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Problems with Kroger meat department? Anyone else?

Has anyone else noticed a rapid decrease in the quality of meat you get at Krogers? Over the last 5 years or so the items I usually buy have gone from pretty average to almost inedible.

I regularly buy the bone-in chicken breasts whenever they're on sale, and I'm now only getting about 4 edible breasts for every six or seven I buy - the rest are too tough and stringly to shred for chicken salad. And don't get me started on the pork - they've made the switch to using only "enhanced" pork, which is injected with water and sodium - I have no argument with paying a little more for the water weight, but this completely messes up the texture and doesn't taste quite right.

I'm getting to where I only buy meat at our local butcher ($$$) or Sam's Club (excellent meats, but there's only two at our house - I don't often need a dozen steaks, and freezer space is at a premium). There are probably six or seven Krogers in my city and I shop at 3 usually. Is this a widespread issue? Has anyone else noticed the same thing?

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  1. Yes, I've noticed it on several levels. Their meat quality is way off ~ The overall workmanship (sloppy merchandising, sloppy packaging, bloody packages etc, etc. in their meat departments are at an all time low. There is no sense of urgency in having the departments "ready for business" or to have advertised specials available. ~ In my area they enjoy a large market share of business. This seems to have created a 'don't give a damn attitude' With some traveling I have access to 3 or 4 Kroger stores. I live in the deep South.

    1. I guess this question could also apply to any chain grocery that dominates its market. Kroger is mostly what we're stuck with here, unless you plan to do some driving. Our other options are Walmart, Meijers, Fresh Market and (at long last!) Trader Joe's. BUT there are only one each of TJ and FM - 20+ minutes of driving, Meijers is 30 minutes away, and Walmart is, well, Walmart. Plus I live near the scuzzy Walmart. Kroger is a 5 minutes drive or 20 minute walk. Are you happy with the store you're stuck with?

      1. Interesting. Kroger Corporate owns two chains in our area -- neither under the Kroger name -- and both are fine. One has truly excellent though expensive meat (though their sales are pretty good) and the other has good to very good meat most of the time with some terrific sale prices.

        10 Replies
        1. re: acgold7

          What are those chains? I didn't know Kroger had other entities. Maybe they're like the Banana Republic and Gap, and we are stuck with only Old Navy.

          I recently bought about 4 packs of short ribs, got them home, and realized one was definitely not short ribs. I took it back and was sent to speak with the "butcher" (some guy in a white coat) who assured me that it was indeed short ribs, just cut "the other way". I have no idea to this day what that cut of meat was - shaped roughly like a fish, no fat, no bones, and cut with the grain - weird. They let me exchange it very nicely though.

          1. re: NonnieMuss

            In my area Springfield,Mo,Dillons is the name of the chain part.

            1. re: NonnieMuss

              In Colorado and nearby, Kroger stores are King Soopers.

              1. re: NonnieMuss

                I assume acgold is in SoCal and is refering to Ralphs (mainstream) & Food 4 Less (discount).

                1. re: aimeekm

                  Here in Las Vegas, Kroger's operates "Smith's"

                    1. re: mucho gordo

                      I live in Las Vegas, too. I recently purchased 2 large packs of Heritage chicken. They had been marked down with the yellow and orange labels. The price you pay per pound is inflated from what is stated on the new label. One pkg. was marked 71 cents per pound, but it actually came to 83 cents per pound. The other pkg was marked 1.59 per pound, but ended up being 1.72 per pound. I noticed about a year ago that the price wasn't right on some marked down salmon . From now on, I'll be more careful. Also the new Heritage brand is tough and the absorber inside is twice as thick as before. It rips and the gel is hard to clean out of the sink. I didn't know about the enhanced chicken until I read the other posts. There is also something wrong with the bakery bread and the doughnuts .

                  1. re: NonnieMuss

                    Here in the Seattle area they own QFC (upscale) and Fred Meyer (sort of an everything general department store -- like a Wal-Mart but better -- with a supermarket inside).

                    1. re: NonnieMuss

                      In mid-Missouri, the Kroger-owned grocery stores are called Gerbes Supermarkets. You can go anywhere in the US and be able to use your "Kroger card" (or in our case Gerbes card) at any Kroger-owned store. We use our Gerbes card at Kroger in Ohio when we visit my mother there...it's the one with tomatoes on it. I'm assuming they all look like that?

                      My husband does the meat shopping, and he says our Gerbes still has pretty good quality with their meat and have great sales.

