Ocala Post investigates: Serious food safety issues at local Winn-Dixie

winn-dixie, ocala news, food violations, marion county news, health, food safety,
Photo that clearly shows that the chicken had been thawed and then refrozen. Ocala Post

[Last updated on August 6, 2015, at 4:35 p.m.]

Ocala, Florida — Ocala Post recently investigated the Marion Oaks Winn-Dixie following multiple complaints from consumers about food safety concerns.

During one incident, a reader contacted Ocala Post and stated that she noticed chicken in a Winn-Dixie coffin-freezer had apparently been thawed and then refrozen.

The customer said she tried to tell an employee, but he just rolled his eyes and walked away.

Approximately one hour after receiving the complaint, Ocala Post arrived at the store and investigated.

Ocala Post found that there were in fact dozens of bags of chicken that had been thawed and then refrozen. In fact, the bags of chicken were in the process of refreezing and were still a little on the soft side.

As with the customer, Ocala Post notified an employee who appeared to be taking inventory in the frozen section. Ocala Post informed the employee that there was chicken in the coffin-freezer that had clearly been thawed and then returned to the freezer.

The employee was asked to get the manager of the store.

The employee, with a confused look on his face, rolled his eyes and walked away.

After 22 minutes, the manager had not appeared, and the chicken remained in the coffin-freezer.

Ocala Post then contacted Winn-Dixie’s corporate office and apprised them of the situation.

Corporate Communications Manager Julianne Roberts said, “Such an allegation would represent a serious breach of company policy as food quality and food safety are a priority.”

Health officials told Ocala Post that if chicken were to be thawed at room temperature, refrozen, and then sold, that it could potentially be a serious health risk to consumers.

During the investigation, Ocala Post learned that the Marion Oaks Winn-Dixie is not the only Winn-Dixie store to be investigated for the same matter.

In fact, it appears as though Winn-Dixie has a habit of refreezing thawed foods, including ice cream.

Research showed that WFTV did a similar investigation involving an Orlando and Ocala Winn-Dixie located on Maricamp Road in July.

During their investigation, they also found multiple violations.

“We will immediately investigate these claims internally and address any possible customer service issues,” Roberts said.

The Department of Agriculture was also notified.

Ocala Post will continue to update as more information becomes available.

What do you think about this? Have you observed this type of situation at your local Winn-Dixie?

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  • Brenda Morse Ackert

    walmart in dunnellon did the same thing…defrosted and refrozen pizza, ice cream etc…

    • Joseph Tarzia Sr.

      WalMart is another place I wouldn’t buy meat or fish.

  • Passlinebet

    I visit from out of state and I’ve noticed what dumps Winn-Dixies typically are

    • Joseph Tarzia Sr.

      And there you go.

  • Isee Whatis

    Thanks for looking out for Ocala OcalaPost !

  • john1967

    I remember when OP did the BOGO story and it took Winn-Dixie a year (literally) to respond.

  • Brent Skinner

    You might want to investigate the Winn Dixie in Belleview on US 301! I have seen meats get refrozen there. They’re also very shady about hiding their prices to charge you more than they should!

  • Jerry3701

    I go to the Marion Oaks Winn Dixie And many times brought back meat and chicken that smelled . they also wrap two types of pork chops and called them center,clearly you can see they are not the same.They do the same with other cuts of meat,I am disabled and don’t drive,where else can I go.I depend on Winn Dixie to give me the best product for my money.

    • Joseph Tarzia Sr.

      You’re not going to get value at Winn Dixie.

      • Jerry3701

        I have no choice.

        • Joseph Tarzia Sr.

          Jerry, how bad is your disability and is that the reason you can’t drive?

          • Jerry3701

            Eye sight and other medical reason

          • Ms Betty

            Senior Services will come to your door and take you where you need to go. Doctor appointments, groceries etc. Check it out.

  • Joseph Tarzia Sr.

    I wouldn’t shop at any Winn Dixie store on a bet, They always seemed seedy. I thought that EVERYONE knew that it’s unsafe to refreeze meat.

    • Kitty

      Their employees apparently don’t give a damn if people get sick. Where are the store managers? No one looking out for our safety?

  • Joseph Tarzia Sr.

    I always shop either at Sam’s Club if I get large pkgs of meat, or Publix for regular shopping. They have a very good selection of BOGO. Great deli, Fantastic bread, (Tuscan Boule’). Can’t beat it.

