Delectable gourmet food is just as susceptible to germs as the supermarket stuff.
That’s the number-1 thing that gourmet grocers won’t tell you according to this Smart Money list adapted from the book "1,001 Things They Won’t Tell You: An Insider’s Guide to Spending, Saving, and Living Wisely," by Jonathan Dahl and the editors of SmartMoney.
Michael Doyle, director of the Center for Food Safety and Quality Enhancement at the University of Georgia, suggests self-control. "I personally would not buy any food exposed to handling," he says, practically shuddering at the notion of people "taking samples with their fingers." He points out that these visually-appealing foods may carry germs like salmonella and campylobacter jejuni.
Richly-stocked salad bars are probably the worst offenders. Warm temperatures and unsterile prepping conditions can transform a Greek salad into a stomach-turning petri dish. "With some of these salad-bar items, after they’re cut, the diseased organisms can grow and increase to dangerous levels," says Joseph Frank, a professor in the department of food, science and technology at the University of Georgia. Even at the most posh gourmet emporiums, he adds, "there are no disease-free guarantees."