                      1. re: NonnieMuss

                        In the San Diego market, Kroger operates two chains: Ralphs, which is mid-to-high end, and Food 4 Less, which is a 'value' chain.

                    2. Kroger in my area seems to be moving away from a decent chicken brand (Millers Amish) to Perdue and an inhouse "natural" brand which I found to be not very good.

                      I'm totally with you on the pork as well. Prebrined is disgusting.

                      Costco or premium local chains for meat.

                      1. I shop at Kroger-owned King Soopers and most of the time everything is fine. They even carry the "simple truth" brand of pork chops which is not enhanced. It's pricier, but because of that it often goes in the discount section, which is where I buy it from for $2-3 a package. I have no issues w/ their chicken... it's not the greatest ever but it's certainly more than edible. I do trim it myself at home because it's poorly done, but I only buy it when it's $1.99/lb on sale, so I don't mind a little extra work, since I'm portioning it out to freeze anyway. The chicken at Costco is better, but runs $2.99/lb and for the amount of chicken we eat and the budget I'm on, that extra $1/lb makes a difference.

                        My biggest issue is some of their staff isn't knowledgable. One time they had ground chicken on sale, and I asked the guy who was stocking the meat case (right next to the chicken) where I could find it and he was like, "oh we don't have that". I thought that odd, especially since this is newly built store (ie huge with TONS of selection normally) so after I finished the rest of my shopping I stopped back by the meat and found it myself... it was right next to the area he was stocking. But other guys that work in that department are knowledgeable so I try to find them when I need something.

                        Oh and in December (during the thick of college football), they didn't have wings that weren't from a bag in the frozen food section, and he had to rustle up some drumettes from the back as they didn't have any on display. I thought that to be weird.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: juliejulez

                          I have recently seen the simple truth line at my Krogers. It was miles better than the enhanced stuff, but still not that great. The texture was right, though, which made up for a little lack of flavor. My druncle, King of the Pork Tenderloin, served 6 from Kroger at a family gathering recently. He asked us the next day if they tasted weird - I told him about the enhancement and he swore off Kroger pork forever.

                          1. re: NonnieMuss

                            "drunkle" - Love it! We always called ours "Uncle Butthead".

                            Good to know about Kroger meat, though. I'll keep an eye out for the difference next time I think about meat when I'm there.

                        2. I also have essentially quit buying meat at Kroger. I go to Whole Foods or Central Market (small Texas chain) for meat. I just stock up on basics, like diet sodas, canned tomatoes, etc. I do like Kroger's rotisserie chicken, at least where I live, they do a good job at that.

                          1. I have noticed! I thought it was just a fluke, even though its happen a few times lately. We don't cook at home very often so I thought it was a mistake. I've noticed bones in their chicken strips. I finally just decided to either go to Publix or make my own strips so I can check for bones more thoroughly. I've also noticed they don't sell 'pork chops'. They sell pork loin chops, but they're way too big. What they call pork chops are off the bone. The best pork chop meat is right on the bone, in my opinion. I've also noticed 'leaky' packaging. Ew.

                            1. My local Kroger in Houston actually has a decent meat department.

                              Their head butcher, (Hi Joseph!) has helped me out several times when I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for.

                              Once they were advertising split chicken breasts but didn't have any out. I inquired, he looked around and then grabbed a whole chicken and went and cut them.

                              Another time I wanted some boneless beef ribs and he went and cut some for me from the primal. I'm pretty sure he gave me a really good deal both times.

                              And of course, they are always happy to grind a chuck for me when asked.

                              I can't speak for all Kroger's of course, but I would absolutely recommend Joseph at MY Kroger.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: DoobieWah

                                You're lucky to have a real butcher at your Kroger. We have maybe 8 or 9 Krogers in town, and only two have butchers onsite, rather than guys in white coats who unpack the meat into the cases. And while those with butchers definitely give better service, I still don't care for the quality of the meat, especially the pork.

                                1. re: NonnieMuss

                                  The lean ground beef Mrs CHM buys at Kroger exudes a lot of.... errr, something. No idea what it is. At 95% lean it isn't fat.

