The shelves of popular supermarkets are more and more reminiscent of food exhibitions, and each shopping trip for the buyer turns into an endless argument with himself: what to put in the basket and what product to avoid, what is good for the body and what is danger? The assortment of supermarkets is so wide that it is difficult not to get confused and not to buy too much. But in the shop windows there may be products that definitely do not belong in our refrigerators.
European and American researchers now and then regularly compile lists of the most harmful products from supermarkets. As a rule, they mention processed meats that contain too much sodium, unhealthy fats, preservatives and so-called empty calories, stuffed with “chemistry” sauces, overflowing sugars and E-additives in baked goods, as well as drinks with dyes. In our stores, all this is also not uncommon, but the list of dangerous foods from domestic supermarkets is by no means limited to these products. In our stores, under the guise of fresh goods, it is easy to buy even what should have been thrown into the trash a long time ago.
Prepared food from supermarkets: salvation or danger
Probably, many of us either often buy ready-made food ourselves in the grocery and culinary departments of supermarkets, or know people who at least sometimes eat ready-made purchased dishes. This practice is common throughout the world.
Prepared food appeared on the shelves of grocery stores because there was a demand for it. In addition, such products (provided that they are fresh, prepared according to the rules, in compliance with sanitary standards) have many advantages.
Advantages of buying prepared food:
- saving time on cooking, which is important for busy people;
- being able to eat gourmet meals without being able or able to cook oneself;
- variety on the menu: in supermarkets, the choice of prepared food is usually quite rich;
- saving money: home-cooked meals are not always cheaper than store-bought meals, and many supermarkets practice substantial discounts on prepared meals at certain hours;
- portioning: the ability to buy exactly as much as needed for lunch or dinner;
- you can create an individual menu for each family member;
- a convenient option for lunches at work or meals on a business trip.
But despite all the advantages of purchased food, many consumers categorically refuse to buy ready-made meals, arguing their position with a few, but very significant disadvantages of such a service. Firstly, when buying food in a store, it is difficult to predict what the dish was prepared from: how fresh the food is in it, what quality meat, fish or vegetables were used, what the sauce was made from. Secondly, for the buyer it always remains a mystery who prepared the dish and under what conditions. For example, when buying such food, we will never know whether the dishes and food are washed well before cooking, how often the frying oil is changed, and finally how neat and healthy the person who prepared the food for sale was.
Third, doubts may arise about the freshness of the food sold. Not everyone will be able to distinguish today's stew from yesterday's warmed-up meat by eye. Moreover, culinary workers, as a rule, know many secrets on how to "reanimate" yesterday's food and make it look freshly cooked.
The degree of danger from eating ready-made food completely depends on how much the store values its name. It is widely believed that it is safer to buy prepared food in large supermarkets than in small shops near the house. Meanwhile, the scandals associated with various trading networks, which now and then regularly pop up, make it possible to doubt the validity of such a judgment.
Which products are better to avoid
stores. Of course, it is impossible to completely abandon the purchase of food products, but there are still ways to protect yourself and your loved ones. To do this, you need to know what you can and cannot buy in supermarkets.
Domestic experts have long named a list of the most dangerous products in the supermarket that you should never buy. They are:
- prepared salads;
- meat and cheese cuts;
- minced meat;
- grilled chicken;
- smoked fish and poultry;
- shop cooking;
- baked goods, sweets and other store-packed products;
- cakes and desserts with cream.
And this food is on the list of the most dangerous products from the supermarket for a number of reasons, which will be discussed later. Did you know that buying most ready-made meals in any supermarket is a kind of lottery, because there is almost always a risk of poisoning. The fact is that in the vast majority of cases, retail outlets do not adhere to the officially established shelf life of prepared food, because it is financially unprofitable. Of the cold appetizers, pâtés, fish products, meat aspic dishes, jellied meats and salads spoil the fastest. By the way, according to professional chefs, most ready-made salads can be stored no more than 30 minutes, and hot dishes up to 2 hours. True, supermarkets adhere to completely different standards. The officially allowed storage time frame for culinary products is 12-48 hours (depending on the type of product). A rather short shelf life for fried fish and meat, boiled cauliflower and other vegetables after heat treatment. Dishes in sauce last a little longer than dry ones, but there is also a certain danger in this: in supermarkets, stale food is often masked with sauce. Stores can sell smoked poultry for the longest time - up to 72 hours. Among the desserts, the least storage-resistant products are those with fatty creams, whipped cream, mousses, and jellies.
