Should I eat this or not? October 17, 2015 11:59 PM   Subscribe

After reading this comment on this post, I have to ask, has there ever been an AskMe "can I eat this?" where the answer is 'yes'? Can we just add a line to the faq along the lines of "if you have to ask strangers on the internet, the answer is probably no" or "when in doubt, toss it out"? Or are we just that fascinated by the never-ending parade of putrescent garbage that our dear readers desire to cram in their slavering pie-holes? Discuss.(ting?)
posted by sexyrobot to MetaFilter-Related at 11:59 PM (310 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

Well, there was at least one? I feel like I've seen at least a couple...and, as an admitted asker of whether I could eat some pizza (I didn't eat it, and I'm still sad about it sometimes), I am personally both amused and educated by CIET posts.
posted by zinful at 12:02 AM on October 18, 2015 [8 favorites]


The most common answer is "yes."
posted by John Cohen at 12:03 AM on October 18, 2015 [20 favorites]


Hmm, is there any way to tabulate this not by hand? It seems as if you'd have to look at followups more than answers, because there's some brave people on these filters.
posted by zinful at 12:05 AM on October 18, 2015


Or are we just that fascinated by the never-ending parade of putrescent garbage that our dear readers desire to cram in their slavering pie-holes?

I'd put down $3 that you used a thesaurus for 2 adjectives in that sentence.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:09 AM on October 18, 2015 [6 favorites]


Can I Eat This posts are part of a noble helping tradition that has no doubt saved countless lives. More importantly, if it weren't for CIET posts, we would never have had the gift of the immortal line, "If one can survive cat poop pumpkins, surely a tomato from fallen fruit is fine."
posted by taz (staff) at 12:11 AM on October 18, 2015 [53 favorites]


God I hate to add a serious note to this [but my pie hole isn't slavering] but I have actually learned stuff from those threads. Two things: 1) not all putrefaction smells like it, so be wary and count days, too, and 2) "hell, yes!"
posted by Namlit at 12:28 AM on October 18, 2015 [7 favorites]


I just remembered to put some chicken in the fridge due to a recent CIET Ask, so I say huzzah, slavering pie-hole havers of Metafilter!
posted by Sara C. at 12:34 AM on October 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


I like these if only because, despite the fact that i'm a human garbage disposal who will eat almost anything... there's people out there who will say yes to stuff even i wouldn't.

And i thought my partners mom was bad for leaving meat out for like 12 hours and then just eating it... over and over... for years(HOW DOES SHE NEVER GET SICK?!?! SERIOUSLY)
posted by emptythought at 12:47 AM on October 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also seriously, shout-out to feckless fecal fear mongering who brings the food science / safety facts in a major way to many of these questions (1, 2 for a couple of super quick examples).
posted by taz (staff) at 12:57 AM on October 18, 2015 [43 favorites]


It seems as if you'd have to look at followups more than answers, because there's some brave people on these filters.

Hello, right? I feel like someone clever needs to generate a table that lists:
A) Number of "can I eat this"
B) Number of "Yes" answers
C) Number of posters who were never heard from again.
posted by sexyrobot at 1:10 AM on October 18, 2015 [49 favorites]


"Slavering pie-hole" is not in the thesaurus.
I re-checked.
posted by clavdivs at 1:49 AM on October 18, 2015 [6 favorites]


I love these Asks because I always imagine my Mum - who doesn't believe in best before dates - reading them and rolling her eyes at the delicate flowers who can't stomach perfectly fine, warm, two day old food. If she ran the site the automatic answer would always be "yes of course you can for God's sake, grow up". That some MeFites would cease to comment shortly thereafter would simply be Darwinism at work.
posted by billiebee at 2:52 AM on October 18, 2015 [35 favorites]


Well I can say that I'm the slave of my pie hole. Don't need a thesaurus for that statement. Just look at the empty fridge.
posted by Namlit at 2:53 AM on October 18, 2015


Metafilter: Darwinism takes out the delicate flowers.
posted by Namlit at 2:54 AM on October 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Which is worse, a slavering pie-hole or a ravening pie-hole?
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:25 AM on October 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


That some MeFites would cease to comment shortly thereafter would simply be Darwinism at work.

Realtalk: If you have some food and you are asking people who have never seen the food AND will never see the food, if it's safe to eat...Darwinism is already at work.

These questions remind me of when the IRA made an unsuccessful attempt on Thatcher.

"Today we were unlucky, but remember we only have to be lucky once. You will have to be lucky always."

'Can I eat this' is like that. Them wee beasties need to get lucky only ONCE.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:25 AM on October 18, 2015 [8 favorites]


I just had one! (come for the answer to your question, stay for the horrific tale of grapefruit juice)
posted by Mchelly at 4:25 AM on October 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


I love these Asks because I always imagine my Mum - who doesn't believe in best before dates - reading them and rolling her eyes at the delicate flowers who can't stomach perfectly fine, warm, two day old food. If she ran the site the automatic answer would always be "yes of course you can for God's sake, grow up".

Throwing away perfectly good food is one of those peculiar new traditions in modern America, similar perhaps to liberally prescribing antibiotics at each and every medical check-up or promptly turning up the A/C full blast at the vernal equinox. John Oliver devoted an entire extended segment to all-American unnecessary waste of perfectly good food—and that's not even getting into the amount of preservatives contained in the average supermarket's wares that prolongs their edibility by an order of magnitude. In fact, I eat leftovers for every probably other meal, including anything that doesn't have so much mould on it that I can't scrape it off, and I never, ever get sick from food poisoning.

And that was the last that Metafilter ever heard from Doktor Zed again.
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:38 AM on October 18, 2015 [21 favorites]


I had one!
posted by penguin pie at 5:41 AM on October 18, 2015


There are are many, many, many CIET where the dominant answer is yes. Seriously. TONS.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:53 AM on October 18, 2015


I think these Asks mainly exist so someone can say "eponysterical" to feckless fecal fear mongering.

I've said this before, but really the only way to resolve these is with billiebee's system.
posted by thetortoise at 6:39 AM on October 18, 2015 [10 favorites]


Directly from "Foodsafety.gov" is the following quote which makes it evident that it is critical that we continue to allow and even encourage these questions:

"Long-Term Effects of food poisoning
One in six Americans will get sick from food poisoning this year. Most of them will recover without any lasting effects from their illness. For some, however, the effects can be devastating and even deadly.

Serious long-term effects associated with several common types of food poisoning include:

Kidney failure
Chronic arthritis
Brain and nerve damage
Death
Who's at Risk
Certain groups of people are more susceptible to foodborne illness. This means that they are more likely to get sick from contaminated food and, if they do get sick, the effects are much more serious. These groups include:

Pregnant women
Readers of Metafilter
Older adults
Persons with chronic illnesses"

posted by HuronBob at 6:51 AM on October 18, 2015 [14 favorites]


Honestly, the smell test (mixed with caution and visual inspection) hasn't let me or the wife down yet, so...yeah, that. Sure, we had to throw out a $20+ pot roast because someone set the crock-pot to warm instead of high, but better safe than sorry. Plus pizza is never a bad backup plan.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:16 AM on October 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: the never-ending parade of putrescent garbage
Come on, someone had to do it!

posted by desjardins at 7:37 AM on October 18, 2015 [6 favorites]


Mustard etc, from a fridge with the door cracked open a few hours?
posted by wilko at 8:09 AM on October 18, 2015


I stopped answering CIET questions because I realized my answer was almost always yes. It seemed to me that almost every time, someone would come into the thread and then list all the bacteria and disease associated and say, "It's only $12, throw it out and start again."
posted by AugustWest at 8:13 AM on October 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


Ask MetaFilter: a noble helping tradition
posted by Going To Maine at 8:29 AM on October 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


I recently ate some soaked oatmeal after imagining asking Ask whether it was okay to eat it... and foolishly disregarding the envisioned chorus of "oh god no" responses in favor of my iron-stomached coworker's admonishments. I regretted it.

I am in favor of leaving these open so that other foolish readers can learn from the responses of more cautious posters.
posted by sciatrix at 8:33 AM on October 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


CIET questions are not all alike. For every person asking "Can I eat this 14-month-old tuna casserole? I've been storing it in the attic", there's one asking "Can I eat this peanut butter and jelly sandwich? I made it less than an hour ago, but it was only refrigerated for 15 minutes."
posted by 23skidoo at 8:57 AM on October 18, 2015 [70 favorites]


These questions are fun, because they contain just the right amount of factual information, opinion, and Jack assery that MeFi does well.

Most of the ones I've read are either yes, totally safe, or "well it depends on your risk tolerance..."

My strong feeling is that I have a gut of steel that has developed over years and years of eating questionable foods. And yeah every couple years I'm violently ill for a couple days but I'm ok with that. My aggregate grocery bill is literally tens of dollars less every year due to my willingness to eat things my wife is throwing it out, and my ER copay is low.

Yeah, if you are elderly, on chemotherapy, etc the risk tolerance is vastly different.

It would be fun to see a survey of the questions, I can't think of a way to make it meaningful but my guess is that the majority of advice is to eat it, 50% of OPs actually do eat it, and 100% of eaters were medically fine and satiated by their funky tuna.

(Coincidentally, my wife, the nationally prominent infectious disease doctor, with her ridiculous notions of safety and hygiene, is going through the fridge right at this moment with the compost bin next to her. What the fuck -- it doesn't matter if sauer kraut is 5 years old, it never goes bad, that's the point. I have to admit, the three month old extruded soy "lucky ham" that comes from the Asian market that has developed a slippery white film on it is an edge case, but we literally just had harsh words over her decision to toss it)
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:26 AM on October 18, 2015 [23 favorites]


I should be posting every thing my wife is saying to me right now:

"Do capers go bad?"

"What is this black liquid?"

"Ew. Gross."
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:29 AM on October 18, 2015 [17 favorites]


She says to St. peter, "It was a caper gone bad. A tuna casserole took my husband."

Slavering is pre-ravening. Well yeah, I think that is right.

I was recently attacked by an outdoor pot luck buffet, unless it was dehydration in combination with canning hot pepper sauce. My bet is on the buffet.
posted by Oyéah at 9:54 AM on October 18, 2015


I have eaten
the plums
that were kind
of moldy

and which
Ask....Ask.....
OH GOD
BUTT SURPRISE
posted by barchan at 9:59 AM on October 18, 2015 [34 favorites]


CIET questions are God's way to determine who needs to do more screaming and crying over a toilet.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:08 AM on October 18, 2015 [6 favorites]


  … billiebee's system.

Needs a new second-from-last entry:

[] A month of malodorous aerosol arse, followed by half a year of farting only under very controlled circumstances.

Yeah, giardia'll do that to you.
posted by scruss at 10:19 AM on October 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well, I have always known that cats love cantelope, judging from all the rinds thereof which the cats I have known have dragged out of the garbage all my life, but pumpkins are a new one. Although not surprising, given the family relationship between the two fruit.

Which would make for an interesting Askme question or two.

As in, why do cats like cantelope, anyway?
posted by y2karl at 10:42 AM on October 18, 2015


"Volatiles derived from amino acids are major contributors to melon aroma."¹ This sentence from a research study on melon volatiles may hold the key to why so many cats love cantaloupe. To them, it smells like meat. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. They are what meat is made of. Many of the same amino acids that are in meat are also present in melons, although in much smaller quantities.² We don't know exactly what meat smells like to a cat, but they are hard-wired to be attracted to it and it makes sense that they would be highly sensitive to all of the compounds in meat. The presence of the same volatiles in other foods would naturally interest them."
Read more at http://feline-nutrition.org/the-blogs/cats-and-cantaloupe-a-method-in-their-madness
posted by HuronBob at 10:53 AM on October 18, 2015 [38 favorites]


Also seriously, shout-out to feckless fecal fear mongering who brings the food science / safety facts in a major way to many of these questions

The idea of someone named "feckless fecal fear mongering" laying out some solid scientific truths about food safety is almost too perfect to handle.
posted by Itaxpica at 11:04 AM on October 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


Wow, that was fast. AskHuronBob for new subsite.
posted by y2karl at 11:07 AM on October 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


I stay away from those questions because 99% of the time my immediate answer is "what? yes, why are you asking?" but I'm not American and both eat street food in tropical third world countries and drink untreated river water when camping, so I likely have different cultural and gastro-intestinal reference points to most here.

But seriously, stop throwing away good food.
posted by deadwax at 11:15 AM on October 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


I hate CIET because holy shit the levels of paranoia people have over food and the staggering amount of waste this paranoia generates, I just can't even. It's utter insanity it is.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:20 AM on October 18, 2015 [10 favorites]


easy to say with that username
posted by Namlit at 11:28 AM on October 18, 2015 [13 favorites]


I think some of the things in our fridge would be horrifying to a lot of the people asking these questions.

I really enjoy preserving foods, so the fridge is full of homemade pickles, meat products, and other goodies. And it's getting to that time of year when I start making dry cured meats - the basement stays a pretty consistent 50 degrees or so with a nice amount of humidity, so it's perfect for aging pancetta and prosciutto.

Yes, I hang raw meat in my basement and then eat it. Sometimes it grows a little white mold, but you just scrape that off.

We were gifted an enormous serrano ham for our wedding. It, and the marriage, will be celebrating a one year anniversary next week. The ham is still good. The marriage is still good, too.
posted by backseatpilot at 11:31 AM on October 18, 2015 [27 favorites]


If moldy pancetta is wrong I don't wanna be right.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:34 AM on October 18, 2015


but I'm not American and both eat street food in tropical third world countries and drink untreated river water when camping

Street food is the best, because it is prepared in public and as long as you pick a busy food stand, the food is prepared, sold, and eaten with no delays.

The weird stuff in people's refrigerators, however, creeps me out because there are very few foods for which aging makes things better (and even then, the aging is usually done before it gets to your fridge, rather than being improved by sitting at the back of the fridge for a few more months).
posted by Dip Flash at 11:37 AM on October 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Can I eat what backseatpilot just described? I mean, literally, can I please go to backseatpilot's house and eat all their food?

(Congrats on your ham's one-year birthday and your wedding anniversary!)
posted by Room 641-A at 11:40 AM on October 18, 2015 [6 favorites]


can I please go to backseatpilot's house and eat all their food?
I had the pleasure of doing that during one Metafilter meetup, and it was just as delicious as you might imagine.
posted by peacheater at 11:53 AM on October 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Whenever there's a MeTa post saying "There are too many posts about [x] around here," I picture it being read aloud by the late Andy Rooney. It helps.
posted by duffell at 11:57 AM on October 18, 2015 [19 favorites]


Imagining myself singing Happy Birthday to a cured ham tickles me pink. That'll do pig. That'll do.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:20 PM on October 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


I definitely posted a Can I Eat This under some older username as a younger and much foolisher person where the item in question had already made me very ill, and my question was along the lines of, "So, what do you guys think? Was it just a coincidence, can I eat the rest?" and the answer was unanimously, "Are you insane."

And then I threw it away. Thanks, EatThisFilter!
posted by town of cats at 1:11 PM on October 18, 2015 [14 favorites]


My SO's dad used to specialize in microbiology, and has the worst eating habits of anyone I've ever met. He will, for example, make oatmeal, mix in a bunch of milk, sugar, and nuts and stuff, and then leave it, uncovered, on the stove so he can reheat it the next day... and the next. I've seen him open and eat a container of yogurt dip that had swollen up, commenting that it was extra tangy. I've only seen him get sick once, and he was the world's worst patient. My SO made him some rice after he hadn't eaten for several days, and he decided it was too bland. So he added some Alfredo sauce and red pepper flakes, then didn't eat for another several days after that.

