Some South LA grocery stores spoiled rotten - up to 40 percent of chicken, beef, milk and dairy expired

A USC study of Los Angeles food markets has found high numbers of expired products in low-income neighborhoods.

"It's a quality question," the study's author, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development professor LaVonna Lewis, told the LA Times. "Shouldn't people have access to fresh, healthy foods no matter where they live? It's also a resource question. If you have limited resources, aren't those resources used less effectively if the food you purchase in your neighborhood is quickly out of date?"

The Neighborhood Food Watch campaign started in April 2008 with 90 community members who kept checklists of what they encountered during their food shopping trips.

At the five unnamed grocery stores, up to 40 percent of the poultry, beef, milk and dairy was bad.

On a positive note, if you didn't get sick from the rotten food, you could still buy low sodium, sugar-free and soy or lactose products in 95 percent of stores.

"Lewis said that involving community members in the research is one way of enhancing participation and minimizing distrust among typically marginalized groups. The aim is to build partnerships by training residents in research skills and helping them to identify problems in their own community.

"In this particular survey, 82.8 percent of the Neighborhood Food Watch campaign participants were African American, 10.6 percent were Hispanic/Latino and 90.2 percent were women.

“The quality of foods available to residents - whether it’s in a grocery store or a restaurant - has a tremendous impact on what residents choose to eat, and it also has the potential to affect their long-term health,” said Sloane, who has been studying the role of environments in health disparities in cardiovascular disease and diabetes among African-Americans.

The study was sponsored by the Community Health Councils Inc., a project that addresses healthcare inadequacies in communities

“The results in this particular study reflect the lack of access to quality food products that have been documented nationally in regards to African-American communities and other residents who live in low-income areas," Lewis, told Anna Cearly of USC Media Relations.

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