In a local supermarket, the bakery section has a small cart-like unit that houses baked goods like croissants, bagels, etc. The cart has small boxes to store the food, tongs to pick it up, and a roof-like clear plastic shield. However, the boxes themselves are not individually covered (in contrast with a bulk bin or something similar, for example).

My question is, are these open-air container bagels less sanitary than, say, a closed plastic package of bagels? I'd assume there would be greater chance of people coughing on them, touching and throwing them back, having pathogens being blown on them, etc. Is that significant?

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    I think there would be a difference if they are on a horiz. surface below face level. Since people sneeze downward and any number of things could settle on them. At a supermarket I go to, they are in a wall mounted cabinet with items arranged shoulder level and higher, enclosed with doors on the front. This would be better since people usually don't sneeze toward the ceiling. It's not perfect, but a balance between risk and convenience. You probably won't find one packaged doughnut if that is all you want.
    – user3169
    Apr 12, 2018 at 6:00

1 Answer 1


A "chance"? yes...not "as sanitary"? yes...However, given that these markets are in business to stay in business and potentially subject to severe litigation at each possible instance of food borne illness that could have maybe-possibly-conceivably be laid at their doorstep by an over anxious [expletive-deleted] lawyer I would gauge the 'risk' as very low. Your mileage may vary.

  • With bulk sales like that, regulatory oversight that will take respect if not given respect is not necessarily a bad thing. Apr 11, 2018 at 18:28
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    I fail to see how this answers the question. It doesn't address the legal aspect or the health aspect. ?
    – mroll
    Apr 11, 2018 at 23:43
  • @mroll Which part of the question does it 'not answer ? OP asks thriee questions: 'Is it less sanitary? Yes Is it there a greater chance of contamination? Yes Is it significant? Probably not.
    – Cos Callis
    Apr 12, 2018 at 10:23
  • @CosCallis imagine this was a school cafeteria setting. For the same exact thing the health department would give you points off.
    – mroll
    Apr 12, 2018 at 17:17
  • @mroll, but that wasn't what OP actually asks.
    – Cos Callis
    Apr 12, 2018 at 17:31

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