I get that expiration dates are pretty arbitrary, and you run the risk of wasting perfectly good food. But as someone who has gone through the kind of food poisoning where you lose 15 pounds in 8 hours and don't pee for a couple days (pretty sure I should have gone to the hospital!), I'm willing to take the other risk, the risk that I will waste food and not, you know, me.

Capers are good for, like, forever, though.
posted by teponaztli at 1:23 PM on October 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


the item in question had already made me very ill

I was visiting friends in Chicago many years ago, and went to a place called Ribs n' Bibs for barbecue. That evening I got fairly sick. The next day, feeling a little better, I went back to Ribs n' Bibs. Everyone said "wasn't that the place that made you really sick yesterday?" And it was, but I mean - I was just visiting, and when else would I get a chance to eat there again?
posted by teponaztli at 1:27 PM on October 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


If this is the Ribs 'n' Bibs in Hyde Park you made the right call.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 1:30 PM on October 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


brb going to Ribs n Bibs
posted by floweringjudas at 2:26 PM on October 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


Thank you, taz.

"Do capers go bad?"

Yes, they can. Usually a combination of liquid loss and dirty grubby fingers getting in them.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:29 PM on October 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


Can I eat what backseatpilot just described?

Yes, because it's describing dry-aged meat and a cured ham.

But virtually no CIET question deals with these kinds of scenarios. Comparing what backseatpilot is doing to the average CIET question is a dangerous, fallacious conflation. It's like saying aspirin is the same as morphine. Hey, they're both pain-killers, right?

I'd also like an invitation to backseatpilot's dinner party, but CIET questions should be deleted on sight.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:43 PM on October 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Can we barbecue this mammoth we just dug out of the tundra?
posted by Oyéah at 2:49 PM on October 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


A cat from my past life, Sam, once knocked a piece of toast out of my hand as I was raising it to my mouth. It landed butter-side down and I saw that the back side was covered in mold. After that, we relied on Sam to be our food tester and settle CIET questions. If she ate it, we ate it. If she turned up her nose, out it went. Never had any problems. Thanks, Sam!
posted by carmicha at 3:35 PM on October 18, 2015 [25 favorites]


Re: mammoth, yes. Archaeologists in particular consume a bit of everything edible that they find with plenty of booze on the side.
posted by mr. digits at 4:02 PM on October 18, 2015


(and for a historical fun fact, this goes back at least as far as Cambridge's Glutton Club, the most famous member of which was Charles Darwin.)
posted by mr. digits at 4:04 PM on October 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


I like them because they help reduce my paranoia induced food wastage. On one hand, Billibee and I obviously have the same mother (my mother doesn't believe burglers either) on the other I had a flatmate who was even more paranoid than me and we were always throwing out perfectly good food. Mefites provide a calming voice of reason.
posted by kitten magic at 4:05 PM on October 18, 2015


Just as often, the questions are like "I left a block of hard cheese wrapped in plastic on the counter for two whole hours!! Should I toss it?"
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:28 PM on October 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


Also seriously, shout-out to feckless fecal fear mongering who brings the food science / safety facts in a major way to many of these questions

And for surviving the related MeTa! As I recall, that was a rough one.
posted by Room 641-A at 4:28 PM on October 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Should I toss it?

Yes, over here, I have crackers.
posted by arcticseal at 4:34 PM on October 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


Having autistic kids == milk gets poured down the drain the day after the expiration date. It's just too hard to argue that it will probably be fine for another week when the date it goes bad is prominently printed right on the jug.

Slarty Bartfast: "...three month old extruded soy "lucky ham" that comes from the Asian market that has developed a slippery white film on it is an edge case..."

Don rubber gloves. Put that "ham" in a trash bag. Seal it tightly. Put that bag in another trash bag. Seal that one tightly, too. Take it directly outside to the trash. When you come back in, throw your clothes away and boil yourself in bleach.
posted by double block and bleed at 4:36 PM on October 18, 2015 [9 favorites]


My parents used to make stew and then get up in the middle of the night eat it, and then boil it again the next day and eat it for lunch, and then maybe supper.

I myself have a thing of beans, going on since noon. Beans with molasses. Hunkering down in the oven and just sitting there for 6 or 7 hours. Not thinking about it. A plate of beans. Am I going to eat it? Heck yeah!
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:32 PM on October 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: just the right amount of factual information, opinion, and Jack assery

Weird, I just cleaned out the fridge today. The pickled radishes I made back in the spring: out! The slices of Canadian bacon that mr. e fried but didn't finish, and won't eat the leftovers of: out! I debated the jar of olives for a long time, then decided I didn't care enough to keep them. Along with the usual half-a-head of lettuce, a kohlrabi I bought forgetting I was going out of town, and some other this & that. Then wiped down all the shelves. Smells muuuuuuuch better in there.
posted by epersonae at 6:34 PM on October 18, 2015


We were gifted an enormous serrano ham for our wedding.

those are friends you need to keep for the rest of your lives!
posted by poffin boffin at 6:55 PM on October 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


also my favourite recent CIET was the cat lick soup one.
posted by poffin boffin at 6:56 PM on October 18, 2015 [13 favorites]


I just read one of the links to feckless fecal fear mongering's food safety tips, and I had no idea that the whole 2-hour safety window is cumulative. I try to stick pretty closely to USDA guidelines because of my own shitty (har har) experiences with insanely bad food poisoning, but sometimes they can be a little confusing if this isn't something you've been trained in.

Many thanks, fffm!

My sister would eat cat lick soup, but my cat has butt troubles and that kind of puts me in the other camp.
posted by teponaztli at 7:00 PM on October 18, 2015


The cat lick soup was A++, would eat again. Both cat and mefite agree!
posted by kythuen at 7:22 PM on October 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


Mefi Wiki: Should I Eat This
posted by zarq at 7:33 PM on October 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


We all have butt troubles sometimes, teponaztli
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 8:05 PM on October 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Aaaaaaah, the wiki! "I accidentally drank part of a smoothie that included wood" (I also really want to know what happened with the beer from 1994.)
posted by epersonae at 8:24 PM on October 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


christ almighty, I just scared my roommate with my reaction to the wood pulp smoothie link. the wheezing sobs of laughter were probably legit disconcerting. I should stop smoking.

that said, whatev, McDonald's milkshakes totally have cellulose in them, wood pulp is likely nutritious in comparison.
posted by floweringjudas at 8:40 PM on October 18, 2015


None of your "leaving stuff out to cook and reheat" stories have anything on the Chinese master stock, where a single broth is re-used to poach meat over and over again (adding a bit more water as needed) repeatedly for sometimes up to hundreds of years.
posted by Itaxpica at 8:49 PM on October 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have to admit, the three month old extruded soy "lucky ham" that comes from the Asian market that has developed a slippery white film on it is an edge case, but we literally just had harsh words over her decision to toss it

You should do something really nice for her birthday.
posted by invitapriore at 8:57 PM on October 18, 2015 [8 favorites]


Can we barbecue this mammoth we just dug out of the tundra?

According to the documentary series 'Fortitude', which I recently saw, the answer is no; no you shouldn't eat that.
posted by el io at 9:03 PM on October 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm more picky about food safety than many people I know, but for CEIT questions I find myself way out on the yes side compared to most responses. This fear that all your food is going to kill you, it seems to be a particularly American thing (though admittedly, it does seem that some industrial food processing practices are increasing the risk significantly).

Seriously, if the OMG NO crew were actually correct about the risks of eating these foods, the human race would never have survived. We'd have died off long ago.

Risk is such a weird thing in our normal lives. We drive around in cars (incredibly dangerous), we have a whole lot of guns, we do all kinds of stupid things on ladders, we play dangerous sports, etc., but at the same time we are convinced that our food is just waiting to kill us, that strangers will kidnap our children if they are left alone for mere minutes, and so on.
posted by ssg at 12:21 AM on October 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


el io: If 'Fortitude' is a documentary, then I'm leaving this planet.
posted by whitewall at 12:31 AM on October 19, 2015


Seriously, if the OMG NO crew were actually correct about the risks of eating these foods, the human race would never have survived. We'd have died off long ago.

What? I don't think week-old chicken could kill me, I think week-old chicken could make for an absolutely miserable experience that totally isn't worth the risk just because it still looks fine. Nobody likes being sick.
posted by teponaztli at 1:10 AM on October 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


Do capers go bad?"

Yes, they can. Usually a combination of liquid loss and dirty grubby fingers getting in them


what about olives where the liquid is a little low from making dirty martinis? I always make sure to fish them out with a fork and not my grubby fingers...
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:13 AM on October 19, 2015


We all have butt troubles sometimes, teponaztli

Because every butt it hurts
Every butt it cries
So go eat cat lick soup
Butt surprise
posted by thetortoise at 1:23 AM on October 19, 2015 [15 favorites]


what about olives where the liquid is a little low from making dirty martinis? I always make sure to fish them out with a fork and not my grubby fingers...

Top off with brine (salt and water)?

Directly from "Foodsafety.gov" is the following quote which makes it evident that it is critical that we continue to allow and even encourage these questions:

"Long-Term Effects of food poisoning
One in six Americans will get sick from food poisoning this year. Most of them will recover without any lasting effects from their illness. For some, however, the effects can be devastating and even deadly.


Some time ago, a bit of soft cheese made my two cats very sick. After that, they only got yogurt for dairy-based treats.
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:54 AM on October 19, 2015


that has no doubt saved countless lives

Never had any complaints from dead guys.
posted by Segundus at 3:53 AM on October 19, 2015


An open MetaTalk discussion on food safe to eat? By all means, letteuce.
posted by Smart Dalek at 3:54 AM on October 19, 2015


With CIET threads it often seems like there's an inversely proportional relationship between the cost of the item in question and the number of paragraphs (and followup comments) written in the question:

Expensive, fancy piece of meat accidentally left in a hot attic overnight? Two or three sentences.

Ninety-nine cent bunch of parsley bought at the grocery store three weeks ago, then forgotten in the back of the fridge and kind of slimy and partly-but-not-totally black? Wall of text including the recipe in which the OP had planned to use the parsley, bullet points listing of all the reasons they really, really hope it's OK to eat, anecdotal citations of friends and relatives who have eaten three week old parsley with no problems, Obscure USDA links, multiple follow-up questions/clarifications when everyone responds "Um, it's parsley. Just throw it out and buy a new bunch." (See also: "Should I put my dick on the hot stovetop?" questions.)
posted by usonian at 4:08 AM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


I had food poisoning a year ago from undercooked beef. So sick for several days, took a month to get back to normal. A lot of food these days is contaminated with e.coli. Not like when we were kids, not like even not all that long ago when meat was cut in more sanitary conditions and maybe even inspected, maybe a lot more food was local. Factory farming isn't clean. I'll take certain food risks, including some pretty ancient capers recently, but i've gotten more conservative.
posted by theora55 at 5:27 AM on October 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Capers are good for, like, forever, though

>XP Ugh, capers are never good. #leastfavorite"food"item
posted by sexyrobot at 5:33 AM on October 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Exactly, capers are place holders in the fridge, a small jar that is always there and only opened on the rare occasions that a recipe needs the tiniest bit for some obscure balance.
posted by sammyo at 5:45 AM on October 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


I like capers. They go on pizzas and salads, and they're nice in pasta sauces too.
posted by Too-Ticky at 5:50 AM on October 19, 2015 [8 favorites]


Wow, capers can be used for things other than bagels and lox? I never knew.
posted by thetortoise at 6:16 AM on October 19, 2015


They are good for nothing but tasting like disease.
posted by sexyrobot at 6:37 AM on October 19, 2015 [8 favorites]


Wow, capers can be used for things other than bagels and lox? I never knew.

Wait, what? Capers go in pasta sauces - that's it.
posted by chainsofreedom at 6:37 AM on October 19, 2015


When I find capers in a sauce, my immediate reaction is that several tiny roaches somehow made their way into the saucepan. The taste and texture is about what I'd imagine from little bugs that have been cooked through until tender. Gross gross gross gross gross gross gross gross gross gross.
posted by duffell at 6:42 AM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


I like capers in all sorts of things. (Try it in tuna salad! Not the kind you would make with relish!) But the ultimate CIEI dish re capers has to be steak tartare.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:43 AM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


hal_c_on: "These questions remind me of when the IRA made an unsuccessful attempt on Thatcher.

"Today we were unlucky, but remember we only have to be lucky once. You will have to be lucky always."

'Can I eat this' is like that. Them wee beasties need to get lucky only ONCE.
"

It must be said, it turned out she *was* lucky always.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:51 AM on October 19, 2015


Capers are an important part of chicken piccata, and nothing involved in chicken piccata is a bad thing.
posted by meese at 6:58 AM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


At this point, I think of "should I eat this" questions as an essential part of MeFi's folk culture, a ritual in which we perform and reinforce our core, collective values of helpfulness, compassion, and broad-based cluelessness about basic food safety. I think we'd regret FAQing them.
posted by ryanshepard at 7:18 AM on October 19, 2015 [19 favorites]


Good lord, what is this unseemly anti-caper bias? Capers go in all kinds of things. They add a bright, briny lemon note to all kinds of rice, pasta and grain dishes and even to some dishes with white beans - gigantes beans with a tomato-caper sauce are really tasty. They are good on cheese sandwiches. They go inside omelets if the omelet filling is mostly cream cheese.

IMO, however, you want to get the better capers, not the cheapest ones, unless you're using them in something already strongly flavored.

What's next, someone is going to suggest that, like, black bean sauce or something is gross and should be avoided?

I don't know - I've witnessed many controversial moments on metafilter, but it's this that shakes my faith.
posted by Frowner at 7:19 AM on October 19, 2015 [14 favorites]


capers are the nast
posted by poffin boffin at 7:21 AM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry but black bean sauce IS gross. It boggles my mind that it's so popular. Boo hiss to black bean sauce!
posted by h00py at 7:23 AM on October 19, 2015


In fact, I would never know if I was eating black bean sauce that had gone off. I seriously wouldn't be able to tell.
posted by h00py at 7:24 AM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Best Before Date does not equal Expiration Date.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:26 AM on October 19, 2015


Oh WOW, caper and cream cheese omelet. This had never occurred to me and now i know what I'm having for breakfast next work from home day!
posted by crush-onastick at 7:43 AM on October 19, 2015


as i drunkenly checked metafilter from bed last night, this thread saved my (chinese) black bean chicken. so thanks! keep up the good work!
posted by nadawi at 7:56 AM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


This thread is great because I learned why prosciutto pairs so well with melon.
This thread is not great because I have lost confidence in the delicious oxtail stew that I have already reheated once.

Even CIET meta-threads are useful.
posted by Svejk at 8:00 AM on October 19, 2015


Because every butt it hurts
Every butt it cries
So go eat cat lick soup
Butt surprise


So I've had this idea for years and years but keep not making it happen, and so maybe I'll just put it out there and if someone in the world goes with it, so be it, but: you know the video for the original song, Everybody Hurts? You know how it's just long slow tracking shots in black and white of unhappy people sitting in traffic, thinking subtitled thoughts about their life? And what if you changed it from "Hurts" to "Poops", and made it tracking shots in black and white of people sitting on various toilets? And they were just thinking thoughts about related things? But it was all really straight-faced? And it would probably really really kill for the very specific demographic of people who (a) even remember that video and (b) like poop jokes basically.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:42 AM on October 19, 2015 [27 favorites]


I can see that. And when the hopeful strings swell at the end, cu to slow motion shots of everyone's face turning to that thank gawd the BM happened and is over beatific relief.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:01 AM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


I learned the sad way that I cannot go through a Costco jar of capers on my own before it goes bad. And yes, it goes bad.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:30 AM on October 19, 2015


I just had one! (come for the answer to your question, stay for the horrific tale of grapefruit juice)

I brought that up on the podcast because I loved it so much!

