Harris Teeter / Frozen Poultry Sold as Fresh
I’ve been shopping at Harris Teeter for 9 years now. Their in store staff is great, selection is good and they keep their stores clean. I do however feel they are dishonest about their own products; like labeling frozen poultry as “fresh.”
Most of the Harris Teeter's I've visited have the same issue with poultry items, i.e. Turkey & Chicken being stored at temperatures below USDA standards which is below 26 degrees fahrenheit. I’ve mentioned this to them many times and I keep finding frozen solid poultry that is suppose to be “fresh.” I was informed that the chicken comes off the truck that way.
Here are excerpts from the USDA's website stating what the definition of the label "fresh" means:
Why is 26 °F the lowest temperature at which poultry remains fresh?
Below 26 °F, raw poultry products become firm to the touch because much of the free water is changing to ice. At 26 °F, the product surface is still pliable and yields to the thumb when pressed. Most consumers consider a product to be fresh, as opposed to frozen, when it is pliable or when it is not hard to the touch.
What does the "fresh" rule mean to consumers?
For consumers, "fresh" means whole poultry and cuts have never been below 26 °F. This is consistent with consumer expectations of "fresh" poultry, i.e., not hard to the touch or frozen solid. Fresh poultry should always bear a "keep refrigerated" statement.
Any good cook knows that frozen chicken is much tougher and less flavorful. It's a basic scientific fact that when you freeze cells it damages them and they loose their moisture, thus you get tougher, much less juicy, inferior chicken.
So, not only does Harris Teeter labeling their poultry "fresh" NOT meet USDA label standards, but also it's an inferior product to truly "fresh" poultry. I love the truly fresh chicken at Fresh Mart, It's much more tender and juicy with great flavor! When I bake Fresh Mart's fresh chicken breasts I'm not left with shrunken chicken breasts in a watery soup from the juice that leached out like at Harris Teeter. I understand it's more economical for Harris Teeter to freeze fresh chicken. It lasts longer, there's less waist; but most important Harris Teeter looses credibility! Frozen solid does not equal fresh! If a consumer doesn't trust Harris Teeter, they are less likely to buy their products. That's not economical, but most of all it's not morally right!