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.