Retail Food Sales and Your Safety: It Is a Matter of Life and Death

Grocery Store Produce

Recall after recall because of Listeria, plastics, metal, and even glass found in foods, and now the FBI has in custody a madman who (allegedly) sprayed rat poison on produce at Whole Foods in Ann Arbor, Michigan (Duke, 2016).

Listeria or any other bacteria in frozen fruits and ice cream, for example, is a real problem because the foods are not washed nor cooked to kill any harmful contaminates before being consumed. Vegetables can be washed and/or cooked to remove and destroy bacteria, but ready to eat foods that cannot be washed and are not cooked to a high enough temperature can pose a serious health risk to us all.

Now we have an individual spraying rat poison on produce in a grocery store, what’s next, all you can eat buffets or will your meal be poisoned by a disgruntled cook in your favorite restaurant. The list of places to create mayhem is endless.

Scared Yet

Despite all of the above information, your chances of getting sick or worse would be considered minimal. The amount of food grown and raised commercially, and then sold and consumed versus the amounts found contaminated is minuscule. However, it does seem the problem is increasing, or is it the fact the testing is getting better, or the reporting is getting better, or because food production is ramped up, and so percentage wise more foods will be contaminated.

Intentional contamination, however, is very troublesome. It is by definition, an act of terror. Just the thought of your local buffet being sprayed with an unknown substance is enough to make your heart skip a few beats.

How would you feel the next day after eating at the all you can eat seafood buffet that someone was arrested for supposedly spraying something on the buffet? You would likely feel real fear and disgust. You would be terrorized by the thought, even before you knew all the facts.

What Can You Do

First, keep track of recalled foods, so you can get rid of any you may have. Visit http://www.foodsafety.gov/recalls/ to stay updated.

Keep in mind this is no guarantee because you may bring food home and consume within hours of purchase before there is even a recall notice. Additionally, you have to depend on the retailers (employees of the retailers) to pull any recalled products in a timely manner.

Wash all produce and this includes bagged and supposedly already washed and rinsed lettuce, carrots, and so on. Cucumbers, tomatoes, fruits and other fresh produce items should always be washed thoroughly right after getting home so there is no cross-contamination with other foods in the refrigerator or on the countertop.

As convenient as the cut up and packaged fruit is, you have no idea who cut it up, was it done in the store, was the cutting surface clean, did the employee wear gloves. You don’t know, so this is a risk. You may want to cut up your own fruit combo at home.

Don’t sample the grapes or strawberries as you browse the produce section or as you are waiting to check out. Yes, many of us have done this, and have seen others do it, but stop it. Who had their hands in there rummaging around among the grapes and berries besides you, and what contaminates are floating around that may have settled on the fruit.

If it can be washed, wash it before eating and if it has to be cooked, make sure you cook it so it reaches a sufficient temperature to kill any bacteria present.

One of the biggest fears we have is intentional poisoning of our food and water supply in this country. How easy would it be, well it seems to be rather easy because a person with a spray bottle did it, and where else did he do it that wasn’t noted.

Someone saw him doing it at Whole Foods, but what if no one was paying attention, or no one bothered to check the video tapes. Most stores do not have an individual monitoring the live feeds the entire time the store is open for business. Only after something has happened do they check the tapes in most cases.

When is someone going to start slipping something into whole chickens or beef roasts as they head to the packaging department in a meat processing plant? What if there was a large and concerted effort to do this across the country, and not just be some individual that was off their medication.

Duke, A. (2016, May). Retrieved 2016, from http://fox17online.com/2016/05/03/fbi-suspect-arrested-after-admitting-to-spraying-rat-poison-mixture-at-ann-arbor-grocery-stores/

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