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VOL. 36 | NO. 46 | Friday, November 16, 2012

Supermarket secrets: Are you buying?

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Not long ago, Dr. Oz, a program that airs weekday afternoons on ABC, did an episode titled, Five Secrets Your Supermarket Doesn’t Want You to Know. It got my attention. I’ve been shopping for many years and wanted to what I’d been missing.

I don’t know if you were able to watch it, but I didn’t see it; I just happened to run across the article while perusing the Internet. So if you didn’t see it, I’m going to tell you because obviously these are things EVERY shopper should know!

The article said Dr. Oz, food safety inspector Roy Costa and registered dietitian Frances Largeman-Roth revealed these five “risky” secrets:

  • Look for the cold line: When buying eggs, do you take the carton from the top and check it for cracked ones? (I do.) If you do, good, Costa says, that isn’t good enough. He says to buy the eggs under the “cold line.” This line is painted on the wall of the dairy section cooler. Retailers aren’t supposed to stack eggs above this line, where the temperature isn’t sufficiently cold. Well, I’ve never noticed the cold line, but I usually do grab a carton toward the bottom because I know it has to be colder. Anyway, Dr. Oz says to look for the cold line and get a carton closer to the bottom. I gotta find that line!
  • Never buy meat to freeze: This one is strange. Costa says meat that’s shipped to the supermarket is already frozen. It’s then thawed before it’s put on display. When you take that meat home, you have no idea how long it’s been in the display case. His advice is to cook the meat the day you buy it. (I’ll save my remarks about this one for later.)
  • Beware of the use-by date: Retailers are responsible for stamping the date on the foods they process and package, Costa says. That means they can change the date as many times as they want until the product sells. Retailers will sometimes continue to try to sell a product until it looks green and moldy, he adds. I’ve never heard this before. I guess they have kept that a pretty good secret. However, I have gotten home with something only to open it and find it’s already spoiled. Maybe that was due to “date changing.” I don’t know how to get around this one. I usually grab the item with the longest expiration date on it, but who knows? I could be getting the already-expired one.
  • Avoid the manager’s special: That’s a no-brainer. There are some things out there to which we are wise, and this happens to be one of them. But thanks for the heads-up. Oh, Largeman-Roth says to “run, not walk, away from them.” (Giddy up, little doggie!)
  • Shop on Wednesdays: Wednesdays are the days many supermarkets start their sales, so the shelves are fully stocked with fresh product, Largeman-Roth says. Avoid shopping on Mondays. Supermarkets get most of their deliveries on weekdays, not weekends, which means the food in the store on Mondays has likely been there since Friday or earlier. Unfortunately, this is not possible for me.

There you have it, five secrets that are no longer, well, secret.

Want my take on these observations?

Do those people work? Like Monday through Friday, 8 to 5 (and sometimes later)? Do they have kids with soccer games, basketball or dance practice, homework and baths? Do they have church on Wednesday evenings, toddlers, grandchildren or ailing parents at home? I could go on, but I’m sure you’ve already answered “yes” to at least one of the above.

That said, this is helpful information, and there might be a few of you who grab the eggs on top. Still, have you ever eaten scrambled eggs for breakfast then had to rush to the hospital because you didn’t get the “cold-line” ones? Geez.

I was raised in the country with sitting hens and I’m still here. As for the meat, I used to shop for two weeks at a time, freezing the meat until needed.

Again – still here.

Anyway, end of story. Take the information and use it accordingly. Remember, someone always has something to say about what we’ve been doing wrong most of our life. My grandmothers used to keep butter on the counter in a covered butter dish. Un-refrigerated. Did they not know they could have killed me?

Here’s a quick and easy cheesy spread you can safely serve to your family and guests this upcoming holiday season!

Cranberry Chili Cheese Spread

2 packages (eight ounces each) of cream cheese, softened
1 can (14 ounces) of whole-berry cranberry sauce
1 can (4 ounces) of chopped green chilies, drained
1 green onion, diced
1 tablespoon of lime juice
1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon of chili powder

Place the softened cream cheese on a serving plate. In a small bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients. Spoon it over the cream cheese. Serve with crackers.

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