Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Dude, Your Crock Pot Reeks

I received a great email question, and because of the time crunch, I emailed it back before I posted a blog. Here's a copy of the email exchange.

Dear Tricia, I have a question for you, but you are probably not going to get to it in time, but I thought I'd give it a try. I bought a roast late last week (Friday the 8th) and this morning finally put it in the crockpot. The sell by date on it was Jan 11th. (Yesterday) It had some brown parts on it, and it had a little bit of a funny smell. As it's cooking, I can smell that funny smell a bit still. It's only been cooking about 1 hour. I'm not sure if it's unsafe to eat or not. What I had planned to do was cook it til it was very easy to shred. Then I drain out the juices and fat and shred it and then add some salsa and seasonings and have the meat in tacos. What would you do?

Thanks so much for reading. I'm going to just answer your email first instead of posting it on the blog since I'm short on time for writing this week and since your situation seems to be kind of pressing. No one loves food poisoning. But if the sell by date is January 11, that usually means you have a couple of days to eat it before it's spoiled, otherwise it would say "use by." This is a liability thing for grocery stores and it just clears them if you happened to get sick and tried to blame it on the butcher. Brown spots are fine: that's just oxygen settling into the beef and changing the color, or "oxodizing." It's ugly, but its not unsafe. However, if you think it smelled bad, go with your gut. The best call for bad food is a judgment call, and that involves using your nose, eyes, and brain. You can also call the meat department at the store you bought it from and ask them how many days after the sell-by date you can cook it. They might have a better idea than me. But again, if its smelling bad... better safe than sorry. Or you can just go ahead and make your delicious tacos, give them to your arch nemesis, and see if they get explosive food poisoning. I'd love to hear the results about that one.
In the mean time, feel free to check out my blog entry on leftovers in the archives, "On Top of Spaghetti, All Covered in Mold." It gives you some more specifics on certain types of leftovers' shelf lives and I also bash the health department a little bit. God I love doing that, especially on a bad day.

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