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If you touch it I'll have to throw it away


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The thread on restaurant sanitation in the restaurant life forum got me thinking about a recent episode at my local grocery store. At the fish counter whole pompano were on sale and I asked if I could smell the fish before purchasing. The guy behind the counter lifted the fish barely over the counter but sternly said "if you touch it, Ill have to throw it away. I immediately thought about all the hands that touched that fish from the fisherman that caught it to everyone involved in the processing and shipping of that fish to market. I understand that people might be uncomfortable about someone touching the food they are going to buy but the fish needs to be cooked. What harm could come from someone touching it with their bare hands? I feel that we are going off the deep end on certain issues that have to do with perception only. Do you get to touch the fish before you buy it?

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Geez, to quote Bugs Bunny, "what a maroon"...

You gotta feel fresh fish to make sure it's still firm. The guy probably had been brainwashed by the corporate videos on hygiene.

Edited by BeeZee (log)

"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast" - Oscar Wilde

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I wouldn't be too hard on the fish guy. He was probably following draconian health dept standards or store rules.

Fact is, everybody else touching that fish, from fisherman on down, has been certified or at the very least trained in safe food-handling procedure. The average customer, on the other hand, may have just used the bathroom and not washed his hands, been digging in the dirt, or god knows what other unspeakable acts. My god, he may have just been using poison on his garden, right?

You probably should ask about gloves next time - they may be accommodating. If not, don't take it out on the fish guy. As I said, local health departments and their regulations can be draconian and bewildering - but not following them can be disastrous to a business.

"A culture's appetite always springs from its poor" - John Thorne

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I ask to smell, and touch foods all the time, not just fish (breads, in particular) but I always ask them for a glove of a piece of waxed-paper from the dispenser to touch with. Yes, the fish will be cooked, but as a rule, the more people who are taught and who practice safe food handling, the better.

Yes, there are germs all over and around us. But we don't have to try to spread diseases unnecessarily.

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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If it falls on the floor and you pick it up before 7 seconds, it's still okay to eat, right?

It's five seconds. :biggrin:

Acording to my three sons, there are some guidelines her:

If it's a cookie........up to 30 minutes, if the dog hasn't gotten it yet.

If it's pizza.............24 hours is perfectly acceptable if you blow it off first.

Anything gooey.......Don't touch and deny knowledge. Mom will pick it up when she notices the ants.

Brenda

I whistfully mentioned how I missed sushi. Truly horrified, she told me "you city folk eat the strangest things!", and offered me a freshly fried chitterling!

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On a more serious note. We all know that down the line our fish and meat products have been handled many times by many hands. We hope that all safety protocol has been followed. We realy don't Want to think any further than that, and so don't. However, I don't want to see another shopper handling this raw material. If I did, I wouldn't choose to buy my meat there, unless I was going to cook it to death, which I rarely do. I have asked for gloves in the past and have been given them, more for the consideration of other shoppers than myself.

Brenda

I whistfully mentioned how I missed sushi. Truly horrified, she told me "you city folk eat the strangest things!", and offered me a freshly fried chitterling!

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What about all the fruits and vegetables people squeeze?! Those are often eaten raw, to boot!

Completely nonsensical...

...

Yes, there are germs all over and around us.  But we don't have to try to spread diseases unnecessarily.

I agree. There appears to be 2 distinct camps regarding cleanliness. I must admit that it has never even occurred to me to ask to touch the fish. Really? But I can definitely say that that would be the last time I shopped at a place where they let the customers finger the fish.

And sharonb, do they really let you do this in Paris? I don't think so; at least, not the last time I lived there. In fact, they usually get very Very VERY upset if you touch the fruit in the shops.

So, I'd say it's not completely nonsensical...

John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

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" I must admit that it has never even occurred to me to ask to touch the fish. Really? But I can definitely say that that would be the last time I shopped at a place where they let the customers finger the fish."

Forgot to say that I would, as posted above, ask for plastic to cover my hand. People are more sensitive to having raw meat being touched, even though it is going to be cooked. I just hate walking thru the produce aisle and seeing people violating (for lack of a better word) all of the fruit and veg. Not to mention the kid wiping his nose then poking away at everything from the cart. Fruit/veg wash = good.

"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast" - Oscar Wilde

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And sharonb, do they really let you do this in Paris?  I don't think so; at least, not the last time I lived there.  In fact, they usually get very Very VERY upset if you touch the fruit in the shops. 

So, I'd say it's not completely nonsensical...

That is less and less true. At markets, yes; but even at fruit and vegetable merchants (not supermarkets, where it is true across the board), the trend toward self-service is on the rise; there are three f&v merchants in my merchant street (rue Mouffetard) and all three are self-serve. Same goes for my former street across town (rue Lepic), with 3 out of 4 being self-service.

And since we were all talking about an American place here, I went with the general way people choose and buy fruit in the U.S. (memories of Fairway, etc., from my 5 years in NY).

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