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Dec 19, 2009 03:57 PM

I will NEVER buy fresh meat from the butcher's counter at my local (insert well-known grocery store chain here), and here's why: WINDEX!

OK, so I am grocery shopping at my most frequented grocery store a few months ago, and saw something that I just can not get out of my mind.

In fact, it has forever altered my opinion of the entire fresh meat area in this store, and now I am beginning to worry about other stores as well. And yes, I still shop there - it's close, convenient, and otherwise has a good variety of foods.
BUT, never, ever, ever, will I buy meat from the glass cases, where all the fresh "unpackaged" meats are displayed.

Why, you ask?

Well, let's resume the story...
So I am grocery shopping at my most frequented local grocery store, standing in an aisle adjacent to the meat department, looking at soup or whatever, when all of a sudden, I see an employee open the meat counter glass display door thingys (they open from the front, where customers stand), and spray the entire inside of the glass with Windex.
There she was, spray, spray, spray, wipe, wipe, wipe, thinking she was doing a great job cleaning the insides of the display cases.

And my jaw dropped in horror. I couldn't believe what I was watching.

All I could think of was all of that Windex mist falling, falling, falling directly onto all that fresh meat. I mean, WHY would she do that? Everyone knows that when you spray anything from a spray bottle, it falls down, misting whatever is underneath it. And believe me, that opened display glass was directly over the meat.
Why oh why didn't she spray the cloth first (away from the food, please) and then wipe the glass? Where was her manager? Who trained her? Does she know that all of that meat will now have a funny chemical taste to it? Does she know what she is doing? Who hired her? Why doesn't she KNOW this is not right?

I have not since and never will purchase meat there again, period. She totally ruined it for me.

Am I overreacting?? I mean, we probably eat many, many things in our foods that shouldn't be there (hair, lint, bacteria, someone's eyelash, whatever) all year long. But man, I just don't want to know about it OR see it.

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  1. Whether or not you are overreacting is irrelevant, in my opinion. If you are uncomfortable eating windex, then you are reacting in an appropriate manner. I know I would not pay good money for ammonia! Well, not to eat it at least.

    I think you should call and let them know what was going on. It doesn't even have to be by name or "the employee working at 5pm on Sunday". If you inform them, then it could just be a general reminding of proper practices and food handling.

    Yeah, that is just gross.

    1 Reply
    1. re: MinkeyMonkey

      That would turn me off as well. Talk to the meat manager.

    2. I was in a Japanese restaurant and watched in amazement as a worker squirted glass cleaner *inside* the sushi case. When I told the manager he defended the worker and said that there was a layer of plastic wrap between the fish and where he was spraying. I didn't buy that. The plastic was wrinkled and in several pieces; the glass cleaner surely would've gotten through.

      The OP should have informed the meat manager/store manager immediately.

      I've seen the new display cases that save the workers having to squeeze in from the back to clean the glass. They have 'em at the deli and the meat counter where I shop. I'm tempted to wait around some night to see how they clean the deli glass. I could see how easy it would be for a lazy employee not to take the food out of the case before cleaning the glass.

      1. I'm sure someone will come around and post how Windex is 1% ammonia (or whatever) and 99% water and the chemicals are perfectly safe and no more than whatever other chemicals we're getting from whatever else the meat touched and besides a lot of it evaporated on its way from the spray bottle to the meat and didn't you cook the meat anyway and if you're going to be that picky you might as well stay home in your hermetically sealed bubble.

        HOWEVER, it all still sounds really gross to me.

        Speaking of gross things. I could be just imagining this, but I've eaten at least two take out food items in the last two weeks that had an alcohol taste to them. One was so bad I had to return it and ask for my money back. it got me thinking that maybe the preparers in both cases had overdone their use of hand sanitizer and took to the food prep task while their hands were still wet with the goop.

        1. This is perhaps a contrarian viewpoint (and to be clear, I'm writing as someone who used to work for an industrial cleaning company that cleaned restaurants and retail food stores), but yes, I think you may be slightly overreacting. For one thing, was the employee using an actual bottle of blue liquid marked Windex, or are you using that as a generic term for a glass cleaner in a spray bottle?

          Because if the latter, then chances are good -- probable, in fact -- that the employee was using not Windex but an equally common and entirely non-toxic glass cleaner whose active ingredients are white vinegar and citrus oils. I'm not arguing that said employee shouldn't have done as you suggest (spraying the cloth), I'm just saying that it's possible that it was not Windex that was being sprayed.

          2 Replies
          1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

            Do you have a link that shows what this cleaner might be? I did a Google search for "citrus cleaner" and there is not a single item listed that I would want sprayed on my food.

            For example ... this:

            Here is the product info sheet:

            1. re: taos

              I know that this is a late response, but they may have been talking about Sun & Earth Glass Cleaner. It's made from Citrus and Coconut oils and corn based ingredients. It is non-toxic.

          2. That would bother me as well. A similar problem for me is when seated at a table and a staff person sprays the table next to me with some HD cleaning spray to wipe the table down for the next guest.
            The spray goes everywhere, and is usually very strong with a chemical oder. Just about makes me gag on the spot. Just plain stupid IMO.

            4 Replies
            1. re: pacheeseguy

              I dislike when busboys or servers start vacuuming or using the carpet sweeper around me while I am eating. This is not uncommon at Applebees near where I live.

              I also dislike going somewhere and no tables are clean so they take you to a table then leave you standing while they go get a pretty disgusting cloth and 'clean' the table.

              1. re: smartie

                Yes, that whole wiping the table down before they seat you at a restaurant bothers me too.

                Unless that rag is brand new, has bleach on it, and/or is washed/bleached/sanitized after every single time you use it, all they are doing with a damp dirty rag is spreading the bacteria evenly all over the top of your table.

                I remember watching a Discovery Channel special or whatever where they studied the filth content of various items in the typical kitchen - the dish rag or sponge in a typical kitchen was actually dirtier than the toilet. Full of more bacteria, etc.

                When I see them do it, I literally stand there thinking, "Gee, thanks for making sure the bacteria is so evenly distributed for me".
                I know, not nice, but true nonetheless.

                I wish I could just merrily be-bop into stores and restuarants having no clue whatsoever about anything other than filling up my cart or eating. I wish I didn't notice these things, really.

                1. re: aces551

                  RELAX PEOPLE..... as for the comment above... your intestines, colon, face, etc. are all covered in various bacteria and parasites... pinworm is about 10% of the population, toxoplasma gondii about 33%... and bacteria are ubiquitous... you might as well complain about the sun...
                  As for the windex issues, windex is about 28% ammonia which would be harmful if you drank directly from the bottle... several bottles... plus it is volatile and breaks down immediately (producing a strong smell b/c it is in a gas state)... I would suggest going to another grocery store if such bothers you..

                  1. re: guybelligerent

                    That's exactly how not calling the health department is rationalized by consumers and how businesses get away with practicing some of the things they do that actually DO make people sick.
                    Nobody says that a small amount of Windex is going to make anyone sick, because it won't.
                    The market I know about, that was actually closed down by the health department, by all appearances was clean and happens to be in a very upper class neighborhood. The infractions that came down from the health department were staggering and 'going to another grocery store', for some, isn't an option.
                    While, for the most part, what you've stated is true there are sanitary problems that can/do lead to health problem in grocery stores that should not be overlooked.