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One Thing You'll Never See In Grocery Stores Again

This department already shut down, and it could very likely stay that way.
Woman at grocery store serving prepared food at salad bar

Unlike the majority of businesses, grocery stores have been open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Yes, you've had to make a few changes to your shopping habits (some of which are essential to follow to protect your health), but overall, your food-buying experience has remained somewhat unchanged.

There is, however, one major change that grocery stores were forced to make immediately at the outbreak of the virus due to safety concerns. It's something that you may have overlooked until now, but it's also something you'll surely miss if the change becomes permanent: closing the salad bar.

Previously open to all who want to use them (including those who like to sneak samples with their bare hands), salad bars are extremely unsafe to operate during a pandemic.

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While there is some plexiglass that separates you from the food, salad bars are almost completely exposed. Because coronavirus spreads through respiratory droplets from a sneeze, cough, or even talking, having food left out in the open that you intend to consume minutes after you serve yourself is essentially a recipe for superspreading.

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Having food sitting out isn't the only problem with grocery store salad bars. It's also a problem that you have to use the same serving utensils. It's easy for coronavirus to spread at a buffet because a single item—a serving utentil—is shared between multiple people. If one virus-carrier uses it, it could pass the virus onto the next person—and even more beyond that.

This may signal the end of building your own Whole Foods salad bar lunch. If this news only brings up even more questions you may have around food, food safety, and grocery stores, be sure to check out 10 of Your Most Urgent Coronavirus-Related Food Questions—Answered.

Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.

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Olivia Tarantino
Olivia Tarantino is a senior editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in nutrition, health, and food product coverage. Read more
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