11 Secrets Supermarkets Don't Want You to Know

Doing your grocery shopping can be like navigating a minefield

Fuse/ Thinkstock
The products at eye level are there for a reason.

Going grocery shopping is so ingrained into our culture that we usually don’t even give it second thought. We grab our shopping list, grab our cart, walk around the store, pick out the food we want, pay, and leave. But in reality, every supermarket is a well-honed machine, hell-bent on getting you to spend as much money as possible without even realizing it, and they’re got a few dirty tricks up their sleeve to make sure that happens.

11 Secrets Supermarkets Don't Want You to Know (Slideshow)

The typical supermarket sells more than 50,000 items, and getting them onto the shelves, keeping them fresh, and selling them before they expire can be a Herculean task. There’s meat and the deli counter on one side, fresh fruit and vegetables on the other, fresh bread in the corner, eggs and dairy in the back, and packaged goods taking up the shelf space in the middle. And while it might all look like chaos, the layouts are actually very scientific, and everything is where it is for a reason.

For example, ever wonder why the dairy cases are all the way in the back of the store? In most cases, it’s because the loading docks are directly on the other side of those refrigerators, so items can go straight into the case from the refrigerated truck without having to be moved through the whole store, minimizing the amount of time the items might have to get warm. And as for why the fruit and vegetables are located right near the entrance? Simple: so the first impression you get is one of health and freshness.

Giving the customer the impression that everything is as fresh as possible is a major priority of supermarkets, as is making as much money as possible, which can lead to some shady practices markets engage in to extend shelf life (pro tip: if it ever looks like there are two overlapping labels on a package of meat, don’t buy it). So read on to learn some secrets that supermarkets would prefer you didn’t know, and remember: stick to your list, don’t shop hungry, and if it doesn’t look right, don’t buy it, no matter what it might say on the label.

The Checkout Lines are Tight for a Reason

Have you ever been waiting on the checkout line when you decide that there’s an item you’d rather leave behind? Good luck finding a place to put it down; they’ve been designed so you make the subconscious decision to just purchase it instead of trying to wedge it behind the Trident.

Shopping Carts are Filthy

Ever seen someone washing the shopping carts? That’s because they don’t. Think about how many other people have touched that handle! We suggest washing your hands before eating anything after shopping, or wiping the handle down before using it.

Click here for 9 more secrets that supermarkets don't want you to know. 


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32 Comments

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I have done the grocery shopping most of the time for our home. One thing I occasionally notice on the shelves is the wrong item and price directly underneath a product such as canned goods. It had been "suggested" by some store employees that "customers move the signs". If that's true, why is it that when you expect to pay 88¢ for a product with the sign bellow says 88¢, it's $1.39. When that occurs now, I tell the cashier what I thought and don't buy the product. Sometimes I tell an employee if he's in the area. Sometimes I move the sign to where it's supposed to be. Some stores are more apt to use this tactic, some less.

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I work retail, two of these are completely wrong, the checkout lanes are not tight so you won't put items own, they are tight because pace is still a premium. Simply give any unwanted items back to the cashier so they can be put away. Secondly, if nest has an overlapping label that doesn't mean there I'd anything wrong , it could have went on or off sale.

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this article is horse poo. you run a supermarket.

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Wow !!! This is earthshaking! The fourth grade news staff must have found this in the archives, as the same crap has appeared over and over again for the past 50 years. Move along folks…nothing to see here.

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A grocery produce department is in a catch22, if they have lots of plentiful produce out all the time some of it will go bad and misting does help keep vegetables moist a little while longer. If they don't then people will think they're not very well-stocked. I supply fresh edamame to grocery stores as it is ready and the best way to keep produce fresh is for people to realize that when something is in season they should buy it and not expect grocery stores to have it all just sitting there waiting for them to waltz in and buy it. On the point about cleanliness CRESBI crates are collapsible crate systems that can solve all of those problems of dirty carts. You can shop with CRESBI crates open and stacked in your cart, put your items in barcodes up and have the checker scan everything right in the crates. You're not only getting a faster checkout and a safer shopping trip for you and your products you'll cut down on the 500 plastic bags each shopper gets each year. And if you're really serious about doing good for the environment and you want to avoid expired meat, choose your items from the meat department and have them wrap it in butcher paper. You avoid styrofoam trays and plastic wrap and you get the freshest cuts!