Oh WOW, caper and cream cheese omelet.

My sister's favorite sandwich when she was little was grilled cream cheese and olive. I thought it was gross when I was a child (though I thought most things that weren't tuna salad were gross), but I've really come to love it. It's tangy and salty and just splendid!
posted by Greg Nog at 9:32 AM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Just how long is fish lasagne good for, anyway? When stored under a cardigan?
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:34 AM on October 19, 2015 [13 favorites]


It's best before the cardigan full incorporates; you want just a gentle threading between the sweater and the cheese, enough to have a sense of tension but it should still pull away easily.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:35 AM on October 19, 2015 [9 favorites]


It's fine if you just carded it, but the risk goes up when you card again
posted by Greg Nog at 9:39 AM on October 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


When I find capers in a sauce, my immediate reaction is that several tiny roaches somehow made their way into the saucepan.

On the bright side, tossing some capers in my puttanesca sauce provides me with plausible deniability about all the tiny roaches in there.
posted by ernielundquist at 9:53 AM on October 19, 2015 [12 favorites]


If you get the large capers (about the size of a grape, usually with stem still attached) toss them in a very light tempura batter (rice flour, quickly whisk in enough ice-cold soda water to make a thin batter--a bit thinner than a crepe batter, you want it to just barely cling to the item) then deep fry very quickly. No salt needed.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:17 AM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Just how long is fish lasagne good for, anyway?

I'm thinking it's kind of a stretch to assume it was good to begin with.
posted by zarq at 10:38 AM on October 19, 2015 [18 favorites]


And what if you changed it from "Hurts" to "Poops", and made it tracking shots in black and white of people sitting on various toilets?

Then Tarō Gomi would tell you to cease and desist.
posted by octobersurprise at 10:44 AM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am so excited about the idea of tuna salad with capers!

What about chicken salad? I must investigate.
posted by winna at 10:45 AM on October 19, 2015


I prefer chicken salad with garam masala and apples but ymmv. Chopped capers in tuna salad are amazing--don't bother seasoning, they'll hit enough salt.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:51 AM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


If you get the large capers (about the size of a grape, usually with stem still attached) toss them in a very light tempura batter (rice flour, quickly whisk in enough ice-cold soda water to make a thin batter--a bit thinner than a crepe batter, you want it to just barely cling to the item) then deep fry very quickly. No salt needed.

This might be me not getting the joke but I believe you're talking about caper berries there, which are the fruits (or whatever) of the same plant that capers come from; capers being the plant's flower buds.

And yes, caper berries are awesome! I'll have to try tempura-frying them.
posted by XMLicious at 10:56 AM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


yeah sorry tend to use the terms interchangeably
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:59 AM on October 19, 2015


My kids (2 and 4) snack on capers straight out of the fridge. We've had to ration them. They'd eat half a jar if I let them.
posted by Omnomnom at 11:08 AM on October 19, 2015


I'll happily eat a jar of pickled onions on their own. My mother would shudder.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:09 AM on October 19, 2015


I think CIET questions are fascinating. There's also a very U.S. American mindset to most of them, I guess cultivated by the FDA, which has a very conservative approach.

I can't read too many of them at once, because the preponderance of the FDA and local food safety guidelines kind of gets to me. And I'm born/bred in the U.S. to be assimilationist, and I'm only half Chinese/Taishanese (the other half white).

But I think if my Taishanese folks were answering all the CIET questions, the answer would be a 99.5% resounding YES! But then my Taishanese relatives and ancestors eat stuff like room-temperature cured dried pork sausages, thousand year eggs, fermented spiced tofu, steamed salt fish with pork, and (let's face it) fish sauce, shrimp paste, and other things lovingly fermented to well beyond other folks' ideas of expiration dates. And to be perfectly honest, the weird fermented shit Chinese eat is so basic compared to some of the stuff that's commonplace in the rest of the world.

Some foods you don't know are ready until they're basically spoiled in everyone else's minds.

Watch the new food/new cuisine documentaries. Or Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre Foods. There are lots of lovingly cultivated/cured/fermented/marinated things out there that are basically so far worse than things left out on the counter for hours or days.

All this said, yes, you are absolutely risking horrible diseases and poisonings if you eat stuff you left out too long at room temperature. But it's also not as bad as the FDA or the health department says. They write and enforce extremely conservative policies so they can statistically do the most effective and consistent good.
posted by kalessin at 11:13 AM on October 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'll happily eat a jar of pickled onions on their own.

Me too! In fact I did exactly that two days ago and I'm drooling at the thought. I'll also eat a jar of pickled beetroot and also gherkins - yum. (Although I'm not as bad as my friend who literally drinks the vinegar left in the pickled onion jar. I have standards.)
posted by billiebee at 11:28 AM on October 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


Wow, capers can be used for things other than bagels and lox? I never knew.

Wait, what? Capers go in pasta sauces - that's it.


I have frequently encountered capers as a lox-and-bagels option on both coasts. Good, but aggravating, unless they adhere sufficiently to the cream cheese (otherwise, it's a lox-and-bagels-and-rolling-capers deal).
posted by thomas j wise at 11:29 AM on October 19, 2015


kalessin: ...my Taishanese relatives and ancestors eat stuff like room-temperature cured dried pork sausages, thousand year eggs, fermented spiced tofu, steamed salt fish with pork, and (let's face it) fish sauce, shrimp paste, and other things lovingly fermented to well beyond other folks' ideas of expiration dates.

But would they "consume a divorced and/or dead man's liquor [they] found in the trash next to pharmaceutical literature"? Or would that be a balut too far, so to speak?
posted by zarq at 11:30 AM on October 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


my Taishanese relatives and ancestors eat stuff like room-temperature cured dried pork sausages, thousand year eggs, fermented spiced tofu, steamed salt fish with pork, and (let's face it) fish sauce, shrimp paste, and other things lovingly fermented to well beyond other folks' ideas of expiration dates.

The difference is that those things are created in relatively controlled ways that minimize or eliminate the risk of unwanted pathogens.

Good, but aggravating, unless they adhere sufficiently to the cream cheese (otherwise, it's a lox-and-bagels-and-rolling-capers deal).

People who don't Get that you use the cream cheese as glue for the capers are guilty of what my chef calls Indifferent Sandwiches. This is, naturally, a crime for which the punishment is to eat slippery things on too-firm bread so they always slide out the end and you are left with some moist bread and a pile of fillings.

Down with Indifferent Sandwiches!
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:32 AM on October 19, 2015 [12 favorites]


room-temperature cured dried pork sausages, thousand year eggs, fermented spiced tofu, steamed salt fish with pork, and (let's face it) fish sauce, shrimp paste, and other things lovingly fermented to well beyond other folks' ideas of expiration dates.

And similarly to backseatpilot, what's described here are all cured by salt, vinegar or similar fermentation/curing techniques that inhibit or prevent bacterial growth.

Comparing these (tasty, tasty) food items to a CIET piece of chicken left out overnight is not even in the same ballpark.

"I eat kimchi all the time, and that's fermented, so I'm sure that last drumstick will be A-OK!"

Fermented and cured ≠ spoiled or sketchy.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:37 AM on October 19, 2015 [15 favorites]


Yeah, I mean... cheese is just rotten milk, right? Wine is just rotten grapes!

Wrong. It's carefully controlled rotting (as is all fermentation) to minimize risk. Comparing those kinds of processes to "hey I left raw meat on the counter all night in the middle of the summer, totes cool to eat it yeah?" is muddying the waters, to say the least.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:41 AM on October 19, 2015 [18 favorites]


kalessin: room-temperature cured dried pork sausages

Also, it's probably worth mentioning that in many cases, salami, pepperoni, chorizo, etc., are in fact cured at room temperature. An interesting topic. High acidity, salt and nitrites are typically used to delay or outright prevent the growth of the kinds of bacteria that spoil meat, because otherwise curing a meat at room temperature creates a haven for 'em.
posted by zarq at 11:42 AM on October 19, 2015


Shoulda previewed.
posted by zarq at 11:43 AM on October 19, 2015


Also, shoulda googled. This is cool, though.
posted by zarq at 11:45 AM on October 19, 2015


Oh, fun trick I've learned where I'm working now. If you want to eat fish tomorrow, buy it (fresh fresh fresh) today. Sprinkle liberally on all sides with salt, put on a rack over a pan, and leave in the fridge for one hour. Rinse, pat dry, and leave to air-dry in the fridge (skin side up if attached and you want crispy skin) on a rack overnight. Then sautee or whatever--the slight moisture loss really firms up the flesh and it cooks better.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:47 AM on October 19, 2015 [23 favorites]


fffm, that trick also works with skin-on chicken before roasting it (either pieces or the whole bird) and is a sure way to get deliciously crispy chicken skin, if you're into that sort of thing.

I would never have thought to do it with fish, but now I know what I'm doing for dinner tomorrow. Thanks!
posted by gauche at 11:51 AM on October 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


The difference is that those things are created in relatively controlled ways that minimize or eliminate the risk of unwanted pathogens.

So, my wife got me this great book all about fermented foods of all kinds. There are instructions for how (if you find yourself in the artic) a perfectly good thing to do with fish is to dig a pit and then start to build a big pile of salmon in it as the average temperature starts to drop, then cover it. That's it. It then goes on to point out that you a) shouldn't ever do this in plastic buckets and b) if you didn't grow up making and eating this, you shouldn't start now.

There's actually a surprising amount of pit digging in the book

Anyway, yeah, food traditions that have been established for hundreds or thousands of years are a whole different thing than sweater lasagna.
posted by Gygesringtone at 11:51 AM on October 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


fffm, that trick also works with skin-on chicken before roasting it (either pieces or the whole bird) and is a sure way to get deliciously crispy chicken skin, if you're into that sort of thing.

Yup, it works with basically everything (extremely useful for duck breasts for ex), it's just thta fish is the most dramatic result.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:54 AM on October 19, 2015


This all has just reminded me of a thread I was reading a while ago about things NI parents say, and someone's Da told them "Don't waste good bread. No need to throw it out til it looks like a Smurf." which made me laugh til I cried.
posted by billiebee at 11:55 AM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sprinkle liberally on all sides with salt, put on a rack over a pan, and leave in the fridge for one hour. Rinse, pat dry, and leave to air-dry in the fridge (skin side up if attached and you want crispy skin) on a rack overnight.

Out of curiosity, how salty is the final product?
posted by zarq at 11:55 AM on October 19, 2015


Not very, zarq. You'll want to hold back a titch on seasoning right before cooking. The cure is so fast that there's not a lot of penetration into the flesh.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:59 AM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


There's also a very U.S. American mindset to most of them, I guess cultivated by the FDA, which has a very conservative approach.

That may be true, and then, there's also a nordic versus not so nordic aspect. In Sweden, we have one single "rotting month," which is August. it blissfully and innocently combines the advent of some fruit flies, high-ish temperatures, and higher-than-otherwise humidity. It basically implies that you need to buy fewer tomatoes or you'll get mould on some of them. If, on the other hand, I get some hamburger out of the fridge during the right time of year in Virginia, and let it linger for a while on the counter, I'll die. So there's that.
posted by Namlit at 11:59 AM on October 19, 2015 [10 favorites]


I am so excited about the idea of tuna salad with capers!

It is THE BEST: the capers act as little tangy flavor bombs against the smoothness of the mayo. joseph conrad and I argue over how many capers to add; I am always on the side of "more caper".
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:02 PM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


ps you can make a kind of pesto with capers just saying

and fresh nasturtium leaves are delightful in a salad
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:03 PM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Cool! Thanks, fffm.
posted by zarq at 12:06 PM on October 19, 2015


What about chicken salad? I must investigate.

I don't know, but as Ina would say, How bad could it be? Another thing that is delicious though is using salmon. Canned is great for a tuna alternative, fresh (cooked, cooled, flaked) makes it a touch more klassy.
posted by Room 641-A at 1:04 PM on October 19, 2015


Yeah, no, it's true that a lot of the things kalessin mentions are the result of carefully controlled fermentation (or chemical processing these days to replace lengthy and therefore expensive fermentation periods). However, my experience tallies with theirs -- Chinese people generally have a much more laid-back idea of how long you can leave stuff out and eat it.

For example, my mother sneers at the FDA-recommended idea of defrosting things in the refrigerator, and/or only freezing/defrosting things once. My father laughs about the time when, on a family trip to Hong Kong 25 years ago, we were waiting for the bank to open, so we could exchange our USD for HKD. So were waiting outside, and there happened to be a butcher's shop next door getting a delivery of their meat, which involved involved whole hog carcasses getting heaved off a truck. . . .

and onto, basically, onto the tiled floor of the butcher's shop, that also served as the public entryway into the store. To be left there until it was time to cut it up.

And little ol' suburban American grocery store raised, meat-under-cellophane me was o_O O_o o_O O_o over how the carcasses just got slapped onto the tile floor of the butcher's shop and left there until the butcher's clerks wandered over to take them back to be cut up. When we left the bank after getting our money changed, I think the pig was still there, a good half hour later. And my dad had a new story to tell his friends about just how American his kids were.

So yeah. Americans, particularly white Americans, are widely considered to be fucking paranoid about food safety by a lot of Chinese people, who grew up in countries where a lot less stuff is (was) refrigerated.

(On the other hand, the laid-back American attitude towards washing fruits and vegetables horrifies my parents, who grew up in a Hong Kong when human waste was regularly used to fertilize fields. I'll never forget the time I tried to explain to my mother that the lettuce in the clamshell salad was pre-washed and didn't need to be washed again.

"WHY WOULD YOU BELIEVE THEM? WHAT IF THEY DIDN'T DO A GOOD JOB?"

She considers the scandal a while back with people getting food poisoning from vegetables grown with contaminated water as, like, just rewards for the people -- who, in her mind, are either white or LAZY SECOND GENERATION KIDS WHO SHOULD KNOW BETTER -- don't wash things properly.)
posted by joyceanmachine at 1:07 PM on October 19, 2015 [14 favorites]


ps you can make a kind of pesto with capers just saying

Sure, sure. You can make a kind of guacamole with peas, too. Also, you can make a kind of pizza with bugs and tufts of hair. Whatever floats your gross boat.
posted by Cookiebastard at 1:17 PM on October 19, 2015 [16 favorites]


'pesto' is a word like 'salsa,' one that has entered English with a very specific meaning while the meaning in its own language is more general. You're thinking of pesto Genovese.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:27 PM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Chinese people generally have a much more laid-back idea of how long you can leave stuff out and eat it.

Heh. Well, my partner and I are Chinese, and we recently used milk that was 1.5 months past the expiry date to cook (for ourselves; we'd never do this if we were going to feed others) after the milk shockingly passed the taste/smell test. They may not be pumping the cows with hormones anymore, but what preservatives are there these days?

On the other hand, the laid-back American attitude towards washing fruits and vegetables horrifies my parents, who grew up in a Hong Kong when human waste was regularly used to fertilize fields.

My mother was mainly concerned with pesticide residue. To the extent she welcomed the presence of live caterpillars and other bugs in her fresh greens.
posted by peripathetic at 1:28 PM on October 19, 2015


The reason you wash your fruit and veg is this:

Farms and orchards are enormous. The workers are paid piecemeal. Time not spent picking is money out of their pocket. And they need to take a shit.