Meanwhile, in practice, these norms are not always followed. Salads, for example, can show off behind a glass showcase until victorious, that is, until an unpleasant smell comes from them. By the way, for the first time after the expiration of an acceptable shelf life, they can still remain quite tasty, although already dangerous to eat (especially for young children), because no one has canceled the chemical processes and the reproduction of bacteria in food. Having tasted expired food, you can be poisoned for a long time in the hospital.
What are the dangers of products purchased with a promotion
On the eve of the holidays, many stores delight customers with various promotions and discounts. And food departments with promotions like “three for the price of two” or “buy one, and the second one for free” are also held during the inter-holiday periods. "Why would they?" - some naive buyers are surprised and quickly fill their baskets with promotional products. And, as a rule, they make a huge mistake. As experts explain, thanks to such promotions, stores usually get rid of what it is high time to throw away. The promotion does not include goods that are quickly swept off the shelves even on ordinary days.
Researchers of the food market regularly find confirmation of the facts that zero-waste production is well established in our supermarkets. That is, the main task of the store is to sell all the goods at any price. This is how we came up with the concept of “resuscitation” of spoiled products, which then become promotional.
How supermarkets reanimate spoiled food
There are many ways to restore food to an illusory freshness. And some types of food lend themselves to “resuscitation” more easily than others. These are sausages, semi-finished products, smoked fish, caviar, cooking, pastries, sweets, drinks. By the way, store cooking is often the most “last refuge” for the majority of illiquid goods. At best, second-rate products are used, at worst - with a long expired shelf life.
Rewriting the expiration date
“Resuscitation” of an expired product is to give it a new life and extend the expiration date in any way. The easiest way to do this is by simply re-gluing a sticker with the production date (often just over the factory one). Cookies, sweets, drinks and cosmetics are usually “rejuvenated” in this way. As a rule, before the holidays, such goods are formed into gift sets, packaged in bright beautiful wrappers (so that the production date is not visible), decorated with large bows and sold “at a very favorable price”.
The date of manufacture of processed cheese, sauces, sour cream, milk and many other products is “corrected” with acetone or cologne. Some products remain without an expiration date and inattentive buyers do not even notice this. On others, dexterous sellers are churning out new numbers. This trick usually works with hermetically sealed goods and products, the appearance of which does not yet betray its "old age". By the way, you need to be very careful with foreign-made goods. Sometimes in supermarkets stickers with a translation are glued to the container, on which, oddly enough, the expiration date differs from the factory one.
In order not to get spoiled, you should carefully study the product label: it should clearly show the production date and shelf life indicated by the manufacturer directly on the original packaging.
Culinary masterpieces from... waste
The main risks of store-bought food are usually associated with store cooking. To be more precise, with the quality of ingredients, methods of preparation and methods of storage of finished dishes. More than once, the facts of the use of expired products have surfaced, when their suspicious taste and smell were masked by a large amount of spices and sauces, and fried chicken fillet with an appetizing crust of breadcrumbs inside turned out to be a piece of spoiled meat.
By the way, if the officially permitted expiration date of fried foods has expired, they can be reheated and displayed as fresh. Dried cutlets are also warmed up and generously decorated with sauce and herbs and then offered to us as "fresh from the pan."
When is the bath day in supermarkets?
Do you know what they do with old, slimy goods? When the signs of old age are not yet very noticeable, the products are simply wiped with rags soaked in vegetable oil. If it is not possible to revive the goods in this way, the food is sent to a bath with a special solution that eliminates mucus and the smell of rotten meat. After that, the product looks like new, but poisons like a real poison.
Spoiled, moldy sausages are thoroughly washed with various detergents, then lubricated with vegetable oil for shine and sent back for sale. If you can’t return the presentation of the sausage using this method, it doesn’t matter either, because there is another way of “resuscitation” - slicing. The main thing is to carefully chop the sausage, put it in a tray, pack it with a film and stick a sticker on top, on which, of course, indicate the date of packaging of the sausage, thereby turning the spoiled product into a fresh snack. The same tricks are used with smoked fish and cheese. If the cheese already looks so bad that it is not suitable for slicing, then shavings are made from it, which is then sold as an addition to pizza or hot sandwiches. That is why experts strongly recommend not to buy sliced food in supermarkets.
