man speaking in car with caption 'Grocery store secrets REVEALED. all have some disgusting issues that we had to cut out' over image of meat (l) meat product display in grocery store with sign (c) man speaking in car with caption 'Grocery store secrets REVEALED. and when I say mask I mean we have to make it look good and smell good' (r)

The Toidi/Shutterstock @kennythetrainer/TikTok (Licensed) Remix by Caterina Cox

‘Ima just eat air at this point’: Customer shares PSA about pre-seasoned meats at grocery stores

'I’ve been saying meat don’t taste the same no more.'


Braden Bjella


Posted on May 5, 2023

Grocery shopping tips are all over TikTok. Whether it’s someone telling you how to find the best strawberries and blueberries, or someone else offering a warning about shopping for dry goods, numerous tips and tricks about grocery shopping can be learned from the platform.

Now, a user’s clip on TikTok has gone viral after sharing a warning he claims to have received from a viewer.

In a clip with over 1.7 million views as of Friday, TikTok user Kenny (@kennythetrainer) reads the message aloud. The message, which was sent by someone claiming to have worked as a butcher for “some big-name grocery stores,” alleges that “every single piece of meat that came into our stores…all [had] some disgusting issues that we had to cut out, cut off, or mask.”

The messenger goes on to allege that “masking” frequently meant marinating the meat to hide the smell. 

“All of that preseasoned meat you see at the counter, I guarantee is rotten and [has] been seasoned and mixed with onions to make it smell edible,” the messenger claims.

@kennythetrainer Stories from the DM. Grocery store secrets revealed #grocerystory #restaurant #horrorstory #didyouknowthat #health #followformore #fastfood ♬ Spooky, quiet, scary atmosphere piano songs – Skittlegirl Sound

The viewer further claims that seafood seen in display cases at grocery stores is not safe, as “the display doesn’t get cold enough to keep it fresh.” Instead, the messenger advises shoppers to buy frozen seafood.

So are these claims valid?

As far as the “rotten meat” claim goes, it’s possible, but unlikely.

Most likely, the meat is nearing its sell-by date and has begun to change colors. While this won’t affect the taste or safety of the meat, this minor change can put buyers off and make it more difficult to sell. Some butchers may respond to this by marinating their still perfectly safe-to-eat product.

“Nobody’s going to sell you rotten meat knowingly,” butcher James Peisker told Dr. Oz, as quoted in an article for Mashed. “It’s bad for business and it’s not going to work out very well in the long run. Mostly what is being hidden is ‘oxidization’ and ‘little bit of colorization.'” 

What about the fish?

It’s unclear what kind of display case the messenger is referring to. If the messenger is suggesting that the bed of ice that seafood is typically served from is unsafe, they’re wrong — at least, according to the FDA.

“Only buy fish that is refrigerated or displayed on a thick bed of fresh ice (preferably in a case or under some type of cover),” the agency writes on its website. The image for the article even includes fish being served on a bed of ice.

If the messenger is referring to a different kind of display case, it’s possible that they do not reach safe temperatures for fish storage. However, this seems unlikely as, much like the meat example, it simply wouldn’t make sense for grocery stores to keep their fish at unsafe temperatures.

Not only might it dissuade customers from shopping at the stores again, but fish kept at higher temperatures do not last as long as those kept at lower temperatures. As such, grocery stores have a financial incentive to keep these display case temperatures low so they can extend the shelf life of their products.

That said, the messenger’s advice about buying frozen fish is also valid, as most fish in the United States is flash-frozen after it is caught. Buyers can often find lower prices and comparable quality by buying frozen rather than fresh, as the “fresh” fish has likely also been frozen.

Under Kenny’s video, users shared their thoughts on the messenger’s claims in the comments section, with users falling on both sides of the discussion.

“My father’s a butcher and he told us not to purchase marinated meats because the vinegar and spices mask the smell of how badly the meat is,” a commenter claimed.

“Butcher here! That’s not the case for all stores. Where I work at if the meat is bad we throw it away,” another stated.

“Y’all work for some shady places,” a third added. “I worked in the meat department at Wegmans. We took pride in our work. So many procedure[s] to ensure food freshness.”

We’ve reached out to Kenny via TikTok comment.

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*First Published: May 5, 2023, 8:12 am CDT