You can put the pieces together, now, and whenever you see a fruit or veg, realize that someone with hands and a butt they poop out of picked that for you. And now your going to put it in your mouth.

Bon apetite!
posted by five fresh fish at 1:33 PM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


So, my wife got me this great book all about fermented foods of all kinds. There are instructions for how (if you find yourself in the artic) a perfectly good thing to do with fish is to dig a pit and then start to build a big pile of salmon in it as the average temperature starts to drop, then cover it. That's it. It then goes on to point out that you a) shouldn't ever do this in plastic buckets and b) if you didn't grow up making and eating this, you shouldn't start now.

kiviak!
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:34 PM on October 19, 2015


I have made my own Chinese "rice wine". Yep, i scrub out the fermenting vessels and even sanitize them. I also clean all the other things like the water locks and the other paraphernalia. But in the end, I steam glutinous rice that I assume but cannot verify is sanitary (certainly not sterile, and the steam isn't hot enough to sterilize every possible pathogen). I also buy a white dried ball made mostly of cultivated mold and yeast, which I crush in a mortar with a pestle and then mix with the rice. Then I let it sit for a few days. Eventually I get a sweet, slightly fermented product. I can filter out the lees or eat them, after scraping off the mold. It's all very casual, and done at room temperature. Things sit for days. Certainly we could make the argument that the majority of the microbes involved in the process are the cultivated, intentional ones, but there's also a strong possibility of hitchhikers in the process.

Compared to the ultraprecise, extremely sterile work I did in a biochem lab as a teenager intern, cloning plant tissue (opium poppies) into undifferentiated tissue, the protocols I followed, I may as well make the rice wine in a well-frequented locker room using paper plates and plastic bags.

For sure fermentations done for the purpose of creating edible products are intentionally designed to be easy to keep sanitary enough to not kill folks or make them sick. But many not to FDA standards or other health organizations' standards. Just to pragmatic standards fitting the context of where the foods are produced.
posted by kalessin at 1:34 PM on October 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


I like reading CIET questions because then I get to see how many times I should have died by now.

While I'm sure the often-referenced official food safety guidelines are useful information for some, it's easy to find online and not particularly helpful for me. Of course I know the government won't officially tell you that you can survive eating meat left at room temperature for 2 hours and 3 seconds, because they know they'll get sued if a single person with a crappy immune system gets sick. Of course I know that eating it past that 2h window is not a 0% risk. Not everyone needs a 0% risk. What I want to know is how big the risk is - do most people who eat that regret it? I can get a pretty good sense of my personal risk by seeing the range of responses and comparing that to where I seem to fall on the "iron-stomach" scale.

That said, I haven't asked any CIET questions yet because I'm so far down that scale that if I'm actually unsure whether I should eat something, I'm likely to get an overwhelming series of "OMG what's wrong with you, don't eat that, you will die". So instead of wasting my time polling AskMe I just throw it out like a sane person take a tiny nibble and see if I die.
posted by randomnity at 2:08 PM on October 19, 2015


after the milk shockingly passed the taste/smell test.

Which, as I keep saying over and over and over and over, is not a test with any valid results beyond "this is definitively bad."

They may not be pumping the cows with hormones anymore, but what preservatives are there these days?

Pasteurization, not preservatives--we're so conditioned to pitch milk as fast as possible that there's no point in adding preservatives AFAIK.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:17 PM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


there happened to be a butcher's shop next door getting a delivery of their meat, which involved involved whole hog carcasses getting heaved off a truck. . . .

and onto, basically, onto the tiled floor of the butcher's shop, that also served as the public entryway into the store. To be left there until it was time to cut it up.


One of my vivid memories from being in the Soviet Union in the 80s was of staring down at a woman who was selling unwrapped, plucked chicken carcasses that had been laid out in rows on a layer of newspaper on a public sidewalk in Moscow.

And of soda vending machines with a single re-useable glass for all comers.
posted by not that girl at 2:18 PM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Can I store books in boxes that held bananas treated with Thiabendazole and/or Azoxystrobin?
posted by clavdivs at 2:23 PM on October 19, 2015


Oh, fun trick I've learned where I'm working now. If you want to eat fish tomorrow, buy it (fresh fresh fresh) today. Sprinkle liberally on all sides with salt, put on a rack over a pan, and leave in the fridge for one hour. Rinse, pat dry, and leave to air-dry in the fridge (skin side up if attached and you want crispy skin) on a rack overnight. Then sautee or whatever--the slight moisture loss really firms up the flesh and it cooks better.

There are some Japanese restaurants where I live on the West coast that have been doing this to salmon for years. The collar part or palm-shaped fillets are lightly dry-cured overnight, then when a customer orders they put it under the salamander broiler.

I am not familiar with culinary history of Japan but there it is called Shizoake, 塩鮭 "salt salmon". (It should not taste very salty, it's just fillet with a firmer texture.)
posted by polymodus at 2:36 PM on October 19, 2015


So, my freshman year in college we had a biochem major living in our dorm. He was a great guy, and at one point he insisted that he could make wine in his dorm room (we were all young and broke and under the legal drinking age, so this seemed like a swell idea.) He had a really sketchy set of of gallon glass bottles, fruit and yeast. He would put a balloon over the mouth of the bottles to "control" the fermentation process. As you can guess, this did not work out well. A bunch of guys decided to start downing the "wine", and were violently / spectacularly ill for a week. I am so glad I never touched the stuff. Looking back we probably should have taken those guys to the hospital. They were that sick.
posted by Benway at 3:14 PM on October 19, 2015


Chinese people generally have a much more laid-back idea of how long you can leave stuff out and eat it.

Does China have an equivalent of the Pure Food and Drug Act, and a federal bureau with a $4 billion annual budget?

In other words, are they laid back because they're laid back? Or are they laid back because there's no other option?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:44 PM on October 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Which, as I keep saying over and over and over and over, is not a test with any valid results beyond "this is definitively bad."

I know your comment wasn't intended to be shitty, and it seems like you care a lot about making sure that proper facts about food safety get presented. It also sounds like you're frustrated with what you see as bad folk wisdom/common folk practices that cause people to get sick. And I'm not speaking on behalf of peripathetic.

But like, dude? If you're white, and unless you and peripathetic have a history of discussing this stuff that isn't apparent -- please consider how you choose to phrase NO YOU'RE WRONG WRONG WRONG AS I KEEP SAYING OVER AND OVER AND OVER to people of color talking about how their ethnic/cultural background influences their personal choices about food consumption.

Because that part of your comment really rubbed me the wrong way.
posted by joyceanmachine at 3:46 PM on October 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


Then you entirely misunderstood the statement.

Fact: not all forms of food spoilage will release bad odours.

Fact: smelling/tasting food cannot tell you definitively if it is okay to eat.

These are value-neutral propositions, and they are rooted in scientific facts. You are factually wrong that tasting something can tell you for sure that it's okay to eat (e.g. e. coli contamination produces no odours). There is nothing whatsoever to do with anyone's ethnicity in that statement, any more than saying water is wet.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:53 PM on October 19, 2015 [14 favorites]


China has this, Cool Papa Bell:
The CODEX Alimentarius, associated with the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, lists the CCFA, hosted by China, which is the Codex Committee on Food Additives, summarized as "(a) to establish or endorse permitted maximum levels for individual food additives; (b) to prepare priority lists of food additives for risk assessment by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives; (c) to assign functional classes to individual food additives; (d) to recommend specifications of identity and purity for food additives for adoption by the Commission; (e) to consider methods of analysis for the determination of additives in food; and (f) to consider and elaborate standards or codes for related subjects such as the labelling of food additives when sold as such."

China has problems with government corruption, certainly, as well as other ethical issues, but it seems they're not so backwards that there's no other option.
posted by kalessin at 3:57 PM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


I did not misunderstand your statement. Like, at all. Believe me.

I'm just pointing out that there are more abrasive ways to talk about scientific facts. And there are less abrasive ways to do it.

You're apparently doubling down on the idea that because what you say is so grounded in facts, you don't need to care about the feelings of people of color. Please examine that sentiment.
posted by joyceanmachine at 3:57 PM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


What feelings exactly are you talking about? I didn't say anything about food traditions in any particular ethnic, racial, or geographic group. In fact I pointed out that everything mentioned above is a time-tested procedure for minimizing contamination and risk.

If your feelings are hurt by a simple statement of fact, I really don't know what to say to you. It is not possible to determine that an at-risk food is safe to eat solely by smell or taste. What on earth does that have to do with your heritage?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:01 PM on October 19, 2015 [7 favorites]


What on earth does that have to do with your heritage?

Dude, in response to a comment about how different cultures have different standards of food safety, somebody basically said that because they and their partner were Chinese, they did a thing that at least some Americans would not have done.

You then made a comment that I read as basically saying how they was WRONG and NOT BASED ON SCIENCE and UGH HAVEN'T I REPEATED MYSELF ENOUGH?????

I mean, I didn't go and find a fainting couch after reading it. But I was annoyed. And your subsequent comments are annoying me more. I mean, it sounds like you are unaware of how often people of color get told by white people, in language much like yours, that what they do is WRONG and NOT BASED ON SCIENCE with heavy overtones of UGH HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU STUPID BACKWARDS IMMIGRANTS/NON-WHITE PEOPLE STOP DOING IT YOUR STUPID BACKWARDS WAY?

Alternatively, you could have just said, "I've mentioned this before a lot, but the way that something smells/tastes is not a reliable indicator about contamination and risk."

And I would have been 10000000% fine, and appreciated the reminder, because God knows I use the same faulty metric. The only time I've ever gotten badly sick from food was from eating ground meat that, as far as I could tell, smelled completely fine and tasted pretty good.

But no, you're doubling down, and tripling down, and pretty much much giving a master class in what happens when people of color point out to white people that something they've said has been unintentionally not-great. You're particularly following the script for people who believe they don't have to care because they have facts and science on their side. Congratulations! You're both right, and being kind of a dick on the Internet.
posted by joyceanmachine at 4:25 PM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


China also has somewhat more stringent ways of disciplining than the FDA.

China executes two over tainted milk powder scandal
posted by sammyo at 4:27 PM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


You can do with the information whatever you choose to do. I am only saying that it is, as you say, a faulty metric. It has nothing whatsoever to do with skin colour or ethnicity, and I'm not going to pretend that facts are other than what they are. Nor am I going to be lectured for meanings which were neither intended nor implied by anything I said. For example:

with heavy overtones of UGH HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU STUPID BACKWARDS IMMIGRANTS/NON-WHITE PEOPLE STOP DOING IT YOUR STUPID BACKWARDS WAY?

There was no such overtone whatsoever, and if you'll look through the asks where I answer questions about food safety my responses are exactly the same.

I am not responsible for your faulty understanding of what I said, nor am I responsible for any made-up motives or meanings you choose to ascribe to me. At no time and in no way did I ever say anything even remotely what you are claiming my overtones were, and I will thank you to not act as though I am responsible for that.

Water is wet. The statement I made was as unconnected to any identifiable human grouping, and as uncontroversial, as that one.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:34 PM on October 19, 2015 [10 favorites]


fffm, I say this with all due love and appreciation - stop digging.
posted by Deoridhe at 4:38 PM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


fffm, please drop it now.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 4:53 PM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Doing a little light reading and found this fascinating resource: Food Poison Journal.

On preview, seems like the discussion has been shut down.
posted by clavdivs at 4:57 PM on October 19, 2015


That's awesome, thanks clavdivs.
posted by kalessin at 5:03 PM on October 19, 2015


I just want to say that I love these types of questions and wish we could somehow flip the number of dating/relationship questions with the "Can I eat this?" ones. I am waiting for the day when someone asks whether they can eat the canned refried beans that they opened two or three weeks ago and have been storing in the fridge since, and which have no discernibly bad smell, because I am gonna be all over that one like the vomit that was all over my trash can when I ate said beans.
posted by jabes at 5:28 PM on October 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


You also have to look at the food. If you look at the food and it waves back at you, don't eat it no matter what it smells like.
posted by XMLicious at 5:39 PM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


I did an askme on my 50 year old fruitcake still in the tin.

Still have not found anyone to Lucite that thing.
posted by clavdivs at 6:00 PM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Codex Committee on Food Additives, summarized as "(a) to establish or endorse permitted maximum levels for individual food additives"

From what I read, they do work to improve quality and standards, mainly against greedy or unknowing manufactures.
A list of specfic incidents.
posted by clavdivs at 6:18 PM on October 19, 2015


For comparison, here's a list of food safety incidents in the United States (from foodsafety.gov, from healthypeople.gov).
posted by kalessin at 6:28 PM on October 19, 2015


The places I have lived where food safety was a much more casual thing also benefited from very short and direct food supply chains. I don't care all that much if the pig lays in the butcher shop entrance when it comes straight from farm to shop and will be cut up and sold that same day. I care a lot about the cumulative imperfections in the supply chain here, where the meat I buy travels long distances and goes through a lot of handling steps before I buy it in a styrofoam package at the grocery store.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:00 PM on October 19, 2015 [16 favorites]


That is interesting Kalessin, on the first page of your link, the last product: "...Seafoods LLC of Warrenton, Oregon is voluntarily recalling ALL LOTS, ALL SIZES of ALL...brand seafoods canned products because it has the potential to be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium which can cause life-threatening illness or death. Consumers are warned not to use the product even if it does not look or smell spoiled."
posted by clavdivs at 7:10 PM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yep, our food system produces risks that were less common in the olden days. This is one reason that I switched from being one of those people who was all "I grew up eating raw cookie dough and cake batter and I was FINE" to someone who avoids egg rawness like the plague, because it kind of is. And that wasn't the case until the 80s, when "Salmonella enteritidis in chicken eggs mysteriously began to appear in many countries at about the same time in the late 1970s and early 1980s. One theory, by Andreas J. Bäumler, a microbiologist at the University of California, Davis, ties the bacterium’s emergence to the virtual eradication of two related strains of salmonella that make chickens sick. Once those strains were stamped out, through culling of infected birds, the theory goes, immunity to similar strains of salmonella decreased. That opened up a niche for enteritidis to thrive."

Then, too, the concentration tactics of factory farming have made it easier for disease to spread bird to bird: "The high density of chicken populations on farms serves to spread infection among chickens in flocks through direct contact with infected birds and with the contaminated environment [7]. Thus, the chicken farm environment harbors numerous niches for Salmonella, making its control in the farm environment a vexing problem. In addition, SE infection in chickens is often silent—with no evident morbidity or mortality among infected chickens—so there may not be any outward indication of SE infection among chickens in farm flocks or in the eggs they produce [9]."

So, eggs + salmonella are just one example of a food which at one time could be more cavalierly consumed but which now poses definite risks. I share this as counterevidence that food concerns are just an American obsession with hygeine; they may be uniquely American in some ways, but if so I'd say it's because of our intensive and input-dependent farming practices that have us mucking around with antibiotics and crowding and infrequent inspection and other cost-cutting measures to bring us cheap food that combine to produce unintended consequences.
posted by Miko at 7:15 PM on October 19, 2015 [22 favorites]


Yes, botulism is one of those contaminants that has strains that you can't see, smell, or taste. One of my friends made some pretty bottles of olive oil with garlic cloves floating in it for Christmas gifts one year. It broke my heart, but I had to throw it out, sadly, since by the time she gave it to us it had been at room temp for days.
posted by Miko at 7:21 PM on October 19, 2015


For what it's worth I only wanted to make joke. I didn't want a thread like this to happen.
posted by mhoye at 7:38 PM on October 19, 2015


clavdivs, it seems like you think you scored a point or something? I'm not advocating eating food that looks safe, especially when it's been recalled. I'm just saying Chinese (and, to be honest, other Asians) eat stuff grosser and sometimes less hygienically prepared than Westerners seem to prefer it, and I'm saying this as a US citizen who's half Chinese and half Caucasian.
posted by kalessin at 7:47 PM on October 19, 2015


Miko, that would actually make for a really interesting FPP.

