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From Salad Bar to Seafood to Deli: How Safe Is Your Supermarket?

Use our interactive guide to discover the signs of high-risk bacteria hiding places


Click and drag the scene below to explore a typical supermarket. Click on the red ⊕ icons for more information on dangers to avoid.

ILLUSTRATIONS BY CHRIS O’RILEY

How to avoid contaminated food

Supermarkets are revamping to offer expanded choices of fruits and vegetables, more fresh meat and fish, wider deli selections and added grab-and-go options like salad bars. The upside: faster and, in theory, healthier meals. That’s because raw or fresh products often have a nutritional edge over processed and packaged ones. The downside: Your groceries are more likely to harbor bacteria that could make you sick. 

We can’t see microbial villains such as E. coli, salmonella and listeria. But we can see signs that we’re at higher risk of encountering them. Don’t know what to look for? We asked a range of experts on food safety to tell us what their trained eyes notice when inspecting key areas of the store — and what they keep in mind for potential foodborne illnesses when shopping for themselves.

More on Food Safety

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