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A grocery produce department is in a catch22, if they have lots of plentiful produce out all the time some of it will go bad and misting does help keep vegetables moist a little while longer. If they don't then people will think they're not very well-stocked. I supply fresh edamame to grocery stores as it is ready and the best way to keep produce fresh is for people to realize that when something is in season they should buy it and not expect grocery stores to have it all just sitting there waiting for them to waltz in and buy it. On the point about cleanliness CRESBI crates are collapsible crate systems that can solve all of those problems of dirty carts. You can shop with CRESBI crates open and stacked in your cart, put your items in barcodes up and have the checker scan everything right in the crates. You're not only getting a faster checkout and a safer shopping trip for you and your products you'll cut down on the 500 plastic bags each shopper gets each year. And if you're really serious about doing good for the environment and you want to avoid expired meat, choose your items from the meat department and have them wrap it in butcher paper. You avoid styrofoam trays and plastic wrap and you get the freshest cuts!

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Albertsons is known to practice UNSAFE food Handling for over 30 years, have worked for them and left because of UNSAFE food handling in ALL Departments.

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I have READ the other comments of those IN the supermarket industry. These people will NEVER take ACCOUNTABILITY for the INEQUITIES. Everything wrong with their supermarket is OUR fault! and I am so fucking sick of it!!! I would LOVE to get all these people in an ARENA type setting and tell them EXACTLY what I think of them! (A) they HATE their jobs! so they HATE you. But if tomorrow their supermarket closed these people would be the first to WHINE about not having it anymore. In NYC most supermarket positions are held by MINORITIES (and i am not trying to be racist here) it's simply a fact and these people GET OFF on INTIMIDATING white people, well the ones that let them get away with it. I mean lets call a spade a spade, they treat everyone like shit. lol Probably the NICEST employees you will deal with in a supermarket is the PRODUCE dept. All the rest are MISERABLE, PISSED OFF, ANGRY, FAT, OBTRUSIVE people. I mean the next time you are in a supermarket " just look at the person they have running the front end " they look they are working for their welfare check. Look at the managers? same. Not all there are a few good ones left, but you can see that it is getting to them too. ZOMBIES in aprons lol.

If you are a consumer and you SHOP in these places you KNOW that all these people crying " the article is false " is nothing but a bunch of LIARS. trk387

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The typical supermarket sells more than 50,000 items, and getting them onto the shelves, keeping them fresh, and selling them before they expire can be a Herculean task. This is simply due to LAZINESS and CHEAPNESS. I was RAISED in a supermarket from age 8 (its complicated) until I was about 18. This is not a big task it's simply HAVE the PEOPLE to do it! In my day 70's 80's (God I sound old) people took (omg) do I dare say it INVENTORY. The inventory check was to ORDER more stock and to REMOVE food that would become expired. Technically it is ILLEGAL for a store to sell out dated merchandise. It is THEIR responsibility to make SURE those items before they expire are REMOVED. Whoever this reporter is knows NOTHING about supermarkets other than his daily experiences. There is ANOTHER scam that the supermarkets pull off because Joe Jane consumer doesn't care. The SIGNS. The sale sings! (A) they have signs but NOTHING to sell! I have asked several managers in my supermarket and they all say the same thing " we order it they don't send it " this is BULLSHIT! Never mind their should be STOCK in the back room, that is what it's for. (B) They place the PRODUCT NO WHERE near the sign! What they do is place a sign, and take a much more EXPENSIVE product and place it with that sign. This is done to CON the consumer into believing that the (food) they are buying is on sale. The signs should MATCH up with the product! and this is what KILLS me. If you (watch) like I do, I am a HAWK for this shit, they will BLAME you for not reading the sign properly. LOL. Yup it's your fault that they placed a product that has NOTHING to do with the sale not theirs. Also, back to the laziness, the will FORGET to remove sale signs and you think your getting a sale and the sale has ended. THIS is your fault also not theirs. They NEVER EVER apologize for this. So, if you're a law person like me, you have to go the (courtesy counter) and FIGHT with them, the get the manager and argue with them (which is nerve racking) ANYONE who shops in a supermarket today should be HIGH and DRUNK to deal with the experience. lol Anyway, BETTER make sure you READ those signs PROPERLY, you have to CSI (read the oz, the name, the bar code, everything, make sure that sign COLLATES with the product or they will make you feel like a MORON and they GET OFF on doing this. Because you have TAKEN their time now from their cell phone call, lotto tickets, conversation with co workers, or bathroom and cigarette breaks. I KNOW what a courtesy counter should be like, HOT chicks with huge smiles on their faces and WANT to help you. Not pasty face trolls who HATE their jobs and HATE you because you need them to do their jobs.