                              2. August 11, 2013
                                RE: Kroger's in Oregon, Ohio Navarre Ave. Location

                                I've been shopping at Kroger's for at least 25 years. However, I have noticed in the past year, each time I buy a package of bone-in chicken breasts, there is a large amount of water in the package. I know this is common practice to add more weight but I have noticed this amount of water INCREASING in the past several months. So, I decided to weigh the last package I bought. 10.56 ounces!!! That is what I actually poured into a measuring cup. That's not counting that the package leaked, dripped down in my vegetable bin (without my realizing it). I poured off an additional 4 ounces for a grand total of 14.56 ounces folks!!! Almost a pound of water added to one package of chicken. Not only that, but the water that drained into my vegetable bin, completely contaminated 4 oranges, 5 lemons and a bag a batteries I had stored in there. I had to throw everything out as it already was quite smelly. I bleached out the entire shelf and drawer. Kroger's, I'm DONE SHOPPING IN YOUR STORE. Meijers is a mere 1 mile farther down the road, I NEVER had a problem with their meats. I'm tired of being ripped off. In fact, about 6 years ago, a woman who worked in your meat department told me, "If you knew what Kroger's did to their meats, you would not buy it". I doubted her then, I no longer doubt she was telling the truth. ***Customers BEWARE***

                                1. Absolutely. It's why I don't shop there much anymore since a new grocer opened in my area.

                                  Lack of quality.

                                  Lack of variety -- if it ain't ground, steak, chop, roast.

                                  Non-ground cuts are thin -- can't get a thick steak.

                                  Seafood is all prefrozen -- including stocking the "fresh" shrimp by opening a bag of Kroger brand frozen from the case and dumping it on the ice.

                                  Occasionally, I've opened meat and it smells kind of woofy.

                                  No more for me.

                                  1. I'm on the phone with customer service right now. My ground beef wasn't out of date but, while i cooked it, it smelled rank. It was $12 of 80% lean ground beef and it smells bad....this is not the first time this has happened to me at this store and this store is the flagship store in
                                    GA. It is supposed to be the biggest, newest, most advanced store they have. My neighbor also noticed a problem with her meat and stopped shopping there. AWFUL!!!

                                    1. We have Fry's here, part of the Kroger's chain, and the meat departments vary pretty wildly. We live in the midle of a nest of them, There are five of them in a five mile radius.One time we went around looking for a good leg of lamb and covered four of them that didn't have any, but at the last one we found a spectacular one. They do vary a lot.
                                      No, there are six of them. Kind of amazing. But I've never seen any of the bloody packages or "disgusting quality" that this thread mentions. Somepof them are minimalist at best when it comes to the meat dept, and some have great butcher counters.

                                      1. Our family usually buy the large packages of boneless skinless breast. The last four packs we have cooked tasted like fish. At first we thought it was bad oil but now know for certain it is the breast meat. We have decided not to buy meat from Kroger anymore.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Viebee

                                          We have had the exact same problem. Ever since Kroger switched to Heritage Farm chicken, we are unable to eat the chicken. It tastes like fish every time, and the consistency is unpleasant. After having had several dinners ruined, I have had to buy our chicken at other stores, which is inconvenient. Without knowing about our problem, my brother happened to mention that they'd had the exact same problem with their chicken from King Soopers tasting like fish. What's worse is that they had guests for one of their ruined dinners. So disappointing!

                                          1. re: apuchino

                                            I was at Kroger last night and the HF chicken was on sale...I was tempted until I read "enhanced by x% salt solution". No No No.

                                            What a deal...99 cents a pound for salt water plus other tasty chemicals.

                                            1. re: apuchino

                                              I've given up on the HF chicken too. I buy my chicken at Safeway or Costco now. It was very tempting too because they sent me a "personal price" e-coupon that would make boneless skinless chicken breasts $1.89/lb. But, just no.

                                          2. I've been a vegetarian for 30 years, so I don't eat chicken. However, I feed my dogs cooked chicken. Guess what? My dogs refuse to eat the Kroger chicken. They will just let it sit out and go bad. That's when I read the back of the packaging and discovered the "enhanced water and chemicals added." I have to drive all the way to HEB about 10 miles down the road to chicken for my dogs--or buy the organic. However, now I am suspicious of anything organic by Kroger's.

                                            The extra salt and chemicals (natural flavors that can be just about anything including cells produced from aborted embryos) added to the chicken and pork help the poor quality meat taste edible and sit out in the case longer.

                                            For your health, please avoid Kroger's "enhanced" meats as they are about as safe as eating at a fast food restaurant. If enough people would protest their awful meats, then perhaps they would change.

                                            The added salt is bad for the health of Americans--and their dogs.

                                            By the way, I still sometimes buy the Kroger's gizzards for my dogs because they are not chemically "enhanced." The other day I was suspicious of the weight--and guess what?

