Coronavirus prompts Trader Joe's to change food sample policy

NEW YORK, NY - March 1: MANDATORY CREDIT Bill Tompkins/Getty Images The Trader Joe's storefront on March 1, 2020 in New York City. Founder Joe Coulombe died at his home in Pasadena, California On February 28, 2020. He was 89 years old. (Photo by Bill

Trader Joe's is changing how its employees distribute food samples to customers as coronavirus cases continue to pop up throughout the United States, according to an internal memo leaked on Thursday.

The memo tells employees to plate samples for customers individually instead of keeping pre-plated samples on a platter, according to Business Insider. Employees were also told to serve all samples with a utensil and to hand customers cups when they want to sample coffee, instead of keeping a stack for shoppers to serve themselves freely.

All of these align with practices recommended by Roslyn Stone, chief operating officer of Zero Hour Health, which advises restaurants and other businesses on keeping customers and employees healthy.

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"There's no reason to discontinue samples if you're following good food safety practices," Stone told FOX Business.

Shoppers should be careful when they take samples all the time and not because of the recent coronavirus outbreak, Stone said. She said to make sure the employee handing you a sample has gloves and access to hand sanitizer or a sink.

"If someone hands me a sample I have to eat in my own hand, I don’t take it. But that's more about my own hand," Stone said.

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It's good to remember that germs lurk everywhere in supermarkets, not just at the sample counter. Stone recommends against snacking on items in your cart while you shop.

Other companies like Costco and Whole Foods may follow Trader Joe's lead.

"Many clients in the restaurant industry are expecting to see a tremendous bump in delivery," Stone said. "How that impacts all of this may be fewer people in the stores."

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