Sunday, October 6, 2013

Love you Whole Foods Markets, but not the fingers, noses and butts

By Jane Feehan

I love Whole Foods. I shop there four or five times weekly and when I travel (frequently), the first thing I look for after arriving somewhere is a Whole Foods Market. That said, what I don’t like about this mecca for lovers of organics and freshly prepared fare is customers sampling with fingers, lifting soup and other ladles to their noses and their exhibiting a host of other ill-mannered, unsanitary behaviors that could affect food safety.

What prompted this post was the final straw: a kid sitting on the side of a case at the deli department with his butt draped over a container holding a tuna cranberry wrap with his non-plussed, irresponsible mother standing at his side. I would have taken a photo had it not been of a child.

A month ago my sister observed what appeared to be a mother-daughter team opening and sampling cartons of fresh blueberries and raspberries at the Whole Foods Market in Palm Beach Gardens. Sister went over to a produce staffer and told him about it. They both watched as the team continued grazing. The employee approached them, told them to stop and picked up the opened containers to throw away. He told them off. There were probably other ravaged cartons, but this is all the staffer saw personally.

I won’t buy loose walnuts or almonds from Whole Foods bins. People (mostly men!) dig into the bins for large handfuls of the stuff for immediate consumption. Yesterday, I saw one gent carefully wiping his hands on his shorts after he plunged into some dried fruit and then moved on to the next barrel.

Another day, I observed a man digging out a piece of fresh pineapple from the salad bar with his fingers and plopping it into his mouth. On one of her daily trips to the market, my sister witnessed a woman sticking a finger into soup – ostensibly to test its temperature.

Then there are kids who run to the samples of cheeses, cookies and other foods who reach up with their dirty hands for a morsel before parents notice or can catch up with them. If they can reach, they do the same at the hot food and salad bars.

I know it’s not Whole Foods’ obligation to teach good manners and hygiene, but they are responsible for keeping their food safe.  I applaud their efforts to keep the moochers at bay with signs (albeit tiny) prohibiting “self-sampling.” This is not enough.

Raise the sampling trays, empower your employees to step up and approach customers, appoint a monitor – something. There’s a website that posts pictures of the hideously dressed at Walmart. Let’s hope no one thinks about posting pictures of Whole Foods moochers and ill-mannered customers with their noses and fingers in soup.

Tags: Whole Foods Markets, South Florida markets, bad customers

1 comment:

D. Michael Miller said...

This is so sad. I've witnessed the same thing at the Whole Foods in Coral Gables. I admonished the culprits directly, didn't go to the manager. The culprits told me to buzz off, that's it's acceptable to sample stuff from the buffet. I hope they were wrong.