky things in another, and veg in another and so on. Having all the heavy stuff in a backpack makes life easy. I can tote 60 lbs worth of stuff round in it so the handbags are easy to carry. This also means I don't have to ferry my cart back to its train to reclaim my dollar.

                                                                                        I know I am the odd man out, but I find it strange that so few people use a backpack to shop with.

                                                                                        1. re: Paulustrious

                                                                                          I was just suggesting that a friend do that who has trouble walking and carrying things in front of him. It can help with weight distribution and allow you to carry more.

                                                                                          1. re: Scargod

                                                                                            I seem to have a lot more friends with disabilities than I used to.

                                                                                    3. When I buy parsley or cilantro, I try to remember to tell the checker what it is so she/he doesn't stick their nose in the bag to sniff it. That's happened to me more than a couple of times. So gross.

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Babyducks

                                                                                        So gross... that they smell you food?
                                                                                        You don't sniff things before buying? I particularly smell bread, peaches, nectarines and apples and seafood and chicken.
                                                                                        You forgot "long, ugly, red and dripping" nose.

                                                                                        1. re: Scargod

                                                                                          I had the same thought as you, Scar. And since the parsley and cilantro are frequently right next to each other and all but identical, I sniff those also. Or better yet, pinch off a leaf and taste. For me, it's impossible to pick out fruit and vegetables without handling them.

                                                                                      2. Most of the grocery stores I shop at have spray cleaner and paper towels at the register and I'm never shy about asking for it, or for them to clean the belt before I load it up. As for folks in stores handling the food after scratching, etc. I always assume everything has been handled that way, and wash pretty much everything but berries with a scrubber and soap, any way, before preparing.

                                                                                        1. What's odd is that supermarkets in Italy have plastic gloves you're supposed to use to pick produce. (Maybe other European countries do it too) And shoppers will yell at you if you don't use them. Yet I feel the U.S. has more hygienic practices than Italy. Hmm.

                                                                                          1. If seeing my groceries on the floor bothered me that much, I would have gotten extra bags to re-bag before placing in my clean car trunk... That or unloaded my groceries from the floor of my kitchen rather than countertops. I try not to think too much about it though...

                                                                                            It grosses me out more to touch the grocery cart handlebars. From being handled so often, they have higher chances of harboring live bacteria. Eww.

                                                                                            1. I just assume that all food coming into the house is suspect and needs to be rinsed/washed/cooked to deal with bad things that might be lurking. You can't protect yourself 100%, but if you use accepted food handling guidelines, you'll probably be okay. I certainly would not depend on the person who mops the supermarket floor or cleans the check-out conveyor belt.

                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                Yikes, you may want to think twice before visiting US.

                                                                                                1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                  I have now followed jfood's lead and turned one bay of my garage into a autoclave. When I step through the air lock and out of the shower I immediately irradiate everything before unwrapping. After I unwrap everything I run it through the irridiator again and then the dishwasher. Only problem is, I loose a lot of labels and the lettuce gets limp. :(

                                                                                                  1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                    Tedious and expensive, but you have to be careful.

                                                                                                    I must say that I've been putting my handbag and many other floor-visitors on the kitchen counter forever and never even considered the danger. And don't put your hat there, Scar!

                                                                                                    1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                      And the award for largest carbon footprint in Southern New England goes to...

                                                                                                  2. Hi Normandie - yes, these things really bother me too. When I see things like this, my question is always Where is the manager? Why doesn't anybody who works here CARE? What other "shortcuts" are they taking with our food, besides obviously not cleaning the joint? Are they lazy? Oblivious? Spiteful? Blind? What?
                                                                                                    In fact, I posted something similar today - I was horrified at a grocery store not long ago, due to them actually cleaning, but the wrong way, and in possibly a harmful way.
                                                                                                    Here is my post to see the details of my experience with meat + Windex:


                                                                                                    1. What I find disturbing about a lot of supermarkets is rotten produce still on the shelf, fish counters that stink and freezers that aren't cold enough.