Thursday, June 3, 2010

Can free samples make you sick?

Free Samples at the Old Farmers Almanac Genera...Image by iirraa via Flickr

After reading my previous post on free samples at Whole Foods Market in Paramus, a friend sent me an e-mail:

"Meaning to tell you, some weeks ago I stopped at Jerry's and had lots of samples, including bread in balsamic vinegar. I think that's what made me sick that night. Those little bowls of vinegar and oil must be bacteria hives."
Interesting. I have never had a problem after eating free samples at Jerry's in Englewood or any other store, or never linked how I felt to those samples or the possibility of bacteria. Jerry's is well-patronized and the samples go fast -- especially around lunch time. 

Neither balsamic vinegar nor olive oil require refrigeration. Would bacteria grow from their exposure to air?

Jerry's puts out a lot of different cheeses, so I have made it a habit to carry pills for lactose intolerance. I used one at Whole Foods yesterday to try an $11.99-a-pound selection.

I'd like to hear about other shoppers' experience with free samples.
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  1. Victor, I rarely partake of free samples because the majority of people do not use toothpicks, but put their hands in the bowl of food. And since many people do not wash hands after using the facilities ( I have observed this first hand in the ladies room) Voila - there is the problem. I must say that my husband does not share my feelings about this. But then again, I think he could eat dirt and not be affected (or infected)


  2. I have been known to try food and wine samples at Whole Foods and have had no bad experiences (knock on wood). There has to be a person there with the food though. Just a personal prefernence. As for the oil and vinegar, I have no idea. :)

  3. Thanks, Holly. I agree that someone attending the food is important, and in Costco, all samples are attended and sometimes heated up or prepared in front of you. Also, they won't give samples to my 13-year-old son without my permission. At Whole Foods, it's half and half. The other day, I saw a box on a counter with some food in it (empanada, quesadilla?) and I asked the employee if that was a sample or had someone left it behind. It turned out to be food abandoned by a customer.


Please try to stay on topic.