As I write this there are many concerns about the flu epidemic plus we have received several calls about the Consumer Reports article concerning tainted romaine lettuce. The grocery store can be a place where you can be exposed to both of these things. In order to try and prevent both of these there are a few things you can do to help protect yourself. A good place to start is to remember to always use the disinfecting wipes provided at the store to wipe down your cart before use.
Probably the two biggest areas of concern are the produce and meat departments. In the produce department you may see consumers lick their fingers in order to try and open the produce bags that are available and then use those same fingers to touch and select the produce they want. If you are someone that opens the produce bags using that method, use your other hand to touch the produce. And always wash produce at home before consuming. If you see nicks and bruises on the produce you are looking at, the protective skins could definitely be damaged which makes it easier for bacteria to enter the flesh. If possible, hand select your own produce rather than choosing a prepackaged bulk bag where you may not notice the nicks and bruises until you get home.
In the meat department look for thermometers in the refrigerated and frozen cases. Refrigerated cases should be at 40 degrees or below and freezer cases should be at 0 degrees or below. Raw and ready-to-eat foods should be separated. Raw meat and sushi should not be together in the same case unless there is a divider between them. Many meat departments now offer plastic bags for sanitation. To use them, pick up the meat with the bag then pull the bag through. That helps protect your hands and helps prevent cross contamination. Fish should be refrigerated or displayed not only on ice but in ice. Seafood is highly perishable allowing bacteria to grow rapidly on it.
Grocery stores in general go out of their way to make the shopping experience as safe for you as possible. It is always a good idea to take a few precautionary measures for yourself however. None of us are interested in getting the flu or food poisoning.