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Dr Sarah Taber

  • Front End Developer
  • India

Yep! "Spoilage organisms" (molds & yeasts that make food taste/smell off) & the actual pathogens that can make you sick are COMPLETELY DIFFERENT CRITTERS.

Spoiled food has usually been sitting around long enough to grow spoilage organisms probably *also* has pathogens growing in it. So it IS pretty likely to make you sick. But it's a Venn diagram with a lot of overlap, not "smells ok always means it's safe to eat."

THAT'S WHY WE MAKE RESTAURANTS KEEP THEIR MEAT AT THE RIGHT TEMPERATURE INSTEAD OF "YEAH JUST KEEP SERVING IT TIL IT STINKS"

Food donations have a very important place in alleviating hunger! Like, say a bakery doesn't want to sell day-old loaves. That's fine. They make good donations. Day-old bread just tastes a lil different, it's not gonna hurt you.

That said, NOT EVERY DONOR IS LIKE THAT. I've had LOTS of clients try to use "donating" to dump food nobody will buy bc something's deeply nasty in their facility. 🙃 but lotsa food "charities" don't ask those questions! they just print you out a receipt for tax write-offs! 🙃

So I tell them "hey maybe you should just fix your shit ASAP. instead of laundering it through a charity for the tax writeoff, forcing unwitting poor people who already have enough problems to shoulder the health risks you've created by not having your shit together"

oh you think people who work minimum-wage jobs can afford to take 2 days off for all the diarrhea you're about to give them? how very cool & woke of you

tl;dr: there are often GREAT reasons to throw food away rather than donate. chapter 5,389 of why moral panic over food waste is, among other things, a useful tool shitty people can use to get away with making garbage. : / So pls consume food waste narratives critically.

As someone who works in a large and busy produce section I cannot stress this enough to people. So often customers or even other coworkers bother me and call me wasteful etc (even tho we compost it all) just cuz something isn’t covered in mold. THE DATE IS THERE FOR A REASON

And, no amount of cooking will remove those toxins

When I worked at a processing plant in QC, I joked with a microbiologist about surfaces employees were treating as "clean" and some were preparing their breakfast there despite "no food or drink here" signs "But its SHINY! There can't be pathogens if it's SHINY!"