I always ask myself " how the hell did we go from the days when people would come running out to serve you with smiles and kindness, to " yeah what the f do you want? " trk387

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The typical supermarket sells more than 50,000 items, and getting them onto the shelves, keeping them fresh, and selling them before they expire can be a Herculean task. This is simply due to LAZINESS and CHEAPNESS. I was RAISED in a supermarket from age 8 (its complicated) until I was about 18. This is not a big task it's simply HAVE the PEOPLE to do it! In my day 70's 80's (God I sound old) people took (omg) do I dare say it INVENTORY. The inventory check was to ORDER more stock and to REMOVE food that would become expired. Technically it is ILLEGAL for a store to sell out dated merchandise. It is THEIR responsibility to make SURE those items before they expire are REMOVED. Whoever this reporter is knows NOTHING about supermarkets other than his daily experiences. There is ANOTHER scam that the supermarkets pull off because Joe Jane consumer doesn't care. The SIGNS. The sale sings! (A) they have signs but NOTHING to sell! I have asked several managers in my supermarket and they all say the same thing " we order it they don't send it " this is BULLSHIT! Never mind their should be STOCK in the back room, that is what it's for. (B) They place the PRODUCT NO WHERE near the sign! What they do is place a sign, and take a much more EXPENSIVE product and place it with that sign. This is done to CON the consumer into believing that the (food) they are buying is on sale. The signs should MATCH up with the product! and this is what KILLS me. If you (watch) like I do, I am a HAWK for this shit, they will BLAME you for not reading the sign properly. LOL. Yup it's your fault that they placed a product that has NOTHING to do with the sale not theirs. Also, back to the laziness, the will FORGET to remove sale signs and you think your getting a sale and the sale has ended. THIS is your fault also not theirs. They NEVER EVER apologize for this. So, if you're a law person like me, you have to go the (courtesy counter) and FIGHT with them, the get the manager and argue with them (which is nerve racking) ANYONE who shops in a supermarket today should be HIGH and DRUNK to deal with the experience. lol Anyway, BETTER make sure you READ those signs PROPERLY, you have to CSI (read the oz, the name, the bar code, everything, make sure that sign COLLATES with the product or they will make you feel like a MORON and they GET OFF on doing this. Because you have TAKEN their time now from their cell phone call, lotto tickets, conversation with co workers, or bathroom and cigarette breaks. I KNOW what a courtesy counter should be like, HOT chicks with huge smiles on their faces and WANT to help you. Not pasty face trolls who HATE their jobs and HATE you because you need them to do their jobs.

I always ask myself " how the hell did we go from the days when people would come running out to serve you with smiles and kindness, to " yeah what the f do you want? " trk387

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Two things food packaged do to confuse you. Smaller portions now at same price=higher priced but the pasckaging is deceptively apearing to be the same size. Secondly the larger packages are not necesarily less expensive. We were trained about "Large economy size."

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ANOTHER OFF THE WALL DEAD WRONG IDIOTIC ARTICLE

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I have been in grocery business for 50 years and this article is bs

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Expiration dates and 'Sell By' dates are similar in typeface and placement. Different ink woould help.

Why do the stroes take dolly after dolly of FROZEN FOODS and just park them in the middle of the aisl. Nobody near even trying to place them on the shelves in the freezers? You open a frozen dinner and soon know it has thawed completely, them been re-frozen. (Everything on the same side of the tray, with a smear across the film cover.)

They need to hire people who know that they are handling FOOD, not clotjhing!

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Most of the "secrets" are just good merchandising. All retail stores use similar techniques to sell product at optimum prices. As for expired meats and produce I suggest the writer go to the back prep areas of grocers and check out the waste of expired foods that are tossed. These depts. are high shrink due to the nature of the product and is a prime reason the prices are high.

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BIGGEST SECRET of ALL- Jeff Daummer supply's their MEAT---all over!!!

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This is especially true of Kroger...leaving product outside of coolers for hours on end. Extending the life by relabeling product dates. As a former manager we were forced to do this and MUCH MUCH more.

