Is there a statute of limitations on High School pranks? In 1982, Beverly Hills High classmate Danny H. placed his dead snake, a’ la rigor mortis, into the cafeteria’s community condiments. Ketchup anyone?
Danny’s snake came to mind this week when I missed my favorite snack, Whole Foods Organic dried mango.
“We’re out of stock on that, but you can find dried mango in the bulk items,” the clerk told me.
He might as well have said community ketchup. I eyed the bulk bins holding everything from grains to candy to mango slices. “Don’t people reach in there without the scoop?”
“You wouldn’t believe what people do,” he shook his head sadly.
I doubt I’d ever find a Diamondback in the granola bulk bin, but I’ve seen people helping themselves to plenty of “free samples” and that makes me wonder. Did they just sneeze? What bacteria lurks on their fingertips? How often do they clean those bins anyway?
The good news is, according to the FDA safety recall website, last year’s Whole Foods Market bulk bin items recall had nothing to do with contamination in the store.
Still, like the salad bar, soup bar and olive bar, the use of bulk bins relies on the honor system. Thou shalt not steal from Whole Foods. Or more importantly, thou shall not gross out BH Mom.
Bulk bins can help us avoid waste and achieve my dream of going plastic free. In some markets, customers even bring their own cloth bags or glass containers to fill them with bulk bin contents.
So what’s stopping me?
A few years ago I ate from the salad bar of another market and became sick. Can’t-be-more-than-three-feet-from-the-bathroom sick. Are my germaphobic tendencies getting the better of me?
Arcenio, who manages Whole Foods Beverly Hills Bulk Food reassured me, “I watch over the bins and if I see someone reach in, I stop them.”
“Don’t they get defensive?”
“I don’t care,” he said. “If customers see people putting their hands in the food, they won’t want to buy it.”
Chris, the Customer Relations Team Leader told me he caught a woman sampling an olive at the olive bar. “When I asked her to stop she told me it’s only one olive and started to give me a hard time. So I kicked her out.”
My new superheroes Arcenio and Chris believe shoppers should treat food at the Olive Bar and bulk bins like their own refrigerator. They wouldn’t want someone randomly sticking their hands in it.
Blame it on that bout of sickness I had apres salad bar. In my opinion, markets need to take one more step. Hand Sanitizer stations. Most markets have Sanitizing wipes for carts, but what about for your hands? If customers were more diligent about clean hands, I’d be more confident about buying dried mango out of the bulk bins.