Store-bought salads by weight usually contain everything that is no longer possible to sell even to the most naive and least picky buyers. The vast majority of salad ingredients are stale products, often already pretty rotten. Even more dangerous is that expired preserves and saltiness are often added to vegetable snacks (mushrooms, corn, peas, salted vegetables, herring ), which can cause severe poisoning and botulism.
Even if the salad was originally prepared from fresh vegetables, after the expiration of the shelf life, it is also “revive”. The secret is very simple: seasoned vegetables are seasoned with opaque sauces that hide the tired appearance of the ingredients and mask their taste. By the way, many chains use sauces of their own production for dressing. And this is another opportunity to "write off" the stale.
The sanitary life of Olivier is no more than 12 hours, but in some supermarkets, a salad beloved by many can be sold for 3 days. At the initial stage of resuscitation, vinegar and more greens can be added to the dish. If the "antiquity" of the dish becomes noticeable externally, it is simply thrown into a colander and... washed under running water. Then a fresh batch of sauce is added and, voila, we have a fresh, freshly prepared salad with a new cooking date.
Caviar with potassium permanganate
If someone thinks that expired caviar cannot be “revived”, then they are very mistaken. Banks of red caviar stale after the holidays are reanimated with the help of... potassium permanganate. To do this, the jars are opened, the contents are dumped into a common container and the caviar is washed with a solution of potassium permanganate. Then the product is packaged in plastic containers - and on the counter. In order not to get poisoned by the delicacy, experts advise never to buy caviar in store packaging. Only in branded banks, which indicate the manufacturer's data and the date of issue.
Naturally died fish
Spoiled fish is one of the most dangerous foods for humans. But this fact does not stop the owners of supermarkets and they easily slip us dead meat under the guise of a fresh product. And this is how they do it. If the fish in the aquarium dies, it is not thrown away, but caught from the vessel, cleaned and first put up for sale as chilled, and then frozen or put into semi-finished products.
But even if you buy live fish from an aquarium, it is also quite possible to become a victim of fraud. Clever entrepreneurs deliberately do not saturate the aquarium with the necessary amount of oxygen. Under such conditions, the carcass of the fish stretches the water and due to this it increases its weight, sometimes even by 30 percent. Thus, the buyer pays extra for ordinary water. Something similar happens with frozen seafood. In supermarkets, they are often specially defrosted and frozen several times in order to “build up” a thick ice crust. The result is the same: you buy a product and pay for ice.
Mixing fresh and yesterday's
Another common store culinary trick is mixing fresh produce with yesterday's leftovers. This trick works great with side dishes and salads. Outwardly, such dishes, as a rule, look very appetizing, meanwhile, fermentation processes are rapidly going on in them and bacteria that cause poisoning multiply.
Tricks with chicken
If fresh chicken was not sold either yesterday or today, then, most likely, tomorrow it will return to the counter of the same store, but already in the form of grilled and generously seasoned with spices. Not sold in this form? Then she has another chance - to become minced meat and, in the company of fragrant seasonings, get into pies, pancakes, meatballs and even pilaf.
Stale "fresh" chicken can continue its life in another way - as an ingredient in one of the salads prepared in store cooking. To get rid of the unpleasant smell of old meat, it is simply boiled in water with onions and spices.
Smoked meats? No, don't!
Another great way to mask the staleness of poultry, meat or fish is smoking. The smell of smoke and a skillfully selected mixture of spices interrupts not only the suspicious smell, but also the taste of the old product. In addition, you should not think that old products for "rebirth" fall into a real smokehouse. In stores, they are "smoked" in a cheaper, faster and more affordable way - with the help of "chemistry". Spoiled meat and fish are simply poured with a special solution, which gives the food a characteristic golden color and smoky flavor. Doctors have been talking about the dangers of such mixtures for “smoking” for quite a long time, but still there are daredevils who are ready to buy fake smoked meats stuffed with chemicals, which may contain the causative agent of botulism and other deadly diseases.
Dangerous ground meat
Homemade ground meat is an ideal way for supermarkets to sell anything that is not sold in one piece. In the best case, skins, small bones and many other parts will get into the company with juicy fresh meat. At worst, everything that could not be sold before, and for which there are no other methods of “resuscitation”, will go to minced meat. Perhaps, it is not necessary to talk about the dangers of such food for a long time.