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I have worked in grocery business for over 15 years. This article is NOT truthful. If this is what you are finding in your store your must be shopping in some really gross place. Grocery stores are held to an extremely high standard when it comes to Food safety and sanitation. Quit trying to scare the public and actually have facts not made up crap.

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Ditto- Most of this is a LIE!

and if yu stick to buying NAMEBRANDS and not thei Stores brand? You better off for quality control..

At Our Wal Mart? The Greeter also pulls out Shopping carts at 5 at a time and Wipes the Handles down as well ..and we also Bring our Own Black Cloth Bags in to use and not Plastic..The same for Getting Drinks at Fast Food Places> Don't accept Styrofoam , Paper Cups and Paper Wrpagging and Carboard Boxes only. and just use 2 napkins for gloves pushing the cartuntil you can grab the Clean Wieps and wipe them down..

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You didn't say which part isn't true.
I was always told the milk is in the back of a store like Wal Mart and others is so you have to walk past many items to get there.

And the handles on shopping carts are totally nasty.
I do not like putting something I am going to eat in the same place a baby has had a soiled diaper or drooled all over.

These baskets should be sprayed down at least once a day.

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I to have worked in a suoermarket for a very long time and i agree these things they are reporting are false and they do wash the shopping carts at least our stores did they dont see that because it is done over night when there are less customewrs they are pressure washed also wheels fixed and so are all the carts in the store brought out and cleaned ..

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If you castigate practices that extend or optimize how much food is resused instead of being thrown away, then you are an egregious example of an ethnocentric snob, who thinks NOTHING of the fact that there are literally BILLIONS of people who would LOVE to have a fraction of what you throw away because of some mythical "expiration date".

That is HYPOCRISY and ELITISM at it's finest.

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Having worked in a supermarket it is more the norm to NOT wash the lettuce and other vegetable ingredients of the "on the go" salad. I would personally NEVER buy a premade salad form a grocery store. I am referring to the LARGE grocery chains. Considering where the lettuce and ingredients come from .... and bacteria, be safe and bring it home and WASH it. Of course have the dressing to the side id you must be a premade salad.

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Not only is meat restickered it is repacked. They will repackage it with the BROWN hamburger meat INSIDE and the pink hamburger meat on the OUTSIDE. So when you get home the INSIDE of the hamburger is BROWN. It's OLD hamburger in the INSIDE and that is ILLEGAL to repackage the meat in this way. TAKE IT BACK!

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They spray brown meat with an enzine that makes it turn red again(it's legal) But it 's only on the outside,thats why it's still brown on the inside..YUCK

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Wrong=O buckwheat. Has to do with oxygenation.

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you are right. I have seen it done at our supermarket. small town I have gotten so sick more than once because they do this and they lie and say they don't. and I thought everyone had to wear plastic gloves when handling raw meat. they don't here. see that too and other places as well. a lot of the markets are unsafe with their foods. some of the canned goods are so old they can say your name when you pass by. people here just laugh about it. I think it is awful. but I try not to buy my meat here. my daughter has a Kroger near her in ten and I am in ky but I love to get meat there. it is so good and it tastes so much different than here. this is sickening for sure. now I understand why our mcdonalds meats are always yucky.

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Wrong.
"6. Why is pre-packaged ground beef red on the outside and sometimes grayish-brown on the inside?
These color differences do not indicate that the meat is spoiled or old. As discussed earlier, fresh cut meat is purplish in color. Oxygen from the air reacts with meat pigments to form a bright red color which is usually seen on the surface of ground beef purchased in the supermarket. The interior of the meat may be grayish-brown due to the lack of oxygen penetrating below the surface."

Source
<a href="http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/meat-preparation/the-color-of-meat-and-poultry/the-color-of-meat-and-poultry/ct_index" title="http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/meat-preparation/the-color-of-meat-and-poultry/the-color-of-meat-and-poultry/ct_index">http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/ge...</a>

lafoodsitter's picture

i guess to some of the "secrets" that are not so secret it just requires a bit of common sense!! one really cannot believe that because you see the fruits & vegs all sprinkled with water it means it's fresh! let alone clean!!!! it is a harsh reality i agree! it only takes good practise from our consumer's point of view!

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A second comment. I posted a comment and can't find a place to view my comment or anyone else's. What's up with that?!!??

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