                                            The chicken gizzards packages were all over a pound over marked. I complained to the assistant manager, and he said it wasn't his fault because the packages are made somewhere else. I made loud stink about that being fraud--and people were watching. "Check the weight of your meat packages," I said loudly to other shoppers.

                                            I did check the next week and had several packages reweighed at the counter, but they were right.

                                            1. People shopping at Kroger obviously value price over quality, is it surprising that their meat is subpar? You get what you pay for.

                                              1. Update: Kroger has introduced new packaging to their brand of chicken, and it now contains up to FIFTEEN PERCENT injected solution. Pork is now up to 12%. I'm all for better living through science, but this is just... I just can't. Can't eat the disgusting meat product they ruin, can't justify paying for 15% salt water. They've destroyed meat - I guess beef is next.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                  I hope they leave the beef alone--I like the bone-in ribeye steaks they put on sale from time to time. I don't buy ANY meat at Target because they use the "flavor enhancing solution" on their beef along with pork and chicken.

                                                  That chicken and pork IS vile.

                                                2. Yes, Kroger and a new store here in Indy called Fresh Thyme. Had a taste for grilled cod, so went to Fresh Thyme and bought a pound for the grill. Got it home, unwrapped it, and it WREAKED of fish! Not so FRESH, Fresh Thyme!. So brought it back to the store within 15 minutes of getting it home, and stopped at Kroger on the way back home to pick up some cod there. When we got to the meat/seafood dept., I told my husband, "boy, it really smells like bleach back here." He agreed. So, we picked up a pound of cod--got it home, and it smelled just slightly fishy. We rinsed it off and grilled it. Once we started eating it, the fish smelled very strong of ammonia. Needless to say, we didn't finish the rest, and opted for our salads instead. We will now buy fish from the 3x more expensive fish market that is a 30-minute drive vs. eating whatever crap they are putting into our seafood. Very sad that we can't eat healthy without spending a fortune!

                                                  1. I live in the middle of an area that has three Krogers, two are pretty lousy and one decent with friendlier employees and service, cleaner, etc.. None of them have a meat department that'll do anything for you though. I'm not sure when that happened but if you want a coarser grind, different size pack of something if there isn't one out, or something cut a certain way, well... I guess you're just out of luck. So we get most of our meat from Sam's Club or Costco which is where we've seen the wet issue some are mentioning. None of this used to be this way, ground beef wasn't wringing wet and Kroger used to have good chicken. The new normal I guess.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: On_yun

                                                      Sam's now only carries injected chicken now too. I sent them an email asking them to stop. I guess we'll see. The poultry industry is making something like $2 billion a year selling salt water.

                                                    2. I quit buying Kroger chicken (frozen and fresh) because it was too tough to chew through, which is not only disgusting but indicative of something very wrong.

                                                      1. Yes I've had the same experience at Kroger and Walmart. I've also went to buying at a mom and pop store because there meat is untampered with and priced the same its just not as convent.

                                                        1. Ugh to Heritage Farms! I bought the individually frozen chicken wing sections. Did five pieces on the grill. They were tough. A few days later I fried another five in a small amount of oil. TOUGH! I was so disappointed. Haven't been buying my chicken from Krogers because most of it is "ENHANCED". That translates to you are paying for water. Only once did I try it for frying. Fat splattering everywhere. Returning the remainder of the package. I always return something that isn't satisfactory. Believe most people don't. And when they ask if I have my receipt, I just say "no, I don't keep receipts", which is true.

                                                          Enough of a rant from me. I want to find some great tasting chicken. I love chicken.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: RosieW

                                                            if you're in the midwest, look for Millers Amish.

                                                          2. Definitely noticed a massive drop in the quality of meats from Kroger. Bought best pork chops, thin cut, with great date. Had to return the next day as I know this was not pork or perhaps spoiled pork. Even though it did not smell spoiled, there was a slime on the chops UNDER THE FIRST CHop. I will only buy meats from Publix from now on. This was a very sickening experience.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: WilliamT

                                                              William T., I have lots of choices of where to buy meats. In case you do also, consider Hispanic markets and independent meat markets. When I want ground beef, I go to my Wilkes Meat Market, say I'd like 2 pounds of chuck. They pick up a chuck roast from the display and grind it then. The differences in the taste are astounding. Same for the Hispanic markets for poultry and pork. Amazingly fresh. Publix has beautiful meats, but their prices are generally more than I feel I can spend.