How many lives do pastries have?
Baking is no better. The first violations can be even at the stage of kneading the dough - if the supermarket has its own bakery. Eggs that are beaten and not the first freshness, old or accidentally spilled flour on the floor, expired nuts, dried fruits and seeds can be used.
If fragrant crispy buns did not find their buyer on the day of baking, then this is not a guarantee that they will definitely be written off and sent to the trash. The product usually has a different fate: stale pastries can simply be ground and made from it, for example, the well-known Potato cake.
Cakes should also be bought with caution: the production date on the packaging in supermarkets can be changed several times before the product is sold. The danger of an expired cake is that the cream deteriorates very quickly and can cause severe poisoning. By the way, cookies sold by weight also live in the store for more than one life. Often, baked goods are repackaged monthly, each time indicating a new date of manufacture on the container.
Stale bread is also not thrown away. It goes either to breadcrumbs, or fresh products are baked from it. For this, old loaves are soaked in water and added to fresh dough. If the bread you bought suspiciously quickly stales and crumbles a lot, then most likely you are “lucky” to buy just such pastries.
Ways to protect yourself from low-quality products
Buy food only in stores with an impeccable reputation
This is a universal and main rule. It is safer to buy perishable products in retail chains where strict quality control of goods is observed, and where there is always a busy flow of buyers (due to this, the goods do not have time to stay on the shelves).
Pay attention to the storage conditions of goods
According to sanitary standards, different types of finished products should be stored in different temperature conditions, that is, in different display cases. For example, dishes with creams are kept at temperatures up to 6 degrees Celsius, chilled fish and meat at temperatures up to +2.
If a supermarket sells sushi or rolls, then they should not contain raw fish - only salted or smoked. You should definitely not buy a delicacy if it is not packed in branded packaging indicating the manufacturer, date and time of manufacture, as well as the shelf life. By the way, such food should be stored at a temperature of 2 to 6 degrees Celsius for 6-72 hours (depending on the type). How to check the temperature in the showcase? Very simple. According to the rules, there must be a thermometer in it, moreover, it is placed so that the buyer can see its indicators.
Check the expiration date
Each prepared dish should have a card next to it with information about the manufacturer, date and time of preparation, and the deadline for its sale. Dishes made from ground ingredients can be stored in a showcase for up to 12 hours, chilled fish and meat - up to 24. But if there is no information card near the container, then eating such food can be hazardous to health. Another nuance that is important to remember when checking the expiration date of store cooking: the more preservatives in the food, the longer it is stored. At best, manufacturers can extend the freshness of food with spices and salt, at worst, with the help of synthetic E-additives.
Frozen ready-to-cook products should be stored only in freezers at temperatures from 0 to minus 20 degrees. But when deciding to buy frozen food, you should remember that the warmer it is in the freezer, the faster the food spoils, but at the same time, the colder it is, the worse the taste and the less useful properties remain in the product.
Do not hesitate to ask for a document confirming the quality of the goods
At the request of the buyer, the seller is obliged to present a document confirming the freshness of the product: a declaration of conformity and a bill of lading (it must contain date and time of production, shelf life). Some manufacturers on the packaging of products indicate only the date of packaging, but do not mention the time of manufacture of the product itself. According to the Consumer Rights Protection Act, this is a gross violation. The absence of this information on the packaging can be regarded as evidence of the stale product.
Damaged product can always be returned
Section 18 of the Consumer Protection Act guarantees customers the right to file a claim with a store that sold defective goods. The client has the right to demand that low-quality products be removed from the shelves and reimburse him for the cost of the expired product. By the way, in many stores they cunningly warn customers that promotional goods cannot be returned or exchanged. In reality, such statements are illegal.
Everyone sometimes has a state or circumstances that develop when there is no strength, desire or time to cook. Then your favorite supermarket comes to the rescue with its large assortment of ready-made food. But sometimes such impulses end in very deplorable consequences.
Of course, one cannot categorically state that goods from this group in all supermarkets are necessarily expired, that the products packaged by the store itself have necessarily undergone “resuscitation”. However, it is better to remember the advice of experts and, going shopping again, be very vigilant and not make impulsive purchases, no matter how tempting they may seem.