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View Full Version : Is spoiled food actually safe to eat?


G$
08-10-2011, 12:27 PM
Not the greatest article, but interesting nonetheless. Some snippets:

Spoilage bacteria turn last week's roast chicken into a scene from Zombie Flesh Eaters. Like the undead, they're everywhere (air, soil, water, plants, and animals), so the invasion of your groceries is pretty much inevitable. Evolved to consume corpses and dead plants, which are customarily served cool, they're the dominant bacteria in your 35-40-degree fridge. (Conversely, temperatures above 85 degrees enervate them.) The stench is from the breakdown of amino acids into amines, which include the evocatively named cadaverine, putrescine, and spermidine. As repulsive as they are, only one, histamine, has been linked to negative health effects, and that's just for people who have allergies to it or who eat certain kinds of improperly stored fish. Spoilage bacteria are harmless.
and
Pathogenic bacteria make you wish you could exchange your Caribbean bungalow for a hospital room with an IV drip and a bedpan. The preferred habitat of salmonella, E. coli, and campylobacter—three moderately serious foodborne illnesses—is the nutrient-packed guts of warm-blooded animals, but these also do well at room temperature. The journey to your plate usually starts at the slaughterhouse or meat processing facility, where a minute amount of animal poop gets on your future burger. So long as the meat's under refrigeration, that's no big deal, since cold inhibits the proliferation of pathogens (most people can fight off low doses). But then—maybe at home, more likely at a food-service establishment—the ground beef sits out for several hours, allowing the bacteria to multiply. As a finishing touch, you order your patty medium rare, so the center doesn't get hot enough to kill its microscopic passengers. It smells good, looks good, tastes good. (Pathogenic bacteria provide no sensory clues as to their presence in food.) But hours to days later: stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea, or worse.



Read the whole thing here:
http://www.slate.com/id/2300787/pagenum/all/#p2

Matt_A
08-10-2011, 01:26 PM
Biologically speaking, yes, most spoiled food IS safe to eat. Our bodies produce these amines in small amount naturally. Massive amounts of these amines can be toxic, but rotting food doesn't produce toxic levels.

Another consideration would be the effects of the various highly aromatic amines on the smell and flavor of the cooked product. Heating the amines Cadaverine, Putrescine, and Spermine has a tendency to intensity the odor dramatically.

So, in a survival situation, it could be said that PROPERLY cooking spoiled meat can render it safe to eat, but palatability is a whole other issue. :puke:

Gore
08-10-2011, 01:36 PM
Humans have been eating spoiled meat for as long as there have been humans. For only a very small period have we had refrigeration and meat goes bad quickly unrefrigerated. This is the reason spices were so expensive and the source of wealth, especially for Portugal, the Netherlands, and later England. Food that was not cooked became sour. It usually was ground up, mixed with whatever spices were available and turned into sausage. The spices were used to cover up the sourness. Of course there often was a sour taste and people became accustomed to it and enjoyed it. Consider corned beef and NC-style BBQ. Both probably had their origins in spoiled meat. We no longer let the meat spoil, but make it sour artificially with vinegar. Much of the world still eats spoiled meat.

Oliverbbq
08-10-2011, 01:44 PM
I think anything heated to the point where no bacteria can live would be alright to eat... I wouldn't recommend it though. I've eaten some questionable stuff, but if it actually smells bad I won't eat it.

As I've said in another post, I've actually left a bucket of Popeye's chicken in my truck for like 2-3 days in 90 degree weather, got drunk and ate it. I felt fine the next day.

Gore
08-10-2011, 01:48 PM
^^^ It's amazing what we can eat and not get sick. At the same time, just because it is safe to eat doesn't mean I'm going to eat it. Meat that is off to me doesn't taste good and I'm going to toss it.

EastSideRich
08-16-2011, 09:34 AM
I've actually left a bucket of Popeye's chicken in my truck for like 2-3 days in 90 degree weather, got drunk and ate it. I felt fine the next day.

Wow. :shocked:
Funny and horrifying at the same time.
Glad you didn't get sick.

I don't know if it's saying more about you, the human digestive system, or fast food in general. I'm trying to eat it as little as possible (any fast food), as I don't think it's really food.
The World's First Bionic Burger - YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYyDXH1amic)

Al Czervik
08-16-2011, 10:09 AM
Humans have been eating spoiled meat for as long as there have been humans. For only a very small period have we had refrigeration and meat goes bad quickly unrefrigerated. This is the reason spices were so expensive and the source of wealth, especially for Portugal, the Netherlands, and later England. Food that was not cooked became sour. It usually was ground up, mixed with whatever spices were available and turned into sausage. The spices were used to cover up the sourness. Of course there often was a sour taste and people became accustomed to it and enjoyed it. Consider corned beef and NC-style BBQ. Both probably had their origins in spoiled meat. We no longer let the meat spoil, but make it sour artificially with vinegar. Much of the world still eats spoiled meat.

Gore... Thanks for history lesson! :thumb:

RickterScale
08-16-2011, 01:39 PM
Thanks for the info...I think I'll go pick through my neighbor's trash for some groceries.