20 Dark Secrets Workers Didn’t Want You To Know About The Food At The Grocery Store

The supermarket may be a place where all your culinary, household and entertainment needs all sit under one giant roof. But according to a 2019 Reddit thread, it’s also a place built on sneaky tactics, manipulation and bare-faced lies. Here’s a look at 20 secrets that may convince you otherwise when it comes to the convenience of your local store.

20. Apples may be at least a year old

From Golden Delicious and Granny Smith to the Red Delicious and Honeycrisp. The supermarket’s produce section is typically stocked with a whole variety of apples. But whether you’re going to munch on them or bake a pie, this fruit might not be as fresh as you think. So get ready for the why.

Yes, apparently the good old apple can be stored for up to 12 months before going on the shelves. That’s obviously only if it’s kept in the right conditions. So when you’re stocking up on apples for any occasion, remember one thing: they might have been picked from the trees a whole year before!

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19. Trolley carts are super dirty

The humble trolley cart can cause its fair share of problems in the supermarket world. “If you leave your cart in the parking lot, not in the corral, we all hate you on a deeply personal level.” That’s the opinion of one anonymous employee who took to Reddit to express their disdain for the inconsiderate shopper. But that doesn’t mean the employees are perfect, either.

Yes, because despite their convenience, you might prefer to give the trolley cart a miss in the future. For another Reddit user revealed that stores often use them to transport garbage from one area to another. And considering the carts only ever get washed when the heavens open, you never know what germs are hanging around.

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18. Meat goods are resold and rebranded

In the environmental age we live in, stores often go out of their way to encourage customers to change their habits. And it turns out that bottles, cans and paper aren’t the only things that get recycled. Yes, for some supermarkets will also repackage particular meat goods as something else entirely.

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Indeed, products on the verge of passing their sell-by date will sometimes be blended in ground meat or turned into sausages. And stores have to work particularly fast when it comes to chicken breasts with their skins on, according to the Reddit thread . For just before they turn green, their skins are removed and the chicken is rebranded as skinless.

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17. Baked goods are frozen

Prepare to have all your illusions shattered. You may wonder how a small number of staff can bake thousands of delicious looking breads, cakes and pastries every day. Well, the truth is… they don’t. Yes, because most of the equipment you see behind the bakery is superficial, as stores mainly buy their baked goods frozen!

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“Everything in our bakery comes in frozen. Even the few things we actually do bake in store come in as frozen dough first.” That’s the shocking revelation made by one supermarket whistleblower in the aforementioned Reddit thread. They continued, “People who have been ordering cakes or buying the Italian bread for years will sometimes decide to stop buying them when they find this out.”

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16. The checkout belts are filthy

You may think those little plastic bags you use for loose produce such as fruit and veg are entirely unnecessary. But you’re likely to double bag such items when you discover how filthy they can get at the check-out. Yes, the checkout belts are just as dirty as the shopping carts.

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“Don’t ever place loose produce (produce not in a little clear plastic bag) on the belt, especially on busy days,” warned a Reddit user named Negative Prize. They went on to add, “Those belts get really dirty and I rarely have time to clean it while my register is live.”

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15. They’re infested with rodents

They say you’re never more than six feet away from a rat. And that distance seems to be even shorter when you step inside a supermarket. Yes, apparently the pesky rodents like nothing more than making themselves at home at their nearest big box. What’s more, the area below the aisles is a particular favorite spot, according to the Reddit thread.

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One grossed-out employee also recalled a story which had everyone gagging. They said, “We had this awful smell down one particular isle. The manager never wanted to investigate and would just say something must have spilled. She even went as far to have us hang air fresheners on the shelves to mask the smell. Several years later the store underwent a remodel where aisles were moved. They found a giant rats’ nest under the shelving unit of this particular aisle.”

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14. The salad bar isn’t what it seems

The pick and mix salad bar is always one of the most enjoyable parts of a supermarket to visit. But it turns out that all the appetizing choice comes at a cost. According to one Reddit user, employees are told by management to lie about the freshness of its contents to customers.

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In fact, sometimes, the food can sit there for seven days before finally being removed. At least that particular employee’s supermarket appears to prepare their salad bar options from scratch. Because others, it seems, use an easier method. Another former employee revealed that the contents are often simply taken from pre-packaged bags sold elsewhere in the store.

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13. Supermarket brands are essentially the same as the leading competitors

You would expect to enjoy a significant difference in quality when you opt for the big name brand. Especially when it compares to the cheap and cheerful one featuring the store’s name. But that’s certainly not always the case. For the products behind the contrasting packaging are often pretty much the same.

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One ex-employee advised customers to save money on basic items such as eggs and milk by opting for the cheaper brand. Apparently, the low-cost products can be manufactured at the exact same facility as the higher value ones. And whereas sometimes there’s a slight tweak to the recipes, it’s not noticeable enough to justify the difference in price.

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12. They throw out a colossal amount of waste

It might not come as much surprise but supermarkets are not always as environmentally-conscious as they would like you to think. For example, waste is a huge problem and many products are consigned to the dumpster long before their expiration date. And the law doesn’t help matters, either, according to one disgruntled grocery store employee.

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“Coincidentally, we dump out tons and tons of perfectly good milk every week and by law are not allowed to donate it or keep it ourselves,” they said. “Always kinda bothered me that there are families in town who can’t afford groceries and there I was dumping out 80 gallons of milk that was still going to be perfectly safe and fine to eat for another two weeks.”

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11. Even the music played has a purpose

If you’re looking for a feel-good playlist packed with nostalgic and contemporary hits, then forget Spotify. Simply head down to your nearest supermarket, and you’re likely to hear tracks designed to put you in a good mood. Of course, there’s also an ulterior motive to the selection of music on offer.

