In a scathing segment on a recent show, the ABC newsmagazine 20/20 warned watchers about a number of “supermarket secrets,” including bacteria-infested deli counters, fungible expiration dates, and rodent-ridden stores.
Last week, the Food Marketing Institute, a trade organization representing grocers, wrote a letter to the segment’s producers, accusing the show of providing an “incomplete, unsubstantiated, and misinformed picture of each topic.”
“What is most tragic about the fear-over-fact tact taken [in the 20/20 segment] is that the segment could have offered practical help to the public regarding safe and wise shopping, simply by offering a more substantive look at these important issues.”
Viewers of 20/20 (segment starts around 25:44) did get some practical advice, including wiping down your grocery cart to avoid exposure to fecal matter, which has been found on 72 percent of carts; drying off produce that’s been sprayed for display in the supermarket; purchasing pre-packaged deli meat, which is less likely to be carrying the bacteria listeria.
The program was, of course, not the first to highlight bacteria and other consumer dangers found at the supermarket. Food recalls due to contamination have become common announcements.
An April report by the Environmental Working Group found a shockingly high portion of supermarket meats contain antibiotic-resistant superbugs. The organization recommended that consumers protect themselves from exposure by storing meat on the lowest rack in the refrigerator, away from fresh produce, using separate cutting boards for meat and produce, and using a food thermometer.
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