What Most Grocery Stores Won't Tell You

Act 4: Grocery store experts reveal their tips for making your next shopping trip a strategic one.
3:00 | 11/22/13

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Transcript for What Most Grocery Stores Won't Tell You
Test Text1 plain Hard to believe, thanksgiving is already next week. Many of you will be in the grocery this weekend. Tonight with the insiders revealing eye opening supermarket secrets. With thanksgiving and the holiday feasting season firing up, you need to know the lowdown on that weekly pilgrimage to the grocer. Think about it, after rent or mortgage it's often your second biggest monthly bill. Don't forget your friendly neighborhood grocery store is part of a $600 billion business. And they're always looking to make a few dollars more. Glowsers are counting on to be lazy? To do the least amount of work. Reporter: So we've assembled our own team of grocery insiders to pull back those plastic curtains. Pete napolitano, aka, produce pete. Former store owner maurice nizzardo, aka the supermarket suit. Lawyer for the center for science in the public interest, sarah klein, aka the clean queen. And our former cashier victor pizzaro, aka the cranky cashier. Now before you even begin shopping, understand grocery shopping is a mind game. The grocer wants you in the store. They wanna sell you what. They wanna sell you. They want you to come on the day they want you to come on. Everybody wants to shop on a saturday. So the grocer will make specials effective monday and tuesday. Reporter: It's a retail seduction? It's a retail seduction. Reporter: What's the first thing you grab walking in? Well there's something you should know about those carts. Grocery store carts are germy. Infested with whatever little bacteria anybody else who's passed through the grocery store that day is carrying. Reporter: She's not exaggerating. In fact a 2011 study found 72% of the carts they swabbed in four different states tested positive for fecal bacteria. Yeesh. Wipe off that handle with an antibacterial wipe. Reporter: When it comes to picking produce, pay heed to the pete's words of wisdom. About pineapples. You want the break in color. When you say "break in color," what does that mean? You see how it goes greennd see how this -- it's startin' to break, the color is startin' to break. Reporter: Buying berries? Ever wonder what those colored pads on the bottom of the container are for? There's a secret behind them. You see this pad here? If it starts to go bad, that's gonna stain up. So you know that the raspberries are going to go bad. Reporter: And pete says grocers gusy up the veggies with the spritzer hoses, but it's all for show. The water on the produce is for one reason and one reason only. It makes it look better. But water starts to -- the -- the deterioration process. Reporter: So remember, dry your wet produce. So when you get it home, you're gonna shake it really good, shake it good. Reporter: Pete's old school. I don't even wash it when i eat it. Reporter: Which might horrify our germ-tracker, sarah. Almost 50 million americans get sick from foodborne illness every year. Reporter: The food marketing institute sent us a statement saying in part that grocer's are in business to serve their customers by providing safe, nutritious, affordable food and food safety is the number-one priority for supermarkets. But sometimes your produce can be a little too fresh. One woms she found, no joke, killer spiders from brazil in a bunch of bananas she bought at her grocer. An extreme case, but did you know nonlethal insect parts are perfectly legal in our groceries? The food and drug administration. Allows a certain amount of insects and even rodent hairs in a lot of our food. Although it's unpleasant, it's not likely to be unsafe. Reporter: Some rodent hair might be allowed, but make sure your store has a handle on any feasting pests even though they may try to hide the evidence. People of the store were actually, like, "we need to set up mousetraps behind aisles and in between shelves, cause there's, obviously, an issue. That's not good for business. It's really not. So, like, they'd try to hide it, and it -- Reporter: It might not just be mice according to vick. So I pull the cart and I hear a noise. And then I look down. And there's -- I want to say a roach, like, this big, now the deli is a popular stop off for shopper, and sometimes bacteria the deli counter is really kind of a hazmat zone in -- grocery stores. And that's because listeria, which is one of our kind of hardiest and most dangerous bacteria can live on plastic and metal. Reporter: From the blade, to the counter, to the scale it can be a walk down listeria lane. No wonder pregnant women are advised to steer clear of some deli items. In fact, it's such a concern, that in may the usda and fda released a report outlining ways delis can reduce the risk of listeria contamination. So sarah says watch out for a dirty deli. Even prepackaged meat can have listeria, but it's probably the safer choice, one of the most important things you can do with deli meat, no matter where you're getting it from, is use it or toss it within three days. And here's a fun fact, sarah says not all those hunks of ground or boneless turkey are from one animal. It's called a chub. That's not the shape of an animal in real life. That's a bunch of -- of pieces of turkey meat that have been shoved into, essentially, a giant condom. Reporter: All our insiders say, look for deals in the store. The manufacturers pay to have their items at eye level. If we go away from the eye level, we're actually maybe lookin' for some bargains? Yes. That's true. Reporter: But look closely. This ain't four star dining. What should consumers know about markdown items? Those are usually, like, the things that are closest to the expiration kind of like the island of misfit toys type thing. Reporter: And sometimes the products could have been mishandled. Grocery store gross outs are a youtube favorite. You just never know if someone's going to take a sledgehammer for instance, to your poultry. Now, you might think you're being super savvy by inspecting expiration dates, but guess what? They mean jack squat in most of the country. The fda doesn't even require date labeling, 9 states don't even ask for them. And 30 states allow food sold past the original used by date. So your grocer might be legally allowed to put new dates on expired items beef brisket good to september 19th? Eh, make that september 30th. Chicken use by june second, on second thought, june 10th. They say "guaranteed fresh." But how good is that promise? Reporter: Now most grocery stores do a great job of keeping things clean and taking care of their customers, but just make sure you keep your eyes open, or you might come home with something you never intended to buy.

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