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Food safety… or not.



J and I frequently have fridge arguments. Specifically over expiry dates. More specifically, he looks at them and I don’t. Perhaps it’s my heritage – never have I lived in a country where milk lasted more than two days in the fridge before going bad, bread could sit on the counter for a week and supermarket sausage still look pink a week later, and never has there been an expiry date on anything other than prescription medicine. 


People could tell when food was going bad just by looks and smell and it’s worked just fine for hundreds of years. If you can’t tell when milk has gone bad, bread is going fuzzy or cheese is growing fur then an expiry date probably can’t help you either. It’s not foolproof after all – the package could have a small leak, could be sealed improperly or any number of things and the onus is on you, the consumer to ensure you don’t kill yourself.


Ever wonder what people used to do before some marketing genius decided to dramatically increase turnover by telling people when to throw food out? Yep, they used to have to rely on their senses to tell them that gosh, them blueberries are growing spores or the orange juice is green. Nowadays cans of soda and croutons have expiry dates, and the biggest joke – salad dressing. Why joke? Well because typically it’s so packed with vinegar, salt and preservatives to begin with, that in the event of nuclear armageddon it would likely be the one item standing, besides the Twinkie. Sour cream and yoghurt are already curdled products and chips get stale when opened, not poisonous.


Now don’t get me wrong, I know there are all sorts of contaminated foods out there floating around as it is – from salmonella tainted spinach to listeria covered meats, but reading the expiry dates didn’t keep anyone from getting sick anyway.  My precautionary measures are pretty simple – keep food cold, cook the surface thoroughly, keep work area clean and decontaminate miscellaneous surfaces, like knobs and such regularly. So far so splendid – I’m pretty much the only person I know that has never had serious food poisoning. Although to be fair, most people get food poisoning when eating out, but maybe my blithe lack of concern about expiry dates primes my immune system to fight off minor contaminations. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.



6 comments to Food safety… or not.

  • I tend to sniff and examine things more than most and have been given no end of grief for it. I got into the habit of using my nose during several months traveling in Eastern Europe and Russia. I still contend that some expiry dates are there just for the amusement of the guys in the plant that produced the item.

  • admin

    That’s exactly what I’m talking about! As my friend put succinctly – if it looks bad, smells bad, tasted bad – it’s bad. Most countries don’t even refrigerate their eggs. They last just fine, and if you ever crack a bad one – trust me, you’ll know!

  • Jean

    People complain that the goverment controls too much of their lives and then they throw their milk out on its expiry date. Expiry dates are guidelines to “sniff, pour carefully or take a little nibble first” in my opinion. The problems we’ve had with food lately don’t have anything to do with their age, it has to do with their processing. We cannot control that. Even though it’s rare to have the meat come to us already bad, it’s just another argument to do as much shopping locally as possible. Then at least you know which bastard to go bop in the nose if you get a case of salmonella poisoning. Turn the brain ON people. There are no little germ missiles programmed from outer space to go off on THAT DATE. I have served and have myself eaten eggs and yogurt a YEAR past their expiry date. The eggs were a little stiff, granted, but they weren’t bad. Generally speaking our food is processed so rigorously at the front end that without cross contamination, and with good refrigeration many food items could freakin’ last forever. Another thought is – not a bad marketing tactic this expiry date business. Get someone to throw their food out and they have to buy more!

  • admin

    I agree 400%. Whoever thought of expiry dates must have been laughing all the way to the bank. Whatever happened to the cans we’re supposed to store in our nuclear fallout shelter for a century? I don’t think canned goods can even go bad under most circumstances.

    Love your acerbic style!

  • I got some nasty food poisoning using expired salad dressing… nasty. After I scoffed at its expiry date too, I remember that. That’s the one date I actually trust now.

  • admin

    LOL – chuck it up to you to buck the trend. I still don’t really know how you’d breed bacteria in a vinegar/salt based solution. You sure it wasn’t the lettuce that wasn’t washed well?

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