Cross Contamination at the Grocery Store

Last night, a stop on the way home at a grocery store brought a problem to my attention. I really try to remain positive and I hate making a fuss over things. It takes a lot for me to want to speak up about something. We were in line waiting to check out and were behind a customer purchasing what seemed like a year supply of meat. I overheard the cashier explaining to the customer that she was going to put gloves on before handling the meat. The customer asked if it was because she was vegetarian or something. The cashier replied with an “Oh no!” as if she was insulted by the idea. The reason she was putting gloves on was in case there was meat juice leaking from the packages. This is an understandable concern and I was impressed that the cashier thought about doing so for her own safety. However she seems to only think about herself.

After she was done ringing up all the meat I expected her to take the gloves off and throw them away. That didn’t happen. In fact, while she was waiting for the woman to pay she was touching everything around her with the gloves on potentially spreading all sorts of germs all over the counter, register, and credit card machine. Now I thought she would have had the sense to take off the gloves before handling our food and I was paying close attention to make sure she did. As soon as she started reaching to pick up our first item I couldn’t take it, I had to say something. So I leaned in closer to her and said, “I’m sorry, can you please take your gloves off in case there was any meat juice on them? Thank you.” Boy did she not like me after that. I don’t know if the look on her face was because I pointed out her lack of food safety practices or because she thought I was being one of those customers making their life harder. She did not say one word to until she handed my husband the receipt to say have a nice day (under her breath with no eye contact).

This isn’t even entirely because we are vegan and I don’t want bacteria from meat all over our food. It’s a cross contamination concern for all people. The reason I do want to point out that it is a vegan concern is because we generally don’t worry about having such bacteria on our food and packages so we don’t clean our groceries for that reason. This means we could have had this happen to us before without knowing it and spreading germs all over our kitchen. I’m far from being a Germaphobe but I felt like one last night.

On the way home I couldn’t let this go and when we got home I thought of a solution. Why don’t grocery stores designate a check out line for no meat? I do plan on suggesting this to the grocery store from last night. One line shouldn’t be impossible to manage. It’s not like I’m asking for all but one line to be no meat. I’m more realistic than that. I can only imagine the excuses they will give me as to why they can’t manage such a request. In case they do then I will merely suggest to train their employees better on the meaning of cross contamination. Since this happened it got me thinking that they probably don’t even sanitize their conveyor belts. What if the person behind us had fruit not in a bag? We do wash all fruits and vegetables we buy but I know not everyone does that. This could be a real problem.

I don’t think I am being unreasonable and this isn’t a vegan activist attempt even though it could be. I am genuinely concerned for public health. If this is something that also concerns you then bring it up to your grocery store. It would be great if I wasn’t the only person suggesting a check out line that we would all feel comfortable going through.

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