    • Ms Betty

      Publix is far too expensive. Example: Hellman’s Mayonnaise is 5.98 @ Publx and same size is $3.98 in Wal-Mart. I don’t like going to Wal-Mart but heck the difference is a gallon of gas!!

  • Tony

    The problem also exists in their Seafood coffin freezer as well in Marion Oaks. I have been pointing that out to them for ten years. The freezer mechanic works there practically full time, I am sure corporate has been fully aware of this for years

  • Beth Nobles-Waters

    You must check all items at Winn Dixie. I have found many out of date products still on the shelf. They should take a little more pride in their store!

  • dawn

    They do the EXACT SAME AT DUNNELLON WINNDIXIE… TOLD MANAGERS SEVERAL TIMES AND NO ONE CARES.

  • Jaime A.

    I live in Marion Oaks and this store is a hot mess! I try not to buy anything frozen from there unless I absolutely need it right now. I have in the past purchased several different frozen items from there that had obviously thawed and then been refrozen. Things like ice cream, vegetables and frozen fruit. They don’t do anything about it.

  • nohilderbeast2016

    it’s many of the stores that do this…In the Belleview store I seen a whole cart of deli items left in the middle of the floor…it was their when I went in…and it was there when I left…you really have to check the dates on everything…

  • Carol Batten

    I know the ice cream at the Winn-Dixie in the forest is always soft.It’s impossible to get it home without being soupy.Winn-Dixie isn’t cheap either but I’m boycotting Wal-Mart, so …….

  • Susan Smith

    Just returned-re-frozen ice cream from the winn dixie in Belleview in the Kmart plaza….also told them about how the supposedly frozen bags of strawberries were all soft when I wanted to buy some yesterday…did not seem overly concerned. Did NOT buy the bags of chicken that were BOGO, because they were $12.99 and I could get them at Publix any day for about $6.99….We certainly don’t need two Winn Dixies in Belleview, esp.if this is how they do business….Never will I step foot in that store again…

    • Kitty

      Next time tell the manager or call over their heads to complain.

  • Shyanha

    From the FDA, to ease the minds of folks who have eaten refrozen food: “Once food is thawed in the refrigerator, it is safe to refreeze it without cooking, although there may be a loss of quality due to the moisture lost through thawing. After cooking raw foods which were previously frozen, it is safe to freeze the cooked foods. If previously cooked foods are thawed in the refrigerator, you may refreeze the unused portion. Freeze leftovers within 3-4 days. Do not refreeze any foods left outside the refrigerator longer than 2 hours; 1 hour in temperatures above 90 °F”

    It doesn’t absolve Winn Dixie of mishandling food; however, it’s not a serious safety concern as folks might think. Gross, but not dangerous as long as it remained refrigerated. The FDA puts a 2 hour timer on foods left out of refrigeration.

    • Ms Betty

      Sorry but I don’t believe that re-frozen raw meat is good to eat unless it has been cooked before re-freezing. You can take your chances if you want, but I certainly won’t chance it.

      • Shyanha

        I have! I’m still here and healthy. 🙂

        My intent was only to ease the minds of those who may have eaten refrozen meat. A friendly outreach, if you will, to let them know they’re not on Death’s doorstep just because they ate refrozen meat.

        The FDA also has studies and all that fancy rigmarole to back it up. No one’s forcing you to eat refrozen meat; however, so hooray for that. If we were to end up in a dire situation, though, and it came down to you starving or eating refrozen meat – you’d be safe chancing a bite. 😉

        • Ms Betty

          Not on your life!If it came to that, meat would no longer be in my diet.

          • Shyanha

            Lol, that’s certainly an option! I haven’t met many veggies I like so I’d opt for the meat in lieu of starvation.

            I haven’t noticed any difference in taste when I’ve done it and I haven’t been sick from doing it. However, I was the one who thawed then froze the meat again so I knew how long it had been out. That might be the difference maker!

    • john1967

      Yes, defrosted in a refrigerator that maintains the correct temperature. However, often times when coolers break down the fan will blow hot air, therefore speeding up the defrosting process. As Jerry said, if you open a pack of pork or chicken and it smells, it is certainly not safe to eat. Much of the chicken that Winn-Dixie sells as fresh has previously been frozen. So if it has been defrosted before it even hits the cooler and then sits in a case circulating hot air, it would make perfect since not to eat that chicken.

  • Kitty

    Not so far. But haven’t really checked their chicken. Now I wont buy any from them in any case. When employees roll their eyes and don’t give a damn, it’s time to shop somewhere else.