I'd actually be really curious to know how industrializing food processes has changed food safety concerns in both China and the US. It's kind of tempting to jump to the narrative that Americans are just overprotective, or hypersensitive, but that's maybe a little convenient. I have to wonder if maybe there was an element of actual heightened risk in the 20th century that socialized Americans to be more concerned with potential risk. That is, if there have been enough food safety issues as a result of American factory farming that Americans have become more suspicious of their food in general.

Or if there's some completely different mechanism at play, like how the US government regulates food production and safety standards (which is so far from perfect it hurts). Personally, I find it kind of hard to believe that practiced American food safety habits are quite as picky as the USDA standards make them appear to be, especially given the number of people in this thread who have reported otherwise (that also goes for the notion that we'll just kind of pick up on everything the government dictates unquestioningly).

I'm not really familiar enough with the logistics of food in China, so for all I know there have been very similar industrialization practices and it really does come down to some economic or social element. It's all very interesting to think about, regardless.
posted by teponaztli at 8:54 PM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


FYI: Every time I see one of those posts, I print it out, tear it into little tiny pieces, and eat it.
posted by miyabo at 9:06 PM on October 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


Just be sure to eat it within two hours.
posted by teponaztli at 9:06 PM on October 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


When there's a politics and economics of co-dependence between a "developed" nation and "developing" nation, it would be an oversimplifying technicality to say Chinese standards are less safe because of lack of regulations.

From a molecular gastronomist's perspective, it is well known that sous-vide methods to cook meat, including pork and poultry, are incompatible with existing FDA standards. Their interpretation of the science argues that FDA standards are too conservative and haven't evolved with the precision of modern culinary equipment.

Criteria and standards all vary over time due to prevailing conditions of political, economic, scientific, and technological development. And that's a fact.
posted by polymodus at 9:13 PM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


That is, if there have been enough food safety issues as a result of American factory farming that Americans have become more suspicious of their food in general.

Yes. Factory farming pretty much guarantees that our meat is swimming in bacteria and viruses, because we've decided that we'll just load up animals with antibiotics to keep them "healthy." US chickens and pork and eggs have been banned by dozens of countries (including China) for import.

The cheaper the meat I buy, the more wary I am of its safety. It's one of the reasons I buy stupid-expensive organic meats, and I tend to assume that most other reasonable countries have meat that more closely resembles the stupid-expensive Whole Foods meat than the Wal-Mart cheap meat.
posted by jaguar at 9:50 PM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


And then you have the occasional evil bad actor, like the poisonous peanut factory dude.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:05 PM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


I tend to assume that most other reasonable countries have meat that more closely resembles the stupid-expensive Whole Foods meat than the Wal-Mart cheap meat.

I tend to find that my ordinary Canadian stores are price and quality comparable to US Whole Foods. IME YMMV.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:06 PM on October 19, 2015


Ehhhh, I just got back from a couple months cooking for a B&B in Tuscany. We bought most of our meat at the local supermarket. It was fine, but not objectively better than what you would get at any typical American supermarket (Kroger, Piggly Wiggly, what have you). Special stuff came from the village butcher, and that stuff did seem to be more in the realm of Whole Foods or an artisanal butcher, but then that's exactly what we were getting from them: quail, wild boar, pork belly, etc.

Frankly, I think people hear "Europe" and assume a level of quality that may or may not be the case. I can't speak for every single food product in every single country (and there were some delicious things we could get in rural Tuscany that you just don't find in America, like don't even get me started on cheese), but by and large, living on the ground in Italy and doing so under the rubric of feeding 20-30 people several meals a day, it's kind of all the same. I mean, Italy has chocolate chip yogurt, for chrissakes.
posted by Sara C. at 10:59 PM on October 19, 2015


There are no points to be scored when food safety is concerned.
posted by clavdivs at 11:15 PM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


oh but

The bugs, they score some points! For them food un-safety is totally win-win. You throw the food away? Great, undisturbed food consumption in some nook or landfill. You eat the food? Hey, carcass!

[this is an elaboration on the woodworms' strategy in historical pianos, as understood by the 21st-c. instrument restorer: first thing they eat is the support blocks of the stand.... Piano collapses, is put on the attic, and can be eaten at leisure]
posted by Namlit at 4:24 AM on October 20, 2015


fffm, please drop it now.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:53 PM on October 19


He's right, and he's being accused rather nastily of something he did not do.

You should not be singling him out. You should ALSO be telling the person who attacked him to stop.

The fact that this has had to be pointed out repeatedly to various mods, in incident after incident in MetaTalk, is in my view a serious, ongoing problem. Would you please try to be more fair? It is frustrating that this keeps happening.
posted by zarq at 5:01 AM on October 20, 2015 [35 favorites]


Miko: One of my friends made some pretty bottles of olive oil with garlic cloves floating in it for Christmas gifts one year. It broke my heart, but I had to throw it out, sadly, since by the time she gave it to us it had been at room temp for days.

This confuses me. Do you refrigerate garlic? What about olive oil? Yes, botulism is a thing, but why would you assume that it could be present in these bottles?
posted by Too-Ticky at 5:18 AM on October 20, 2015


Yes, botulism is a thing, but why would you assume that it could be present in these bottles?

It's the same reason why you have to pressure cook so many canned foods that you'd be fine eating raw; you're changing the environment that the outside of the garlic is exposed to from aerobic to anaerobic. That means that any botulism that was on the garlic before and unable to do it's thing can now get to work reproducing and making toxins.
posted by Gygesringtone at 5:47 AM on October 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


You should not be singling him out. You should ALSO be telling the person who attacked him to stop.

I agree with that. The attack was very minimally warranted and yet pushed to 11. FFFM made his perspective and complete lack of hurtful intent clear and the exchange shouldn't have been allowed to continue past that.

w/r/t botulism: yes, it's the anaerobic environment. Garlic-infused olive oil is enough of a thing that people often make it themselves without realizing that it's pretty risky. Link, link, link.
posted by Miko at 6:25 AM on October 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


Frankly, I think people hear "Europe" and assume a level of quality that may or may not be the case.

I'm not talking about quality necessarily, but about labor practices and animal husbandry, including use of antibiotics and hormones. I'm having a hard time finding statistics on whether the US uses more antibiotics in its meat than other places, though it looks like the EU banned subtherapeutic use of antibiotics in meat, which is routine in US factory farming.
posted by jaguar at 7:24 AM on October 20, 2015


... and which seems to be contributing to antibacterial-resistant diseases in humans.
posted by jaguar at 7:25 AM on October 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


I came into that exchange late so may have missed earlier history. It looked to me like joyceanmachine was saying "this really struck me the wrong way" and fffm said that wasn't his intent. Which is all fine. The problem came when it looked like it was continuing, beyond the initial exchange into a derailing spiral. fffm had made his reply to those accusations, a couple of times, and those replies stood. He has a history of digging in on things and then going ten rounds in a way that takes over a discussion, and we've asked him not to do that in the past, and said we'll give him a signal when it's happening. Hence the signal. And he left it there, and the thread moved on, and that's how it should work.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:48 AM on October 20, 2015 [6 favorites]


The person who made the most uncharitable, incorrect possible reading should have been told to back off as well is the point being made here. The mod interjection looks a whole lot like victim-blaming.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:03 AM on October 20, 2015 [15 favorites]


I agree with zarq and five fresh fish.

I see what was going on, and of course, the 'signal' thing is totally uncomplicated to understand. On the other hand, for those people who are just reading the exchanges of a thread (as opposed to wanting to have to know about someone's posting history), there should be signals too:
To wilfully shoehorn someone into an ideological corner where s/he (obviously) doesn't belong, and by this, to press all her/his buttons is obviously not such a great thing to do, so the signal one would have expected here would have been to calm down both sides of the exchange. It's just a matter of leaving a flavor of balance in the thread for others to appreciate.
posted by Namlit at 8:21 AM on October 20, 2015 [6 favorites]


The mod interjection was to stop the derail. It worked. Why continue this? We all can read the discussion, it's just above this comment (and yours). Do you really think fffm's point has become moot? No. The other person was put off by what they felt was a condescending choice of words. Is that worth a continuing discussion? Perhaps, but it wasn't going to be resolved in this meta. Honestly, sometimes pulling up one side does not equal absolute agreement with the other. It's just all about avoiding a complete derailment. Take one for the team and carry on with the topic at hand. JMO.
posted by h00py at 8:24 AM on October 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


It looked to me like joyceanmachine was saying "this really struck me the wrong way" and fffm said that wasn't his intent. The problem came when it looked like it was continuing, beyond the initial exchange into a derailing spiral. fffm had made his reply to those accusations, a couple of times, and those replies stood.

The accusation was made. He asked for clarification. She replied. He responded. She escalated drastically. He responded again.

Do you honestly believe that this response:
"I mean, I didn't go and find a fainting couch after reading it. But I was annoyed. And your subsequent comments are annoying me more. I mean, it sounds like you are unaware of how often people of color get told by white people, in language much like yours, that what they do is WRONG and NOT BASED ON SCIENCE with heavy overtones of UGH HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU STUPID BACKWARDS IMMIGRANTS/NON-WHITE PEOPLE STOP DOING IT YOUR STUPID BACKWARDS WAY?"
...is in any way a reasonable interpretation of his comments about food spoilage? I don't.

So you addressed his comments but not that one. Why not?

He has a history of digging in on things and then going ten rounds in a way that takes over a discussion, and we've asked him not to do that in the past,

To clarify, are you saying that since you didn't pay close enough attention to what was actually happening in this thread, you assumed due to his history that he was "digging in"? Because if so, then he still didn't deserve to have been singled out.

...and said we'll give him a signal when it's happening. Hence the signal. And he left it there, and the thread moved on, and that's how it should work.

Until next time. Look, I know I'm not a mod and don't have your experience, but shouldn't the end goal of moderation be to accomplish more than defusing a single argument in the moment? You're kicking the can down the road, when modifying your language could prevent a reprise. Telling them both to stop would have been fair, but restricting your mod request to one person sent a clear signal of whom you considered to be in the wrong.
posted by zarq at 8:40 AM on October 20, 2015 [10 favorites]


I disagree that joyceanmachine's reaction was unwarranted. There is incipient racism in US/FDA/Health Board standards that unfairly biases against non-majority foods and foodways. And fffm's enforcement of those standards was, while "fair", in this country's (the US) context, not just. And also not polite. fffm's patronizing tone is one of the reasons I do not get along with him well. I intentionally didn't interact with him (and only mention this now that he's moved on) because I know I don't get along with him well, even though he directly engaged with my comments.

I was grateful for LobsterMitten's interjection.
posted by kalessin at 8:41 AM on October 20, 2015 [7 favorites]


Why continue this?

Because it keeps happening. Needlessly. A simple modification in the way these incidents are handled would cost the mods nothing, but could help prevent recurrences.
posted by zarq at 8:45 AM on October 20, 2015 [7 favorites]


And I'd like to point out that my dropping it had zero to do with anything LobsterMitten said, and everything to do with a) having said my piece, and b) heading out to a party for a departing friend.

Beyond that, everything zarq said, in spades.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:55 AM on October 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Here's the start of the exchange:

peripatheticafter the milk shockingly passed the taste/smell test.

fffm: Which, as I keep saying over and over and over and over, is not a test with any valid results beyond "this is definitively bad."


How is that a direct attack against another culture? peripathetic mentioned that they were Chinese, but fffm didn't say "As I've been saying to Asians over and over and over..." joyceanmachine found insult where none was intended, and should have been asked to back down as well.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:56 AM on October 20, 2015 [7 favorites]


Yes, botulism is one of those contaminants that has strains that you can't see, smell, or taste. One of my friends made some pretty bottles of olive oil with garlic cloves floating in it for Christmas gifts one year. It broke my heart, but I had to throw it out, sadly, since by the time she gave it to us it had been at room temp for days.

Olive oil is perfectly fine left at room temperature for weeks, and unless the garlic is visibly moldy, it's not an issue - and even eating moldy garlic isn't going to hurt you. Botuism is now exceedingly rare in the US - in the most recent available CDC annual stats (2013) [pdf], there were 153 cases total reported, of which foodborne accounted for two cases (1%).
posted by ryanshepard at 8:59 AM on October 20, 2015


Why continue this?

Now just think how guilty you would feel for the entire rest of your lives if CIET is blocked and the very next week a sad postmortem is posted about a tragic raw chicken wing incident?
posted by sammyo at 8:59 AM on October 20, 2015


"I didn't want a thread like this to happen."
Oh, man. I sure did. This thread has everything I love. This thread is the answer to "should we have more CIET questions?" Yes, we should have so many more CIET questions because any one of them might lead to "should-we-have-CIET-questions" metas, maybe even one almost as good as this one where I have learned EVERYTHING THAT IS GREAT.

fffm, do you have any general sandwich instructions for how to prevent the innards squishout problem? I know this seems really simple, but it's physics and it defeats me. I don't know where to put the mayonnaise, the lettuce, the meats and cheeses, to prevent outsquirt. I just last week ended a 17-year-long relationship over a last-straw sandwich fail on the part of the former partner-

-and, brief derail, fffm, your comments in the emotional labor thread were some of the many that I had in the back of my head that helped me make the scary move, so that's how I know you're coming from the right place in re people who are not straightwhiteAmericandudes, the right place here, the right place everywhere, the right place always; but for what it's worth, you did do the expertspeak that is inherently enraging and must be modded before it leads to cataclysmic derail--you did it because you had to because not to in this case would be leaving people at risk of death from botulism--it was not your fault and was very nearly unavoidable; the acrimonious back-and-forth over it clarified that before you got modded; your reputation is intact especially because you've very likely planted some wholesome doubt in the backs of people's heads that will be there for them and will maybe save them next time they're contemplating some risky eating; lobstermitten did have to stop you when she did; but you have [again] done great good and are, along with Lobstermitten, the tragic heroes of the thread--I'm not trying to be funny; I really mean this; you did what you had to do; you could not have done otherwise; Lobstermitten did what she had to do; she could not have done otherwise--and now let's move on because-

-and so I really need your help because I'm in sort of a sandwich mode right now; the sandwiches are celebratory and they need to be extragreat; TIA!
posted by Don Pepino at 9:01 AM on October 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Olive oil is perfectly fine left at room temperature for weeks, and unless the garlic is visibly moldy, it's not an issue

True regarding olive oil, false regarding garlic. Botulinum spores are not visible to the naked eye, and as Miko's link pointed out, a lot of garlic carries the spores. Which grow in anaerobic environments.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:02 AM on October 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


fffm, do you have any general sandwich instructions for how to prevent the innards squishout problem?

Consider the relative textures of your bread and filling. If your bread is hard (say like a ciabatta) you want to minimize added goops--you want things to stick together. Slippery sandwiches need softer breads (incl tortillas and pitas and naan and similar).

a/o cut your sandwich differently--like how Subway used to do the v-cut.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:05 AM on October 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


kalessin: And fffm's enforcement of those standards was, while "fair", in this country's (the US) context, not just.

