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Jan 23, 2013 08:49 AM

Cherry tomatoes on the floor

At my local market the other day, a mishap caused the produce stock person to spill a clamshell box of cherry tomatoes all over the floor. I watched as he picked them all up, put them back into the clamshell box and then put the box on the produce shelf for sale.

Most people wash their produce before eating, but even so I don't think it was appropriate to return the tomatoes that were on the floor to the retail shelf. I said to him, "you can't sell that" and without a word he removed the box from the shelf to his cart. Nevertheless I have no doubt once I was out of sight that clamshell box of tomatoes made its way back to the shelf.

Would you have said anything?

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  1. those tomatoes have been in contact with a lot more than the grocery-store floor before they get to your cart. not fussed. (eta: and that floor has been washed sometime in the last 24 hours...)

    Had it been apples/oranges/onions/tomatoes in a bulk bin that hit the floor (the pile gets off-balance), it wouldn't be any different -- and somehow I doubt that the store would be willing to chuck five pounds of oranges that went on the floor.

    Now-- had it been cut fruit or something wet/oily/not typically washed prior to consumption, it would have been an issue.

    1. Let's see. A farmer with unwashed hands picked those tomatoes, threw them into a bin, where they were trucked in the open air (bugs and flies, oh my) to a warehouse, sorted, packaged, and shipped to your market, handled by the produce guy, touched by other customers with various diseases and ideas about bathroom hygiene, and you are worried that they might have touched the FLOOR?

      4 Replies
      1. re: Isolda

        Yeah and what about the guy who had stepped in a pile of dog poop on his way into the store and 'deposited' some of it just where the tomatoes landed. Or maybe some landed on the spot where someone spit?
        It's irrelevant who did what with the tomatoes before they got into the store. Once those tomatoes are delivered to that store the store owns them. It's the principle of the thing if anyone cares about that anymore. I owned and managed a restaurant. The first thing I said to new employees is "any food that hits the floor hits the garbage. No exceptions. The next thing you do is go wash your hands after picking whatever up".
        'Assuming' that everyone washes their produce before eating it is a tad naive.

        1. re: Puffin3

          oh, let's add in fertilizer and pesticides and bird poop and bug poop and juice from rotting tomatoes dripping down from above and and and all the myriad things that are possible simply because there's a mathematical possibility that they could exist, regardless of what the realistic chances really are.,\...

          we can completely gross ourselves out if we really want.

          But hitting the floor in the grocery store isn't going to render them toxic. Ever.

          And it's not the grocery store's fault if someone doesn't wash the tomatoes...and proving that it is is going to be statistically approaching impossible.

          1. re: Puffin3

            Dropping prepared food is one thing; dropping produce is another. I'd definitely throw out the former, but I think it's best to just assume all produce is dirty and wash it well.

            My mother used to buy elephant dung from a zoo in Seattle to fertilize her garden, so I knew for sure that anything she grew had excrement on it!

            1. re: Puffin3

              Naive would be assuming the produce you buy is perfectly clean and sterile.

          2. The dirt /germs aspect doesn't bother me. But cherry tomatoes bruise pretty easily, and there's a good chance that some of those repackaged ones will turn mushy and then moldy within 24 hours, so I would not want to be the customer who innocently picked up that box. I'd feel the same way about strawberries. But oranges, onions, broccoli - that wouldn't concern me.

            1. things like that should be done in the back room where no one can see it happen.

              3 Replies
              1. re: KaimukiMan

                And that was exactly my point. Lots of nasty stuff happens to produce when we're not looking, so why get worked up about the stuff we do happen to see?

                I'm pretty squeamish, so I just assume my produce is dirty and wash it.

                1. re: Isolda

                  as they say, sausage can be great stuff, but sometimes you don't want to watch them making it.

                2. re: KaimukiMan

                  Exactly my thoughts. Seeing the produce stock person actually do the dirty deed made all the difference. Like it broke through the veneer that hides shoddy retail practices.

                3. The original comment has been removed