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5 Warnings to Shoppers From Ex-Safeway Employees

Grocery delivery, checkout, expiration dates—former Safeway employees spill the beans on this and more.

In 1915, a budding businessman named M.B. Skaggs started a tiny grocery store in Idaho, which has grown to become Safeway, one of the largest supermarket chains in the U.S. under operator Albertsons. Safeway is especially popular on the west coast, known for its unbeatable deals and fresh food options. But even if the chain is your go-to grocery store, there could be some important things to be aware of. To get the scoop, we turned to former employees for their expert knowledge. Read on for five insider warnings about shopping at Safeway.

READ THIS NEXT: 5 Warnings to Shoppers From Former Kroger Employees.

Don't be surprised if you see food from other companies.

A young woman shopping in a grocery store while holding a basket
Gorodenkoff / Shutterstock

If you're strolling through Safeway and pick up a can that says Vons or Acme instead of Safeway, don't be surprised. One Redditor created a thread allowing users to ask them everything about their experience working at the store and discussed the item mix-up. "Vons is one of Safeway's sister companies," they explain. The label you see will usually depend on what state you're in. For example, there are a lot of Vons in California, where there is also a good deal of Safeways.

But don't think everything is interchangeable at these sister stores. "We had people bring in coupons and reusable bags all the time into Safeway that said Vons. I think I saw people try to return Vons products once or twice," the Redditor noted.

Be smart about grocery delivery.

Fleet of Safeway home grocery delivery trucks outside of store location
David Tran / iStock

You might be tempted to use DoorDash or another grocery delivery service to order from Safeway, but there's a better option. They have their own delivery service in-store that allows employees to pick up your items, and they're much more familiar with what's in stock. At select locations, Safeway offers "DUG," or "Drive Up and Go," where you order online for curbside pickup and employees will load up your car. This is a great option for older folks or those who avoid crowded stores for health concerns.

Another thing to keep in mind is that using an outside delivery service both irks Safeway employees and increases the chances your order will never arrive. "Yesterday as I was doing a DUG order, this guy from DoorDash came in asking for some products. I told him where it was and he asked if I needed his list?" a current employee bemoaned on Reddit. The driver ended up canceling the order, which former employees commented was a common occurrence when third-party delivery employees couldn't locate items on an order.

READ THIS NEXT: 8 Warnings to Shoppers From Ex-Costco Employees.

It's better not to use self-checkout.

man in close-up at the supermarket checkout
Elena Perova / iStock

In another Reddit ask-me-anything thread, former Bay Area Safeway employee Malicious Hippie called the store's self-checkout machines "infamously bad." They noted that "the machines break down on a regular basis [and] need to be replaced."

Shoppers have issues with self-checkout, too, with multiple Reddit threads devoted to figuring out tricks to make the machines work. They have issues locating QR codes, and items often have to be scanned multiple times. Your best bet is to go to a regular checkout line with a Safeway employee.

Sometimes the stores aren't as clean as you think.

A woman buying a canned beverage at a grocery store
iStock / paulaphoto

When a Safeway employee in Vail, Colorado said they were fired after exposing "rat feces and human waste around the food," other ex-employees weighed in on Reddit. "The Vail location is not the only one with human feces coming up out of the drain in the food prep areas," wrote a former maintenance tech who worked in Safeway kitchens. "I did 3rd party food safety inspections for most of the Denver area. Safeway in general doesn't give a crap about sanitation unless they're getting bad press for it," another user commented. Of course, all stores are different, and these accounts haven't been proven in news outlets.

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The food might actually be expired.

A woman shopping in the grocery store in the meat section
Shutterstock / Naty.M

Some shocking claims from former employees make it seem like Safeway's food isn't always the freshest. "The northglenn Safeway used to make us put discount stickers over meat expiration dates and over holes in packaging," Redditor nnonop claimed.

Similarly, in 2019, a social media post caught the attention of Washington, DC-based news station WUSA9. The Facebook post showed a photo of chicken kebobs taken on May 26 at a local Safeway. The "best if used by" date, however, was May 22. After reaching out to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), WUSA9 explained that "best if used by" is different than "sell by" or "use by." What this shopper saw is "a quality-based date label—when foods do not show signs of spoilage and are still considered to be wholesome." The FDA confirmed that if the chicken still appeared and smelled fresh, it could be sold after that date.

The lesson here? Always consult expiration dates but know what the various designations really mean.

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