The case of the tainted lettuce



“I went down the street to the 24-hour grocery. When I got there, the guy was locking the front door. I said, ‘Hey, the sign says you’re open 24 hours.’ He said, ‘Yes, but not in a row.’”- Steven Wright.

T H E  G O O D  –  T H E  B A G G E D  –  T H E  S P O I L E D

What do you do when that fresh and perky bag of Garden Fresh salad that you planned to serve with your regular Monday burger turns out to be a mere wolf in sheep clothing?

Monday evening’s supper fare for me includes a crisp lettuce salad as a side dish with my well topped , thick and juicy burger. I like to use mayo, green relish, ketchup, an onion for the tanginess and of course  mustard. Yummy!

My culinary dreams of a tasty repast were dashed completely when I opened the bag of “fresh” lettuce and discovered that the contents of the bag were emitting an offensive vinegary smell. The contents had fermented. The expiration date for freshness was September 25th. This was only the sixteenth of the month.

Before you ask it I prefer to buy the “bagged” lettuce as opposed to buying an individual head because from past experience the lone head gets lost in the veggie container of my fridge . I have been buying this product for a while and can tell the difference between a package of fresh lettuce and one that should be sent to the glue factory of not the refuse can.

Earlier that day I had visited the veggie department of my Safeway store, rummaged through a number of potential candidates for my meal and chose a package that did not look like it was mugged on a subway train at five in the sfternoon.

The lettuce at my outlet were not as neatly arranged as in the photo above. There was a definite over crowding situation and some of the bags were thawing from being stored in a veggie cooler. Those were definite rejects

I tossed the spoiled lettuce ( bag and all) in the trash can and wolfed down my burger . I resolved to visit the store’s produce section the next day to at least report the incident .If one bag was ruined then there was a good chance there were more problem items in the lot.

Around 11 a.m. the following day I walked into the store’s veggie section and informed one of the employees there ( my friend Luke) the problem I had with the packaged item. We walked over to the display case and he chose a bag of the questionable lettuce.

I sniffed about the opened package and recognized the fresh and lively scent former packages had emitted. I told him  that the one I bought had fermented and that the aroma made the item inedible. He was sympathetic.

He then invited the person who was responsible for that department over to chat with me. Luke had his own department to care for and he left me with the other employee.

I explained to this person that I knew the difference in aroma between god and not so good lettuce. He offered a few “explanations” that attempted to dissuade me from my main argument. A fellow female employee who was off duty but shopping in the area stopped and offered her take on the topic.

“That vinegary smell is the same one you encounter at a deli bar where the vinegar keeps the lettuce fresh.” She offered her two cents into the debate and then walked away quickly.

I told this staff member that there might be a cause for concern if other customers buy this tainted item. He assured me that the items in the case from yesterday were all sold and that he had just refilled the lettuce case that morning.

I peered into the over stocked bin and noticed that a few of the bags I had turned on end the day before were exactly where I had left them. I think he was not telling the whole truth on that one.

On his behalf he did try to tell me the visible tell tale signs a badly packaged lettuce bag would present: water in the bag from the thawing process; bits of dirt on the leaves and discolored lettuce leaves. I

I assure him hat I had inspected the package for all his key  points but there was no visible sign of anything being amiss.

I noticed that he was getting a bit defensive and so thanked him for his advice and left the produce area.

Luckily I had saved my cashier slip from the day before and wrote a long and lengthy note to the Safeway management team. he email included the store’s Identification number, the day and date and time of my purchase and the transaction number.

I don’t know if any direct action will be taken by store management but I did feel better having written the long note to the regional office.

I will still shop at this store but will visit the deli bar from now own to get my fresh lettuce salad.

I guess the store’s bag boys would be the employees to pigeon hole for any insider scoop on the store’s policies.

The burger was tasty but I did miss my salad.


On Friday September 20th I was shopping at my favorite Safeway outlet and started a conversation with my inside contact Luke. He told me that the person I spoke with ( the department managerTom) had been exaggerating the turh about the tainted lettuce.

The lettuce Tom claimed to have replaced because the previous day’s supply sold out was an outright lie. My hunch about the sub par quality of the product was also spot on the money.

Luke felt insulted and embarassed that the manager would try to fabricate a story about the lettuce’s freshness and quality. He also added that customers should raise questions about the quality and freshness of the vegetables they purhase.

My thanks and appreciation to Luke for clarifying the truth behind this cover up. 




  1. Sorry about your wasted salad bag. Next time save it and return as evidence.

    There seems to be a policy with supermarkets over here. They don’t quibble, they take your word for it, apologise and exchange.

    Remember the retail slogan – The customer is always right! Remind me to tell you about my supermarket delivery pass.

    I’m a fan of the mixed baby salad leaves that you can only buy in a bag, but unfortunately they don’t last very long before they turn damp and squishy, which means I end up throwing away half the bag. Iceberg lettuce, however, is a whole new ball game and far better in a tortilla wrap than the soft leaves.

    I still have waste but at least I manage a few meals out of it before it ends up in the bin.

    You make me smile with all the dressings that end up on your burger, do you actually taste the meat? 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • When I discovered the lettuce was tainted I was tempted to save the bag as olfactory evidence that there was something amiss. But from past experience store management has persuaded me to mind my own business ( which I never do) and not waste their time bringing up such trifles. Their motto is “if you don’t like it bring it back”.

      As to your final question fortunately I can almost taste the meat but really do prefer the addons adorning my tasty weekly indulgence. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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