Safety Precautions When Purchasing Salvaged Goods
People often ask if salvage stores are safe.
Salvage and discount grocery stores are safe as they are inspected and regulated like regular stores. Most salvage stores get their merchandise from reclamation centers that contain items that the regular stores won’t or can’t sell. These centers discard dangerous merchandise such as cracked glass or leaking plastic. Regardless, the buyer should always beware and being knowledgable of the following information is important to know before shopping surplus stores.
First, check that the store looks and smells clean. Although bacteria can still grow in a clean yet un-sanitized environment, cleanliness can be an indication of their food handling policies. If dirt and bugs are visible, it’s best to move on.
Then, avoid purchasing any of the items on the upcoming list.
Foods to Avoid Buying
If the can looks swollen or the lid is curved instead of flat, that is an indication of growing bacteria within.
This damage may have allowed bacteria to enter the can.
If liquid can get out, then bacteria can get in.
Packages should be in their original condition. An exception to this could be a cereal box where the inside packaging is still completely intact and only the box was dented.
Avoid places that keep higher temperatures in their display cases – look for thermometers to be sure.
Remember that these dates are often used on more perishable foods and are different than “best before” dates. Foods with this dating may have begun to spoil once this date has passed. Buying the same day is fine, but they should be taken directly home and cooked or frozen that day or the next.
Avoid buying any frozen foods kept at higher temperatures. Avoid buying foods that may have thawed and then become refrozen. This is often hard to spot. One sign would be stains on the outside of a package, which could have come from a melted product. Thawed foods present an atmosphere for bacterial growth (see below).
Don’t take chances by buying any fresh foods that look or smell off, this food most likely contains harmful bacteria. Foods that have gone bad can possibly look and smell fine, but foods that are fine will not look or smell bad unless bacteria is growing.
If unsure, ask the manager. New labels may neglect to list everything, such as the proper ingredients for food allergies or lot numbers needed on the chance that there is a recall.