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“We play a fairly mild mix of music, from classic to current,” an employee revealed on Reddit about tunes in the aisles. “But nothing heavy, and this is to relax customers, slow them down. And hence they spend more time in the store and are likely to spend more.” But that’s perhaps nothing compared to the pressure applied to parents.

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10. Kids are specifically targeted

The parents might hold the purse strings during the family shopping trip. But supermarket giants know that kids can have just as much, if not more, purchasing power. And the stores will do everything they can to entice little ones to throw items in their family shopping carts. How you ask?

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We all know about putting sweets and chocolate next to the till so children can beg their parents for a treat. But that’s not the only tactic aimed at younger customers. Walk down the cereal aisle, and you’ll notice that all the colorful, sugar-packed goods are on the lower shelves. Why? Well, they’re aligned perfectly with kids’ line of vision.

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9. It still pays to check the expiration date

Most of us check the expiration dates when it comes to the free-for-all that is the reduced section. But elsewhere, you would expect the foodstuffs you pick up to be fit for consumption for at least a few days. Yet that’s certainly not always the case, as we’ll now find out.

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Indeed, when it comes to restocking, employees aren’t always diligent as they should be. For some will simply add fresher products in front of those older ones already on the shelves. And this means that when the newer items are snapped up, the older ones become more likely to go, too.

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8. Your ice cream has probably already melted

It’s always a race to get home once you’ve added a tub of ice cream to your shopping cart. But that rush from the supermarket to your home freezer may be all in vain. For it’s likely that your frozen dessert of choice has already previously melted. And it’s not only ice cream that has suffered from being out of the freezer for too long.

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That’s right, because other foods such as frozen vegetables also become thawed after being kept in back rooms for too long. In fact, one Reddit user claimed that such items have probably been thawed and refrozen on several occasions. So who knows what the official count is for your frozen food product.

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7. Employees don’t always do as they say

You’ve spent at least half an hour wandering down the aisles looking for one item in particular without any luck. You ask what appears to be a helpful grocery store employee whether they have any in stock. “I’ll just take a look in the back,” they answer. But do they really?

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Well, probably not. Some employees will simply use the time to enjoy an unscheduled break for a couple of minutes, according to the Reddit thread. Others will actually look for the item in question. However, if it’s in a difficult to reach place, then they may tell the customer that it’s not currently available.

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6. Items left at the till will get thrown away

It’s a regular occurrence. You get to the checkout and realize that you’ve bought one item too many. Or a little one has thrown something into the cart without you noticing. So you give the offending product to the cashier. However, it’s unlikely that product will ever see a supermarket shelf again.

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Indeed, if you don’t want to increase a supermarket’s waste output, then perhaps check your cart before you get to the checkout. For any perishable items, particularly frozen ones, end up being left there. And after a while, they get taken straight to the trash. As one Reddit user said on the thread, “If you give the cashier anything to put back that’s frozen, it is 100% going in the trash. In a very rare circumstance, someone is available to run it back to the freezers so it doesn’t melt.”

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5. The essentials are placed at the back for a reason

There’s a fine art to the supermarket layout. Indeed, everything in the store is strategically placed to increase temptation and maximize profits. That’s why you often have to walk the length of the store just for was a solitary gallon of milk. As we’ll now find out, it’s fairly typical in store land.

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Yes, retailers will deliberately position essentials such as bread, eggs and milk at the back of the store. This means that customers intending to pop in for just one item have to walk past a host of other products. And the hope is that they end up at the checkouts overloaded with impulse purchases.

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4. Rubbish isn’t separated

Bottles, compost, paper, general waste. We all try to do our best at home when it comes to separating our garbage. However, according to one retail worker on Reddit, supermarkets don’t always show the same commitment to recycling. Worse still, this is despite the fact that they like to make you think they do.

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And there appears to be some laziness from the staff who pick up the garbage – and the customers who add to it. The employee said, “Often, the various waste bins are all just mixed together. Because the janitor sure as hell isn’t digging out that bottle you threw in the compost. Everything just goes in the dumpster.”

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3. Deli workers don’t always wash their hands

You would expect food hygiene to be of the utmost importance in every part of a supermarket. But even more so when it comes to the deli counter. However, you might prefer to stick to pre-packaged goods when you read about this next icky grocery store secret.So let’s read on.

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You heard right, it appears as though deli workers aren’t always the most hygienic bunch. “I had so many nasty coworkers who didn’t wash their hands or change gloves all day,” said a disgusted store employee on Reddit. And to make matters worse, they added that some didn’t wear gloves at all.

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2. The motorized carts are often urinated in

Part wheelchair, part shopping trolley, the motorized cart can often be a godsend, particularly to the elderly and the disabled. But these customers may start to think about resorting to online shopping when they learn about how unsanitary they can be. And if they don’t, then they should perhaps prepare to enjoy their hour of shopping inside a toilet on wheels.

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Indeed, in one of the grossest revelations made in the Reddit thread, a grocery store employee claimed that the vehicles are essentially often used as makeshift toilets. “The motorized carts get peed in a lot and they don’t get cleaned. We run a cloth over it. But not like deep-cleaned.”

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1. Its banana boxes are crawling with spiders

Anyone who suffers from arachnophobia should perhaps think twice about reaching into a supermarket’s banana box and grabbing a bunch. Especially, it seems, without clearly looking inside it first. Apparently the crates are a popular haunt for giant spiders. In addition to that, grape boxes can also contain their fair share of critters, too, including scorpions.

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One Reddit user went on to add, “My entire family has worked at a grocery store at one point or another. My grandmother worked in one for 30 years as a deli manager. The amount of stories circulating from her store of black widow spiders coming out of fruit boxes was common.”

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