I bought some chicken breasts in Pascagoula, Mississippi today at Walmart. They were on sale for $1.88, easily making them among the least expensive meat purchases for the week.
That’s what I thought anyhow.
Bringing the chicken breasts home, for our needs, they needed re-packaged and most of them frozen for later use. Quart size zip close freezer bags make short work of the task, and they are intended to be used within a month. (We have a tiny freezer space.) With that chores done, I picked up the styrofoam tray they are sold in to dispose of it…and was shocked.
That tray, with its thick absorbent pad at the bottom completely saturated, weighed in over a pound. (One pound, six ounces, to be exact.) While the packages are considered the tare weight and aren’t part of what we’re actually paying for, the tare is determined by the dry weight of the packaging. Part of the weight I was paying for was this water (or undetermined liquid) from the meat itself, and it was an unusable portion that I was throwing away. The meat wasn’t labeled “previously frozen” so I was led to believe I was purchasing “fresh” meat, not “previously frozen” meat. (Previously frozen meat loses a lot of moisture during the freeze/thaw cycle, hence it being “drier” when it is prepared. That’s why we pay more for “fresh” turkeys, etc. and also why Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers advertises that their chicken fingers are always fresh and never frozen. There IS a difference.)
Some meats have added water or broth, partly to enhance the flavor, and partly to increase the weight. These products, as required by law, are labeled as such. To NOT label that the meat being sold has added water or broth is really unscrupulous.
Do I think that Walmart added water to the chicken breasts to increase their weight and increase perceived value while enhancing profits?
We’re talking about Walmart here. To do so is not only unscrupulous but it is also in violation of federal laws.
Do I think that Walmart was selling previously frozen chicken breasts as fresh chicken breasts?
The chicken wasn’t on clearance, the packaging was undamaged, the meat appeared and smelled like fresh chicken meat. Yet there was an excessive amount of water in the bottom of the container. It came from somewhere, even if I don’t know what its origins were.
Once again, I’m not happy. My budget, like most people’s budgets, is tight. I deeply resent attempts to separate me from my money. I feel cheated, to be honest. I griped to my neighbor, and stated I would like to return to the store with the package to complain. She said they wouldn’t do anything other than listen and tell me sorry, too bad. I called my mother and told her about it too. She shared her complaints about the store in her town and state, and repeated the sentiment that “they” (customer service at Walmart) wouldn’t do anything there either. Both of these women told me that buying meat at Walmart was not a good shopping practice due to lack of quality and their prices, and my neighbor suggested Wayne Lee’s (a local Pascagoula grocery store) as a much better market to purchase meat.
It seems that I’m not the only one who is less-than-happy about a meat purchase at Walmart. I know in my case, the purchase was made because of the non-food items I had on my shopping list which were purchased from Walmart. In a sense, I suppose I paid for convenience, but can I actually afford convenience? The local grocery store, Wayne Lee’s, is not out of my way when I am running other errands, so there isn’t an additional “fuel” expense to calculate in as long as I schedule my stop there in conjunction with other errands. They are reputed to have better customer service (I’ve had no reason to go to their customer service desk) and definitely have shorter lines.
I am unhappy, and so…I’m casting my vote the only way we can cast a vote with a corporation. I will not buy meat there again, even if it is more convenient. Our vegetables already primarily come from Four Seasons Produce, and have better prices and selection.
So how are you casting your “dollar ballots” in terms of quality and customer service when you are shopping for your family’s food?
Have you had any personal experience with meat packaging, at Walmart or anywhere?
Should I be worried about that saturated absorbent pad holding more liquid than should have been in the container?