But kalessin, unless I'm missing something, he agreed with you. When you brought up examples of delicious Taishanese dishes and condiments like shrimp paste that are fermented beyond what the FDA would consider their expiration dates, he said "The difference is that those things are created in relatively controlled ways that minimize or eliminate the risk of unwanted pathogens." Just like the salami, chorizo and pepperoni I mentioned earlier.

And then he said: "It's carefully controlled rotting (as is all fermentation) to minimize risk. Comparing those kinds of processes to "hey I left raw meat on the counter all night in the middle of the summer, totes cool to eat it yeah?" is muddying the waters, to say the least."

I don't think you're disagreeing with each other? Am I wrong?
posted by zarq at 9:05 AM on October 20, 2015


Botulinum spores are not visible to the naked eye, and as Miko's link pointed out, a lot of garlic carries the spores. Which grow in anaerobic environments.

Compare the number of Americans eating garlic regularly to the CDC stats. Now, think of the high incidence of CIET posts as a reflection of American food safety knowledge. If botulism-via-rancid garlic were a serious, common threat, there would be bodies everywhere.
posted by ryanshepard at 9:08 AM on October 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


This whole thread is why my teacher husband and teacher mother always throw away the homemade food products they get for gifts. Nope, nope. Nope to the nope.
posted by kimberussell at 9:11 AM on October 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


It's not botulism-via-rancid*-garlic, it's botulism risk via garlic which is being kept in an environment (submerged, raw, in oil) that botulinum spores love like I love a big mug of hot chocolate and a nice warm blanket.


* rancid usually refers to fats that have gone bad
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:12 AM on October 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm just pointing out that there are more abrasive ways to talk about scientific facts. And there are less abrasive ways to do it.

Wish this could be repeated over and over and over and over again in this thread, because it's just as "Water is wet" true as "The smell test doesn't tell you anything about whether food is okay to eat".
posted by 23skidoo at 9:13 AM on October 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


The breakup sandwich is on firmish sourdough (for reasons) and it has to have HAM and CHEEEEESE (TOGETHER!!! REASONS!) and both MAYONNAISE and MUSTARD (REASONS). Other elements not essential, but the bread, condiments and ham and cheese are immutable musts. Will try the sideways cut, but actually the bread's probably squishy enough that it'll work plus the first sandwich had so much ragey ham and cheese on it, it was a bit too celebratory even for me.

God above, if you put the garlic in the oil, you allow botulinum spores, if they are present, to grow. garlic out of oil? fine. oil without garlic/whatever stored in it and kept at room temperature? fine. Garlic sealed in oil away from air? Dangerous. <--abrasive way to talk about scientific facts? check.
posted by Don Pepino at 9:19 AM on October 20, 2015


* rancid usually refers to fats that have gone bad

True, but now you're just being pedantic.

All I'm saying is that all you squeamish people can bring your throwaways to me to live on. I'm in my 40s and, partly out of necessity, have eaten a lot of day old / dumpstered / kinda questionable food in my time, and the worst I have to show for it is one case of food poisoning. Outside of food processing facility contamination being a factor, your likelihood of doing yourself serious harm by eating something that has gone over in your kitchen is vanishingly small if you're in good health.
posted by ryanshepard at 9:20 AM on October 20, 2015


Yeah, well, I believe that it's the "over and over and over" gambit that rubs people the wrong way--
and honestly, it seems like the very basic principles of food safety are actually really easy to grasp. Which makes me believe that they perhaps don't need to be banged into our virtual heads quite as persistently, so that's maybe true too...
posted by Namlit at 9:21 AM on October 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Try using a 'drier' grainy mustard mixed in with your mayo (or mustard powder), spread it thinly on both sides, and layer the ham and cheese together so they stick to each other. Should work.

Frankly I want someone like Lopez-Alt to write a book devoted to careful sandwich preparation.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:21 AM on October 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yeeeeesss, thank you so much.
posted by Don Pepino at 9:23 AM on October 20, 2015


Zarq, dwelling on this seems like a huge derail and I don't have time this morning to do it justice. But the formulation of the food safety stance was based on defending majority food ways only. There are vast conspiracies of institutionalized policy and practice, systemic practice and ethics that use safety as a means to enforce these expectations. I posit that if you go googling you will find ample resources.

Add to these issues the socioeconomic issues of access to quality foods, quality eating places, quality education, just food handling certification processes... There's a strong reason nonwhite folks in LA sometimes say that a B rating from the health inspectors just stands for "better tasting".

Add to this that I know that one of the executives of the SF food safety board regularly marinates his chicken on the counter at room temp with garlic and oil for days before cooking... It's my opinion after a lot of additional research and activism that we are justifying a not insignificant amount of racism and racist policies with claimed empirical fact. These facts are statistics, not mechanism.
posted by kalessin at 9:41 AM on October 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


I just last week ended a 17-year-long relationship over a last-straw sandwich fail on the part of the former partner

Surely I'm not the only one who badly needs to hear the full story on this fateful sandwich.
posted by the turtle's teeth at 9:53 AM on October 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


I really think that the "I never get food poisoning" argument is a tricky one to make. I almost never get food poisoning! I have a strong stomach. And yet, one of my housemates gets sick a lot, sometimes from the same things that I have eaten with no ill effect. After many years of living in the same house and often sharing food, we tend to feel that it's not allergies on his part; it's the fact that I seem more food-poisoning resistant. Now, I grew up in a very clean home and he grew up in a very messy one where the kitchen was often dirty - it wasn't that I grew up with lots of opportunity to eat old or improperly stored food and therefore developed my strong stomach. It's just...luck? Genetics? Some combination of body factors?

So basically, I tend to feel that the reason to be concerned about germy food isn't that it makes everyone sick, and "I ate some and I was okay" isn't a good argument against careful food storage unless you're only talking about yourself. I can eat the pizza that got left out overnight no problem, but the issue is that at least some people will get horribly ill from the same stuff.
posted by Frowner at 9:55 AM on October 20, 2015 [10 favorites]


"Botuism is now exceedingly rare in the US - in the most recent available CDC annual stats (2013), there were 153 cases total reported, of which foodborne accounted for two cases (1%)." (emphasis added) Food-borne botulism was not always as rare. The reason for the decline is likely that people aren't home canning food anymore. As garlic-in-oil becomes trendier, so will hospitalizations and deaths from botulinum poisoning among the demographic that likes to give attractive re-usable glass bottles filled with EVOO and organic garlic as Martha Stewartey presents.
posted by Don Pepino at 9:55 AM on October 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


"...I know that one of the executives of the SF food safety board regularly marinates his chicken on the counter at room temp with garlic and oil for days before cooking..." (emphasis added)
posted by Don Pepino at 10:14 AM on October 20, 2015


Frowner's point is exactly why health inspectors might take personal risks that they could never tolerate from a public-health standpoint. They're responsible for far too many individuals with different susceptibilities and their task is to reduce the incidence of risk to a minimum, which has little to do with how much risk they can personally tolerate.

I am personally pretty cavalier but I have enough training and bad experience to know what is possible. I used to work for a residential school where, long before my time, the cook left a pot of chili out to cool a little too long before reheating it to serve the next day. Almost everyone in the 120-person facility got violently ill, some life-threateningly so, requiring re-hydration and medication in the hospital. The place was forced to close for a full semester and is lucky it had the finances to endure that and reopen. It would not happen today, precisely because of more stringent health inspections, training and managed practice. Also, people in the wider population have various degrees of susceptibility. Many got sick, the young and already-sick got sicker. So while I think it's okay to say "I'm perfectly comfortable with this risk," it's not accurate to say "you are all stupid because you consider this risk." That "if you're in good health" provision is really important.

Also, most foodborne illness is undiagnosed and a lot of people get it without realizing that's what it is. Feeling down, having the runs or an upset stomach or slight dizziness or what seems like a migraine - all can be symptoms of foodborne illness. Most of those work through the system on their own without causing a crisis. That doesn't make me want them, though.

Foodborne botulism is pretty rare, ryanshepherd, but not that almost all cases come from home-preserved foods - making them, as a category, a much higher-risk category than mass-manufactured foods. People who do not understand the science of safe home preservation can put others at risk. Botulism can be deadly (and was for one of those people in 2013, who represents a larger proportion of the set of people who eat home-preserved foods than the set of people in the general population) and for something that is such a known vector as garlic in oil left for weeks to infuse at room temp - everything known to cultivate the spores - it is a completely prudent decision to skip it.
posted by Miko at 10:15 AM on October 20, 2015 [6 favorites]


I really think that the "I never get food poisoning" argument is a tricky one to make. I almost never get food poisoning! I have a strong stomach. And yet, one of my housemates gets sick a lot, sometimes from the same things that I have eaten with no ill effect. After many years of living in the same house and often sharing food, we tend to feel that it's not allergies on his part; it's the fact that I seem more food-poisoning resistant. ...

So basically, I tend to feel that the reason to be concerned about germy food isn't that it makes everyone sick, and "I ate some and I was okay" isn't a good argument against careful food storage unless you're only talking about yourself. I can eat the pizza that got left out overnight no problem, but the issue is that at least some people will get horribly ill from the same stuff
.

+100 for me. I'm like Frowner's roommate - I have a stomach that just loves to reject anything that isn't freshly killed/harvested. I've gotten the epic pukies from food that others have scarfed down with no ill effects. For instance, one of the classes in my MA program got together for a little "hooray we've graduated" potluck, and everyone brought stuff from home. Guess who had to run to the toilet and throw up mid-potluck? And guess who was the ONLY one to get horribly sick from one of the food items (to this day I don't know which one)?

I'm just plain sensitive to any hint of food spoilage. I have a pretty strong immune system otherwise - I don't get a lot of colds - but I can't eat anything "off" unless I want to be best buddies with the porcelain god. I think Frowner is absolutely right, it is a YMMV thing and some people are more resistant to food poisoning than others. I'm a "when in doubt, throw it out" person because it's the way my body works. I know other people can eat the same stuff and not get sick because I've seen it happen.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 10:18 AM on October 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


"...I know that one of the executives of the SF food safety board regularly marinates his chicken on the counter at room temp with garlic and oil for days before cooking..." (emphasis added)

I'm unsure what point the emphasis is supposed to be making. Is it reasonably safe to marinate a chicken on the counter at room temperature for several days, as long as you cook it properly?
posted by 23skidoo at 10:21 AM on October 20, 2015


It's not even remotely safe to do that. I am astonished that said person isn't permanently ill if that is how they handle food.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:22 AM on October 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's an ethnic Chinese food way.
posted by kalessin at 10:37 AM on October 20, 2015


I am astonished that said person isn't permanently ill if that is how they handle food

Some people are just not into keeling over.
posted by Namlit at 10:38 AM on October 20, 2015


Also the days-marinating person I know cooks the chicken only to 165F. Not the botulinum killing point of 212F for 10 minutes.
posted by kalessin at 10:49 AM on October 20, 2015


Well, that elevates the risk of foodborne illness.
posted by Miko at 10:51 AM on October 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


There are lots of examples from Chinese food ways. The traditional method for cooking white cut chicken usually sends US trained cooks into paroxysms of retching (because slow cooked blood is often mistaken for salmonella-carrying uncooked flesh). Lop Chung, a dry cured, air cured organ meat and duck or pork meat sausage is sometimes only lightly cooked or warmed and held that way for hours before serving. The list goes on and on and on.
posted by kalessin at 10:53 AM on October 20, 2015


Oh hey, this is a great place for my "regretted long lost chicken" story.

So, when I went to work in Shanghai, I went with a group of other Americans. I was the only one who had studied Mandarin for more than a few weeks and my Mandarin was pretty much at the "I can ask where this bus goes and request tofu, chicken or pork with noodles" level. We all went out to eat on our own for the first time after we'd been there a few days and went to this little street cafe at the back of the university. We somehow managed to order a chicken dish, which I later realized was old-style "raw" white cut chicken, plus a couple of other dishes. When the chicken came to the table, we thought it was literally raw and didn't touch it, plus we were totally confused by how we'd managed to get the guy to give us a raw chicken - why would he think we wanted that? Even now I feel bad for the guy, who had been really patient with our fumbling mandarin and brought us perfectly nice food. Also, I regret that we didn't eat the chicken.

I later did eat raw octopus (and not sushi grade either) by mistake, due to a friend setting out a mixture of cooked dishes and raw ingredients that were to go into the hotpot later.

Honestly, the smartphone is the greatest gift to the traveler in a gastronomically unfamiliar place. We could totally have figured out what the chicken was if only we'd had one.

I think I got sick from something I ate once when I was in Shanghai, and I ate all kinds of stuff. Man, I wish I had some baozi right now.
posted by Frowner at 11:02 AM on October 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, this article from Slate is along the lines of the criticism I am making here about health department policy/safe food handling and how it has racist intersections.
posted by kalessin at 11:08 AM on October 20, 2015


What you're worried about is the Danger Zone, which is 4-60C; the temperature zone at which pathogens multiply most rapidly.

This zone... Would it be one of danger?
posted by Juffo-Wup at 11:59 AM on October 20, 2015 [10 favorites]


Home canned meats and soups, tomato sauces are OK after boiling for 10 min at sea level and either salted or boiled for 15 minutes at altitude.

I wonder if the whole garlics would be OK in oil if they were microwaved for a time before bottling? If the bottles were baked for 10 minutes at 300 degrees before use?

I once went looking for fish sauce, I had just learned of it as a component of pho. In a store there was a newly opened case, I read the label. It said, "Made from anchovy fish, herded into concrete ponds, killed with dynamite, and left to ferment in the sun. Strained and bottled under the strictest sanitery conditions, in the Peoples Republic of China." I was more looking for a recipe.
posted by Oyéah at 12:39 PM on October 20, 2015


23skidoo, if you click the link you'll see that the CDC says heat kills botulinum spores. So I was emphasizing the cooking part in case that explained why the described executive is alive today despite trifling with deadly botulism. Even if the raw chicken steeped at room temperature for days in a flavorful spore slurry, if it got cooked at a high enough temperature for a long enough time then the spores would've died. And it looks like the salmonella was a non-virulent strain. But I see where the executive is not cooking to the recommended temperature, which indicates that the executive has lucked out so far and got botulinum-free garlic. Presumably the executive knows the risks or had an iron lung fired up and ready to go in the next room. Slowcooked counter-ripened whiffchicken sure does sound like an exciting gustatory challenge, but I still think I'm going to stick with ragehamsandwiches for now, now that, thanks to MetaFilter, the greatest website in the world, I know exactly how to make them.
posted by Don Pepino at 1:00 PM on October 20, 2015


I feel like this is a risky assertion but I'm going to make it anyway. White folks are noted for coming up with nearly imaginary ailments (e.g. gluten sensitivity, MSG sensitivity) in the food world. Though a lot of these issues aren't explicitly racist, they come from racist assumptions and biases and fear of exoticism in food and food prep. There's ample evidence that this also comes through in food and restaurant inspections and in food and food handling policy. The article from Slate that I linked to suggests that these forces may be mis-assigning blame for various kinds of foodborne illness because of racist and other prejudiced tendencies and assumptions. And I agree, I think they are.

I'm not saying that seeing to your own idea of food hygiene is necessarily racist. But I am going to assert that Chinese outnumber U.S. Americans by approximately 300%, (or, 4.23 to one). It seems to me that by sheer force of population statistics, the Chinese have a lot more ample data to suggest that the US Food safety laws and policy, where they differ from Chinese ones, may be missing the mark.

