College food safety

Many years ago when I was a freshman at Wesleyan my roommate received a “third and final notice” at the campus post office for a package that had been sitting there for weeks. It was soon after Christmas break when he picked it up. It was a care package from his grandmother that had been intended for him during exam period first semester. Among other items was a tray of brownies. As an experiment (and because my roomie was a jokester) he left the tray out and offered the brownies around. No one seemed to notice that these brownies were well past their pull date. Eventually my roommate decided to try one for himself and concluded they weren’t half bad.

He would have enjoyed CNN Health’s Student diet 101: Don’t eat mold

A survey of more than 4,000 college students published in 2008 in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that “young adults, particularly white men, engage in risky eating behaviors…

College students aren’t generally known for healthy eating. Busy schedules and tight budgets — and sometimes a lack of knowledge about food — can result in not-the-greatest choices. Outside the dining halls, the college student diet may rely heavily on ramen noodles, beer, cereal and leftovers. Today, a few food experts offer advice on ways to balance health and frugality, since many students are new to the kitchen and crunched for cash.

The article has some helpful Q&A, although these queries are pretty tame by the standards of my era:

Q: Can I cut the mold off the bread/cheese and eat the rest?

A: No. If you can see it the mold has spread.

Q: Do dry packaged foods like ramen or boxed macaroni and cheese last forever?

A: Pretty much.

Q: The pizza from last night has been sitting out on the counter. Can I eat it for breakfast?

A: You probably shouldn’t but on the other hand it’s probably fine.

Q: Should I drink milk after its use-by date? What about eggs?

A: If it tastes ok it’s probably fine.

Q: Should I drink the water after the expiration date has passed on the bottle?

A: Go ahead.

August 11, 2009

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