Avoiding cross-contamination at checkout
Posted: June 23rd, 2009 - 10:25am
After my post in April “Cross-contamination at checkout,” one person (crs) commented:
“That's the ultimate check-out horror story. I usually put meat items in plastic bags to be on the safe side. I bag fresh produce for the same reason. I also leave the meat items till last to minimize contact with my other groceries (which doesn't help the person behind me, but I can't cover for everyone). On the downside, I'm not doing the environment any good with all those plastic bags.”
Putting my story out there and realizing how ashamed I was to not be more aggressive with the checkers to protect my food has caused me to become far more proactive. Now two months later, we once again headed to Dillons on Saturday morning. This time I carefully organized items on the conveyor belt with produce first and meat last. I still do not know what was on the belt before I got there, but at least it was not visibly wet. When the bagger asked, “Plastic OK?” I said, “No, we have our own bags, but I want all of the meat put in plastic.” I did not notice until we got home, however, that the bagger did not classify salmon as meat. She did put the chicken and beef in their own plastic bags and kept them separate from the cloth bags. After unloading everything onto the belt, I asked the checker if I could have one of her sanitary wipes for my hands. She said sure but looked at me a little weird. She didn’t use one, but I have seen checkers religiously use them in the same store.
I am still adapting to reusable cloth bags and will likely continue to adjust my habits (That's me, left, not exactly as shown). I still do not put produce in separate plastic bags, but I keep a supply inside one of the cloth bags to cut down on waste. I either dispose of or recycle the ones that have been used for meat and fish so they do not get reused later on produce. More importantly, I’m learning to politely but quickly direct the checker and bagger about how I want my food handled. It’s not fail-safe, but in a short order of time I have learned that it is my responsibility to protect my family, and especially my baby, from pathogens whenever possible.