Again, I'm not attempting to give carte blanche to every possible form of eating we all do (nor will I assert that Chinese governmental policy about safe food handling agrees, necessarily, with my own - I'm not an international food policy specialist), but I am saying there is ample evidence to start questioning our assumptions about food safety and to look at our policies both from the point of view doing real science (not fake science, backed with racist assumptions) and overcoming the prejudices and biases that we encounter as we explore new cuisines, ethnicities and food ways.
posted by kalessin at 1:21 PM on October 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


I am going to assert that Chinese outnumber U.S. Americans by approximately 300%, (or, 4.23 to one). It seems to me that by sheer force of population statistics, the Chinese have a lot more ample data to suggest that the US Food safety laws and policy, where they differ from Chinese ones, may be missing the mark.

Fact: more people die in China every year than in any other single country.
posted by grouse at 1:39 PM on October 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Kind of meaningless unless compared per capita, but yes.
posted by kalessin at 1:42 PM on October 20, 2015


White folks are noted for coming up with nearly imaginary ailments (e.g. gluten sensitivity, MSG sensitivity) in the food world. Though a lot of these issues aren't explicitly racist, they come from racist assumptions and biases and fear of exoticism in food and food prep.

I thought they came from wanting to be a precious snowflake who needs to eat on a higher level than everyone. For those who have a real problem, I am sympathetic, as a person with food allergies that were severe as a child. I think I know what you are trying to say, but stating that these things are exclusively because of racist assumptions, whether conscious or unconscious, seems a bit of a stretch, is all.
posted by agregoli at 1:43 PM on October 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


Kind of meaningless unless compared per capita, but yes.

I think the point grouse was making is that your assertion - that Chinese and U.S. population totals have any relevance to the efficacy of each country's food safety policies - is wrong.
posted by lalex at 1:49 PM on October 20, 2015


Where/when did I say "exclusively"?
posted by kalessin at 1:51 PM on October 20, 2015


You stated where they came from, several times. If that was not your drift, I don't think I was the only one who missed it.
posted by agregoli at 1:53 PM on October 20, 2015


And maybe just this last time. But you did say that's where they came from. Didn't know I had to read into it to know you didn't mean exclusively.
posted by agregoli at 1:56 PM on October 20, 2015


Possibly we're getting a little far afield here. I took the point to be, when asserting US/Canada food safety reg's, be aware of this cross-cultural issue? Which, fair enough, it seems to me.

I don't think we need to get into adjudicating individual people's food sensitivities, and it seems like that will get us even farther off the track of whatever site matters are up for discussion in here.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:56 PM on October 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


So how do we go about establishing whether or not population effects food policies or food safety? So far, I think neither side of that disagreement has provided ample evidence. Maybe some citations? Studies? Or we could take it on faith and proceed to interrogate other evidence. I feel like we have gone way down into a rabbit hole and I keep feeling a lot of discomfort about it, since the original post was not about this.

Also, it's nearly impossible to write in a contentious environment while making everyone happy and without sounding like a simp. I'd like to have it stated here for the record that I make assertions not as blanket statements but as questions to be considered. Folks seeing these as all-encompassing are taking my intended approach wrong. I'll apologize for being unclear and continue to try to do better, but there is also a MetaFilter principle of assuming good intent, and I hope I can trust everyone here to do that too.
posted by kalessin at 1:56 PM on October 20, 2015


Looks like I just missed LM's comment, sorry. I'm happy to let things drop where they are.
posted by kalessin at 1:58 PM on October 20, 2015


Well, at the very least, "MSG allergies" and some of the other anxieties about specific regional/national cuisines are definitely rooted in racist anxieties, especially when they persist after they've been debunked by peer reviewed studies. Gluten sensitivity might not be the best example, but there are plenty of others.

I think at least some of them tend to erode over time, though - I hardly ever have "ew sushi is raw fish" conversations with people anymore, and in general Japanese food is way more normalized, at least in the urban midwest, than it was when I was a kid. You don't see nearly as many of those kitsch "Japanese" steakhouses anymore either, and the ones that still exist (again, around here) don't really play up the "Japanese" angle and tend to advertise themselves more as "cheap place to eat meat" than anything else.
posted by Frowner at 1:59 PM on October 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Couple of comments deleted. Let's not have a fight we don't have to have. This needs to get back toward site issues, not turn into general fighting about culture and food.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:06 PM on October 20, 2015


general fighting about culture and food.

But I thought that was the point of this thread!
posted by octobersurprise at 2:07 PM on October 20, 2015


I wonder if the whole garlics would be OK in oil if they were microwaved for a time before bottling?

Yes, this is a thing you could do, but it can negatively impact the flavor of good olive oil. IN any case, my friend didn't take this step and a lot of people are unaware you would need to.
posted by Miko at 2:30 PM on October 20, 2015


I feel like this is a risky assertion but I'm going to make it anyway. White folks are noted for coming up with nearly imaginary ailments (e.g. gluten sensitivity, MSG sensitivity) in the food world. Though a lot of these issues aren't explicitly racist, they come from racist assumptions and biases and fear of exoticism in food and food prep. There's ample evidence that this also comes through in food and restaurant inspections and in food and food handling policy. The article from Slate that I linked to suggests that these forces may be mis-assigning blame for various kinds of foodborne illness because of racist and other prejudiced tendencies and assumptions. And I agree, I think they are.

Seriously uncomfortable with your line of reasoning here. I get splitting, migraine headaches when I have more than a threshold amount of msg. A bag of potato chips. Too much tomato sauce. KFC. Soy sauce. Certain other kinds of foods. That is a salt sensitivity, related to my hypertension, diagnosed by several doctors over the years. It is not an allergy.

The assumption you're putting forth, that actual, physical symptoms that I experience are somehow a psychosomatic prejudice borne from racism is offensive.

Kalessin, I suggest you and Frowner may want to be very wary of allowing your own very real and justifiable concerns to prejudice your perceptions of others.
posted by zarq at 2:32 PM on October 20, 2015 [6 favorites]


I was unfair about that counter-marinated chicken in my earlier comment and left an inaccurate impression of my own upright puritan mores with regard to food safety. Furthermore, I believe that either the stringent "keep it all at precisely the right temperature or throw it all out" US food safety guidelines themselves or the tendency to pay any attention to them must be of recent date, at least based on my family's food approaches, and I do not think my family can be the only Dutch/English/whateverelse mixed-whitepeople-heritage family that does as my family does. I'll just take Thanksgiving for one instance.

It has been our tradition all my life to forget to thaw the frozen turkey in the refrigerator safely and sensibly over a period of two or three days and to instead take it out of the freezer at six or seven in the morning of Thanksgiving day and throw it in a bath of hot water in the sink against every recommendation ever. We then leave the turkey sitting around somewhere while we make the stuffing, pack it full of bacteria-harboring bread and onion and sage and celery (actually we use bok choy ribs instead because those come in the CSA bag and it means we don't have to go buy celery, which we all hate), roast it according to some easy approximation of the Joy of Cooking instructions (sans the part about baking the stuffing separately because that's a PitA and the part about testing it with a meat thermometer because that would involve the purchase of a meat thermometer to replace the one that broke when I was four), leave it sitting around in the room-temperature kitchen and then the room-temperature dining room while we eat--it sits out of the oven for probably around for two or three hours minimum, as does every other roasted meatstuff we eat throughout the year. Then we drape it loosely in aluminum foil and store it in that barely protected condition in the refrigerator for weeks and weeks while people revisit it to peel bits off to make sandwiches. Last year it rested in the 'fridge for over a month before we finally processed it and froze it for soup. Maybe lots of NPR listeners keep up with the recommendations and follow them, but we definitely do not. The one Thanksgiving CDC guideline we started following the second we heard of it is not rinsing the turkey or any other meatstuff before baking it. The reason we follow that one and none of the others is that one means NOT doing a chore.

Furthermore, we all eat from every food group and we eat in every restaurant of every ethnicity available to us. We do this because restaurants make food for you: when you go to a restaurant, you do not have to do work to make food. If you die of something, it was worth it because you didn't have to cook and the food at the Chinese restaurant, if it's one of the three real ones in town, is better than anything you could make yourself in a million years. We eat raw milk and cheese and oysters (whether or not the month has an "r" in it), happily taking on the risk of listeria and Vibrio vulnificus poisoning and whateverall. All this to say our ancestral tradition is to do precisely nothing at all to avoid food poisoning with the single exception of botulism. The only reason we avoid botulism is because to get botulism you have to do work. If all the family has to do to avoid it is not embark upon an epic slog to can our own vegetables or steep garlic grown in our garden to make a swanky treat to impress our friends at the holidays? Count on us to follow the guidelines, then. I also never feed honey to infants under a year of age. It is the work of a moment to not do that. Native laziness, not rectitude, has kept me safe from this single pathogen.
posted by Don Pepino at 2:34 PM on October 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


To clarify on the MSG front: although this New Scientist article and the other NS ones it links are frankly way more truculent than I think is helpful, it seems very clear that the vast majority of people who believe that they are MSG-intolerant are not. However, this does not in fact mean that no one at all has problems with MSG.

It's pretty clear, though, that most Americans don't understand that MSG is found in many things, and many people assume that MSG is primarily found in Chinese food. There's something weirdly racialized, too, about how many people seem to assume that although China is a large and diverse nation, there's something about "them" that makes Chinese people generally not get MSG headaches while Americans do get them.

I know that human bodies are very individual, and a person may have perfectly real responses to things in ways that don't turn up in the research. However, that doesn't change the fact that MSG sensitivity as a widespread condition just doesn't bear up to scrutiny.
posted by Frowner at 2:44 PM on October 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


However, this does not in fact mean that no one at all has problems with MSG.

And in your words, they're "definitely rooted in racist anxieties." Got it.
posted by zarq at 2:51 PM on October 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


zarq, I am absolutely all for you avoiding foods and ingredients that you feel like you have sensitivities to. I'm not proscribing any behavior. I'm not saying THOU SHALT EAT MSG.

What I am saying is that MSG, for instance, is a sensitivity that so far Western Science has been unable to validate with formal, double-blind, scientifically viable study and statistical analysis. So making policy regarding MSG is not great. I'm okay with there being signage and disclosure of use of MSG for folks, who, despite most empirical study and findings, appear to be sensitive to the use of the ingredient. I think that disclosure is great. For example, I have allergies to strawberries and scallops (that send me into instant asthma attacks) and I have sensitivities to some melons, peanuts and walnuts (that give me heartburn and other miscellaneous symptoms) and I like to avoid both the kinds of foods I'm outright allergic to and those that make me uncomfortable.

That said, I think that the sociological and academic and social-justice related thinking and writing about the racist overtones that flavor MSG panics and MSG-related policy-making that go beyond disclosure and put cooks and restaurants at risk of legal action and so forth are not cool. Sure, legal action for not factually disclosing one's ingredients, I think is okay. But legal action for stuff we can't prove? I'm not cool with that. And I think it's fair for me to say that when the criticism is solely pointed at Asian restaurants and restauranteurs, even though other cuisines and food products use MSG too, I think that there are flavors of and hints of and possibly overt indications of racism in those patterns.

Again not saying that you, zarq, are being racist or that you, zarq, have racist motives. But I am saying that there is racism in the institutions that are making these arbitrary laws and policies solely against Asian food purveyors, and I think that's a shitty thing to have happen.
posted by kalessin at 3:05 PM on October 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Okay, yes, I miswrote: I could have written "research shows that MSG sensitivity is not a widespread problem; most anxiety about MSG sensitivity is rooted in racist anxiety that goes right back to the first description of "Chinese restaurant syndrome" in the sixties, and before that to racist anxieties about cleanliness and ingredients in Chinese cooking. But some people have medical problems with MSG and this is not imaginary" - which is, I think, a charitable reading of what I wrote in any case. God knows I acknowledge that it's difficult to stop oneself from doing it, but I contend that a response to a plausible argument about racist anxiety of "but in this one special case it is not racist, therefore your point is invalid" is not usually a good way to deal with the issue.
posted by Frowner at 3:10 PM on October 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


So, let me understand what's happening here -- someone points out the very well-known and indisputable fact that MSG-anxiety has a strong component of racism and we end up with someone making it all about how unfair it is and how hurt they are because they inferred from that statement that they are personally implicated.

This is so schematic, it's painful. I'd think that zarq himself would be very aware of this pattern, having experienced it here from the other side in other discussions.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:14 PM on October 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


Just in the interest of Not Having A Giant Angerfest: Zarq, I really do not doubt what you say about your experience. I don't believe that people with persistent, consistent symptoms are just making stuff up, especially when their symptoms track with, for example, a larger issue with salt and hypertension.

I have definitely encountered many people over the years who are "sensitive to MSG" only at Chinese restaurants, who are not aware that MSG is found anywhere else and who do not know what MSG actually is. This is not at all the same as what you're describing with your experience, which is obviously a consistent one that has to do with the actual chemical nature of MSG.
posted by Frowner at 3:18 PM on October 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


LobsterMitten has asked nicely twice, guys.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 3:23 PM on October 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


OK. Thank you, Kalessin and Frowner. Will drop it now.
posted by zarq at 3:31 PM on October 20, 2015


Since this is Meta, I will say that one thing that regularly irritates me about MetaFilter moderation and discussion ethics is that often moderation policy and community ethics leave strong and bothersome statements and criticisms to stand while reasonable and careful responses are deleted, blocked, or otherwise unappreciated.

I think that moderating against folks writing reasonably and in good faith to justify or further explain their positions sucks and I think it makes MetaFilter the worse.

Also, I continued responding, this time to zarq, because I generally respect and think well of him and when he seems concerned and seems to have misunderstood my reasoning/position, I think I owe him an explanation or clarification. But perhaps you're right, Johnny, maybe I should have taken it to MeMail.
posted by kalessin at 3:38 PM on October 20, 2015


When I clicked on a link about CIEI questions I did not expect fightiness! Weird.
posted by Justinian at 4:33 PM on October 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


that's our secret, cap, we're always fighty
posted by poffin boffin at 4:54 PM on October 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


It's phrased to not call me out but, well, mom hadn't texted me back within 15 min and I was hungry. And it was my last potato. My other available food was salad and I'd hit my limit already for the week as in I would be standing in Cortex's book because it would hurt too much to sit or squat (yay squatty potty) and do that thing you do.

I hear the prev poster on Autism and best by dates. Takes careful ass planning to work around that Which results in weird meals of about to go off (date wise) food. That I've never poisoned the family helps, too, so I've got some trust built up.

... Room temperature cured .....

.,,., well in Europe they ...

Again, Florida. Room temp is currently 80• and it's 8pm. London is on the same parallel as Anchorage, right? Though warmer somewhat.

Pregnant women
Readers of Metafilter
Older adults
Persons with chronic illnesses


Currently three out of four. At the moment not immunnocompromised but my gut flora is weird. Better but weird.

But I do learn a lot from these. Even, this week, my own!
posted by tilde at 5:29 PM on October 20, 2015


So, Miko, I meant just nuking the garlic, not the olive oil. Then put the garlic in. However one could slice the garlic, microwave just enough, and sautee then with a small portion of the oil so the flavor distributes nicely. One thing I bought this year for home preserving was clear 1/2 liter beer bottles with porcelain click tops. The top gear comes off to boil and the bottles bake just fine, then the whole contraption boils OK in a canning bath. Oh well.
posted by Oyéah at 5:40 PM on October 20, 2015


In the past two days my roommate has made and nommed in front of me:

Chocolate chip banana bread
Brownies
Grandma's brand flaky layered biscuits
Delicious beef stew with flour thickener


If only someone had told me two days ago that my gluten sensitivity was imaginary! I would have eaten the hell out of all those things! I would still be eating them! I would have given in to the full-sense-memory fantasy I had on the way home from work tonight about eating a delicious, disgusting, slightly-squashed (why were they always slightly squashed? why did it somehow make them better?) BK fried chicken sandwich.

