What To Do If (When) You Drop Grocery Store Produce On The Floor

Given the ever-growing prices of fresh food, it seems all the more important now to find the best produce to justify the cost. We will do whatever it takes to find the perfect, unblemished produce, including touching and feeling our way to find the perfectly-shaped, ripe-enough fruit or veggie. 

However, as you try to pluck the best-looking option from the stack, sometimes other pieces may fall, landing on the floor of the store or market. Assuming the spill is limited to just one or two pieces instead of a slapstick-style avalanche that blocks cart traffic and draws the attention of the staff, it's best for you to handle it by yourself. If the produce is not damaged, you can place it back on the pile, but if it is bruised or busted open, you should find a staff member and hand it to them so it can be properly discarded and/or cleaned up.

Best practices for handling fallen produce

The etiquette of fallen produce largely depends on the type of produce and how much is involved in the spill. Generally speaking, if the fresh fruit or vegetable is intact, you can place it back onto the produce pile and move on. This is especially true of items that typically won't be easily bruised in a short fall, such as oranges, apples, and the like. If the produce is very small, such as a single grape, you can retrieve it and throw it away in a garbage bin before someone steps on it unaware and causes a mess, or worse, an injury from slipping and falling.

However, when the dropped produce is soft and easily damaged, you should pick it up and give it to the staff, if possible. For example, watermelon — despite its hard rind — tends to split open if dropped from a moderate height. The resulting damage would render the fruit unsellable. Same goes for tomatoes and avocadoes. If the tumble has left juices and remnants on the floor, park your cart over the spill and notify the staff so they can clean it up and prevent any accidents.

Other grocery shopping etiquette

Outside of dealing with fallen produce, there are other points of etiquette to consider when grocery shopping, which will make the experience more pleasant for yourself, the staff, and other customers. Some tips are obvious, such as avoiding blocking the aisle with your cart, and placing unwanted items back to the shelves you got them from originally. Other rules include respecting the flow of traffic in the store, and always grabbing a shopping cart.

Some of the more important etiquette to pay attention to at the grocery store involve the checkout section, where much of the crowding and waiting happens. It's ideal to maintain a respectful distance between yourself and the shopper in front of you (a courtesy that has only grown in importance since the pandemic). And make sure you have found everything on your grocery list before queuing into the checkout line, so you do not cause a traffic jam while you run to get something you forgot. Finally, return the cart to designated spots within the store or parking lot, so it will not bump into other cars and cause damage.