(As it is, if anyone wants to debate whether gluten sensitivity is a real thing, I will go get some of those leftover biscuits right now and shovel them into my sad, deprived, bread-craving maw. You can meet me in my bathroom in an hour to discuss the topic... if you dare!)
posted by kythuen at 5:59 PM on October 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


The problem with botulism spores that are commonly found in garlic (and in all sorts of other household items) is that the spores cannot be destroyed by cooking at ordinary atmospheric pressure, because they do not get hot enough without pressure cooking. Microwaving is no better than stovetop cooking, for this purpose. As a result, if you place garlic in olive oil without pressure canning the jars afterwards, as the commercial makers of such products do, you should refrigerate the garlic oil, not leave it out at room temperature for days. An alternative is to acidify the garlic with vinegar or lactic acid, since botulism-causing bacteria will not grow at a low pH.

Most people who eat garlic oil will not get botulism, but it is a very nasty disease for those who do get it, so it is good to know safe food preparation rules to reduce the risk.
posted by artistic verisimilitude at 6:21 PM on October 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


My Dad described migraine headaches as adrenalin hangovers. He was right sort of. I have them too and it is sensitivity to tyramine in high concentrations. I noticed the correlation while writing MAOI inhibitor diets for people on tricyclic antidepressants. I can eat chocolate, though so I am going to eat this cake I can eat, because I just baked it using fresh ingredients. Oh yeah.

I water bath can things with garlic, often enough. Maybe my plum and garlic sauce will do me in.
posted by Oyéah at 6:34 PM on October 20, 2015


To think, the Celts spread across Europe partly from Meat preservation.

"Clostridium botulinum (responsible for the deadly botulism toxin), can survive for hours at 212 degrees F*"

Wow, paging Montague for back-up.
posted by clavdivs at 6:39 PM on October 20, 2015


In 1978, my very first girlfriend's parents were at a country club dinner in what became one of the worst botulism outbreaks in the US. Two people died and about thirty people total were poisoned. It was national news and it was a shock to discover that my friend's mother was one of the victims (though her case was relatively mild). She's had lingering problems ever since.

The botulinum toxin is extraordinarily potent and it's a neurotoxin. (I guess everyone knows this these days because of botox.) There's a reason why it's always been sort of the bogeyman of food poisonings. It's really that bad.

† Sixth grade. We still keep in touch.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:51 PM on October 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


I water bath can things with garlic, often enough. Maybe my plum and garlic sauce will do me in.

Probably not, because your plums are acidic enough to inhibit the growth of the toxin. But I wish you already knew that, because it sorta scares me that you are canning stuff in water without understanding why or why not what you're doing is safe or unsafe. Garlic in salsa, pasta sauce, even plum sauce - that's fine in a water bath because the food itself creates an acidic environment. Water-bath canning fruit, vinegary stuff like relish, pickles, chutneys - fine, because you have a ton of acid. Garlic in oil, dairy, etc - no; meats, stew, soup - no. Those are low-acid foods. For those, only pressure canning can be done at high enough heat to minimize the danger.

The National Center for Home Food Preservation
is a good basic source on all this.
posted by Miko at 8:53 PM on October 20, 2015 [10 favorites]


I'd put down $3 that you used a thesaurus for 2 adjectives in that sentence.

Ha, putrescent didn't surprise me as an adjective coming from a MeFite but "slavering" is one I've never used, where my mind just assumed it meant "mindless" / "slavishly" but it really means "salivating" and now I am almost entirely in agreement.
posted by aydeejones at 9:47 PM on October 20, 2015


Also seriously, shout-out to feckless fecal fear mongering who brings the food science / safety facts in a major way to many of these questions (1, 2 for a couple of super quick examples).

Good show indeed, but I had to click and find something to disagree with. When it comes to meat, most beef is perfectly bad-ass awesome when it's a few days past the sell-by / refrigerate-by date. Even or especially when it loses the red color (which can happen before "sell-by" and trigger the Holy Mark Down) and fully commences wet aging in your fridge.

I just had a brisket that was marked down 50% "sell by 10/16" and it smelled AMAZINGLY wet-aged and holy crap it was delicious. I've found that shopping during the weekday during the late morning / early afternoon is a DOUBLE-PLUS-AMAZING time of day to find these sort of markdowns on everything. And now that I'm getting all buff and lifting barbells like Mencia lifted jokes, I need all of the $1.50 turkey thighs and $10 4-lb briskets I can get.
posted by aydeejones at 9:52 PM on October 20, 2015


I've pushed chicken to the "stinky-zone" in the past too and just made sure to get it to 160, also because it was a markdown I failed to use the same day I bought it. But I don't recommend it despite zero problems. Pork gets a horrible ammonia smell but before the day that hits, eat that shitz
posted by aydeejones at 9:53 PM on October 20, 2015


Finally, I concur that seafood seriously must not be fucked with because things like listeria kill people like listerine kills dreams of a pain-free mouth, and also germs.
posted by aydeejones at 9:55 PM on October 20, 2015


Honestly, the smell test (mixed with caution and visual inspection) hasn't let me or the wife down yet, so...yeah, that. Sure, we had to throw out a $20+ pot roast because someone set the crock-pot to warm instead of high, but better safe than sorry. Plus pizza is never a bad backup plan.

Crock-pot + warm + 6-8 hours = perfectly-cooked pot roast, ala

Just ate that tonight, OMGood
posted by aydeejones at 9:59 PM on October 20, 2015


LOL, my crockpot is so old I don't know warm is a thing. Carry on, it's not the same as "low," which is in that recipe.

Sor-ee, Canadian-style
posted by aydeejones at 10:00 PM on October 20, 2015


Oh dear god, Ivan Fyodorovich, that link, I never want to eat again.

Also now I'm picturing three bean salad containers cowering in fear during the man bean hunt.
posted by kitten magic at 10:50 PM on October 20, 2015


I knew a guy who would leave raw chicken out and eat little bits of it over a few days, so as to "harden" his system. Like iocaine powder, you know.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:41 PM on October 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


The ways that folks use sous vide these days also violate FDA guidelines. Like sous viding chicken for two days at 135F. And they also feed their kids with such things. It gives me pause, honestly, but maybe it shouldn't.

I do risky things too (especially as I've said in Chinese cooking eating). But I guess I'm more comfortable in Risks that are well traveled and don't feel to me like someone just got real lucky.

That said. Many folks I know who do risky things with food and modern tech help reduce their risk by only doing especially risky things with local, organic foods from growers/breeders they trust and with heirloom varieties. Obviously this doesn't avoid accidental inoculation with something horrible but does tend to factor out pure neglect or menace.

I can't pretend to have all the answers. I just think some of the answers we have are ill founded. And I have a suspicion that some are like having an alligator-repellent rock in Alaska (well you don't see any alligators around here do you?).
posted by kalessin at 7:27 AM on October 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


I just ate a handful of freeze dried strawberries from Trader Joe's, and something had a funny texture. I reached into my mouth and pulled out a silica packet. I'd ask, but... Anyhow, it's been nice knowing y'all.
posted by Mchelly at 7:50 AM on October 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


Oh hey is this where I leave the story of the time I was eating a (bought from fancy supermarket) broccoli quiche and something was hard to bite through and when I spat it out and it was analysed by Environmental Health it was a Colombian dung beetle? (Well, half of one)
posted by billiebee at 8:00 AM on October 21, 2015


I do one risk-avoidy-seeming thing, which is that I buy most of what I eat direct from the farmer that raised whateveritis--which means I won't fall victim to national outbreaks of listeria, e. coli, salmonella yadda. Of course this leaves me vulnerable to local, artisanal outbreaks of listeria, e. coli, salmonella yadda. Which may or may not be more likely than the national CAFO-driven, unregulated-slave-labor-harvested kind; I don't know or care. All I know is, I don't care if it kills me, I am not eating boiled cheese.

The real reason that eating from the farmer's hand is riskier is that if I succumb to some microbe and don't die immediately but go into the hospital for a time, I will have to spend my last hours on earth listening to endless yap about how foolish I was to allow an atom of food uncertified by the FDA into my world. I'm not afraid of dying of vibriosis from eating raw oysters year round as much as I'm afraid of hearing "toejisso" from medical professionals as I lie dying. Well, that, and leaving a legacy of hasty internet comments that suggest I think it's "Ethnic Food" that's dangerous and that if I just stick to ham and cheese I'll be fine. I would like to state for the record that I do not suffer from that delusion. If I come down with something, it's as likely to have been the grocery ham slices that did it as the unpasteurized goatmilk kefir or the "pet food only" mutton roast or leftover Hunan spicy pork intestine from the Chinese restaurant or the omelet I made with the chantrelles I harvested out of the exboyfriend's yard.

I chewed for a while on a lightly simmered stinkbug a couple months ago when I was eating greens. It was not delectable. I spat it out and finished the greens.
posted by Don Pepino at 8:22 AM on October 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


> . I reached into my mouth and pulled out a silica packet. I'd ask, but...

Pro tip: do not eat things that say DO NOT EAT on them.

(Did anyone else read the Grimble book where his parents left him a cookie with "do not eat this as eating green ink is bad for you" written on it in green ink)
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:05 AM on October 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Pro tip: do not eat things that say DO NOT EAT on them.

How about you back off with your RULES, oppressor?
posted by Chrysostom at 10:24 AM on October 21, 2015 [15 favorites]


I don't feel like sarcasm is the appropriate response here, even though it may be funny to some folks. But maybe I'm too conservative about humor.
posted by kalessin at 11:03 AM on October 21, 2015


No offense was meant, kalessin. I'm sorry if that came off as insensitive.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:12 AM on October 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


the time I was eating a (bought from fancy supermarket) broccoli quiche and something was hard to bite through

Q: What's worse than finding a Colombian dung beetle in your broccoli quiche?
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:39 AM on October 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


A: Nothing, broccoli is literally the worst.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:22 PM on October 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


No, broccoli is awesome. Especially if you let ripen in the bottom of your crisper for six months, then make a casserole with that old milk and cheese you've been keeping for just this occasion, then garnish with the piquant ham you've left on the counter.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:54 PM on October 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


Hey Miko, no worries, I know that stuff. And if you have botulism toxin in some garliky dish you canned, boiling for more than 10 minutes destroys it. The toxin is fragile, moreso then the spores. I finished up the Goat stew I put up last summer, and I am working through the pigeon pea goulasch with garlic and onions. I tend to make tart soups anyway.
I canned
The plums...
posted by Oyéah at 1:59 PM on October 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I found an apricot behind the fridge; it must have rolled back there when I got some one of those times when they're in season. Can I eat this?
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:38 PM on October 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


DO NOT TAUNT HAPPY FUN APRICOT
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 4:51 AM on October 25, 2015


Sigh. Someone has to do it:

This is just to say

I have eaten
the apricot
that was behind
the icebox

and which
you were probably
unaware
had rolled there

Help me
It was so bitter
so moldy
and so psychedelic
I'm tripping balls
posted by five fresh fish at 10:32 PM on October 25, 2015 [9 favorites]


i have a grumble about "can i eat this?" threads, which i guess i could dump here, out of sight, to get it off my chest:
  1. we know that not all bad things can be smelt or tasted. after all, if that were the case, we wouldn't need to ask if it was ok to eat, would we?
  2. just because you can recite long latinate names of various bugs doesn't mean that OP is any more likely to be ill.
  3. if there's a wide spread of different answers, then most likely the ones saying "you will certainly die" and the ones saying "you will certainly be fine" are mistaken.
  4. in the end, these threads boil down to some kind of poll, which gives OP a rough probability of how likely it is that eating will lead to unhappy times.
  5. in a poll any one voice is not particularly important.
so, given all the above, i sometimes feel some posters could, perhaps, calm down just a little, and not act like it's their unique responsibility to save OP from painful, messy, certain death. maybe?
posted by andrewcooke at 5:07 PM on October 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


While I hear what you're saying, it's hard for people who have expertise in an area see that area come up and not want to share what they know. I mean, no one's going to die or anything, but I'm banging on about makeup in another thread right now because I Know Stuff!!1! So people sharing the food safety thing are acting from a good place I think, especially considering how much it's probably been drummed into them for a living. But I totally agree that the "kill it with fire" answers are balanced out by the "that sounds yum eat it immediately"* ones so ultimately the threads are just a straw poll.

*hi mum!
posted by billiebee at 5:39 PM on October 28, 2015


One might hope, andrewcooke, that the voices of those who actually know something about the subject at hand outweigh the voices that, frankly, give not only wrong advice, but advice that is actually dangerous in many cases.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:22 PM on October 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


I read up on the botulism death statistics. There are about 147 deaths per year. This puts it in the, safer than showering with yer toaster, range. 65 percent are infant cases from immaturity maybe honey, 25 percent intravenous drug use and 15 percent from home canning. I guesses that was about 21 people per year do themselves in, or are done in by poor canning methods. So it seems millions and millions of folks home can with good results. If you are willing to boil the apricot from behind the fridge, after removing the pit, for at least the amount of time it was back there, you should be good to go.
posted by Oyéah at 9:01 AM on October 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


21 people per year do themselves in, or are done in by poor canning methods

What is this, US-wide, worldwide or what now?

I guess if cruel death in this category is so easy to avoid (like in: just don't eat this thing), I really care less about who else was also so smart, and prefer focusing on the item in front of me. Also the violent-diarrhoea-permanently-ill statistics interest me more, if I'm honest.

There is a parallel here with picking and eating wild toadstools/mushrooms. Many people get away with having not more than a rudimentary grip on what to look for or avoid. Statistics per capita must be really favourable to the idea that 'picking mushrooms isn't a big deal if you avoid one thing or two.'
Real-life mushroom picking is much trickier, what with bad species blended in in areas of edible ones and lookalikes and whatnot, and the consequences can be too dire to even contemplate. So the advise 'don't pick mushrooms you cannot identify 100%' (because they don't cost anything anyway and if you eat some of them, you may survive with your kidneys totally shot, or not survive at all) is not paranoid, its just the sanest way to get about it.
posted by Namlit at 9:38 AM on October 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Permanently-ill? I'm not saying all permanent intestinal diseases can be treated the way C-Diff can be, but have you heard of poop transplants? They're a thing.

I do think Oyéah's data suggests we may be worrying about a thing that need not be worried at too hard. Yes food-borne ilinesses/parasites are avoidable and should be avoided, but even the possibly flawed WHO-published warning against meats-causing colon-cancer sounds like it's way more significant a risk than botulinum and salmonella and so on, with respect to long term survivability.
posted by kalessin at 11:54 AM on October 29, 2015


If you are willing to boil the apricot from behind the fridge, after removing the pit, for at least the amount of time it was back there, you should be good to go.

Oyéah, did you see the apricot he's talking about? Boiling would just piss it off.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 12:24 PM on October 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


Futures in laser canning. First you have to kill the apricot.

The figures are from the US.
posted by Oyéah at 1:45 PM on October 29, 2015


Ok I hear you kalessin (and I'll easily admit that I'm wayy more lax than fffm, but then, I'm Western European and, hence, lax. Cultural connotations herewith affirmed).
But before poop transplants have become the thing, not just a thing, I'd better not be too lax was all I was saying (Also, before I was old enough to take care of my own food safety, some school-induced Sausage-disasters taught me some of it all, so I'm not entirely inexperienced about that end of the spectrum...)
posted by Namlit at 1:53 PM on October 29, 2015


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