How concerned should you be about expiration dates stamped on items you buy from the grocery store?
Welcome to Skeptical Sunday, a special edition of The Jordan Harbinger Show where Jordan and fact-checker, comedian, and podcast host David C. Smalley break down a topic that you may have never thought about, open things up, and debunk common misconceptions.
On This Week’s Skeptical Sunday, We Discuss:
- What really determines the expiration date that gets stamped on an item from the grocery store?
- Is there a difference between “sell by,” “buy by,” and “use before” expiration warnings?
- What federal regulations dictate expiration dates for the protection of the consumer?
- How dangerous is it to ignore an expiration date on something like a gallon of milk, and what variables might change this?
- Why most cases of food poisoning have very little to do with the lackadaisical observance of expiration dates, and how you should really be gauging if something is still fit for consumption.
- And much more!
- Connect with Jordan on Twitter, on Instagram, and on YouTube. If you have something you’d like us to tackle here on Skeptical Sunday, drop Jordan a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and let him know!
- Connect with David at his website, on Twitter, on Instagram, on TikTok, and on YouTube, and make sure to check out The David C. Smalley Podcast here or wherever you enjoy listening to fine podcasts! If you like to get out of your house and catch live comedy, keep an eye on David’s tour dates here and text David directly at (424) 306-0798 for tickets when he comes to your town!
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Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
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Resources from This Episode:
- Food Allergies | FDA
- Health Benefits of a Vegan Diet | Rush System
- Food Waste FAQs | USDA
- Grocery Delivery for Organic Food, Fresh Produce, & More | Imperfect Foods
- Food Waste Recycling Analysis, Reduce Food Waste, & Food Recovery | ReFED
- EXPIRED? Food Waste in America | Sustainability at Harvard
- Don Schaffner | Twitter
- How Long Is Milk Good for After the Sell-By Date? | Healthline
- Op-Ed: Is That Milk past Its ‘Sell By’ Date? Drink It Anyway. | Los Angeles Times
- Spoiled Milk: Risks and Beneficial Uses | Healthline
- Dana Gunders | Twitter
- Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill | NDRC
- The Zero Waste Movement with Dana Gunders | Unwasted Podcast
- Sana Mujahid | Consumer Reports
- Are Frozen Fruits and Vegetables Healthy and Safe? | Consumer Reports
- How to Avoid Food Poisoning This Summer | Consumer Reports
- Stop Dating Your Food: The Problem with Expiration Dates | Imperfect Foods
- Jena Roberts | LinkedIn
- “Sell By” And “Best By” Dates on Food Are Basically Made Up — But Hard to Get Rid Of | Smithsonian Magazine
- FMI | The Food Industry Association
- Contact CFSAN | FDA
646: Expiration Dates | Skeptical Sunday
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger, and this is Skeptical Sunday, a special edition of The Jordan Harbinger Show, where fact-checker and comedian David C Smalley and I break down a topic that you may have never thought about. We opened things up and debunk some common misconceptions topics, such as why the Olympics are kind of a sham, why expiration dates are nonsense, why tipping makes absolutely no sense, and lots more.
[00:00:26] Normally, on The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets and skills of the world's most fascinating people and we turn their wisdom into practical advice that you can use to impact your own life and those around you. We have long-form interviews and conversations with a variety of incredible people from spies to CEOs, athletes to authors, thinkers, and performers. And we want to help you see the Matrix when it comes to how these amazing people think and behave. Our mission is to help you become a better informed, more critical thinker. So you can get a deeper understanding of how the world works and make sense of what's really happening, even inside your own mind.
[00:00:59] Now, if you're new to the show or you want to tell your friends about it, I suggest our episode starter packs. These are collections of our favorite episodes organized by topic to help new listeners get a taste of everything we do here on the show — topics like persuasion, influence, negotiation and communication, China and North Korea, crime and cults, and more. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start or take a look on your Spotify app to get started.
[00:01:23] Today on this edition of Skeptical Sunday, expiration dates — are these legit? Do things expire? What does that even mean? And if things are expired, does it mean that I can't eat them or just that they're less tasty or delicious, maybe a little bit less safe than before. I don't know. It turns out a lot of what we think we know about this is just nonsense or it's marketing, or it's crafted more by lawyers than scientists. And sometimes, it's just completely made up. So make yourself an expired egg omelet, pour yourself some curdled milk, sit back and enjoy this premiere episode of Skeptical Sunday.
[00:02:01] David, I'm excited to do this show because, you know, I've got kids, two little ones. One of which is a super picky eater. The other one is fed by my wife, so isn't there yet. And I've got my parents in town and it's like, we've got leftovers in the fridge and we've got all this stuff that we bought that we like didn't cook or didn't cook all of it. And I clean out the fridge, the sense of shame just washes over me, right? Because I'm throwing things away. One that I bought that weren't cheap, but also that look perfectly fine. But with kids, you know, my wife's like, "Well, look better safe than sorry. We've got little kids. They can't tell us if something doesn't taste right." So I ended up throwing away so much food and I was raised not to do that. So it's driving me crazy. And I want to know, are these expiration dates legit or is it just like, "Hey, we want to sell more food so it goes bad fast"? I mean, I've got all kinds of little stupid conspiracy theories running through my head or as a lawyer, a little bit of, maybe they just have to tell you this because this is the quickest they can go bad, but usually it lasts three times as long, but they don't want to get sued. You know, I don't know. What's the right answer here?
[00:03:02] David C. Smalley: Man, you just summed up most people's thoughts on this entire concept of expiration date. Now, I do have some data for you. I have some very specific things that I want to get into, and I'm going to address all of your concerns today about that.
[00:03:16] I want to start by saying this I'm someone, if you were to pull the people in my family, like who's the guy most worried about expiration dates or like spots on forks or like smelling food before I eat it. I'm the weirdo that's looking in the light to see if there's anything on the thing, because I've always had digestive issues. I've always been sensitive to food. It's not that I have OCD or that I'm struggling with something. It's strictly about for years I've had stomach problems and I could never figure out what was going on. I finally did one of those food allergy tests and I have 29 food allergies and it's across the whole spectrum. It's like bananas and kale. There's chicken. You name it. It's probably on my list. Sometimes I have so many. Sometimes when I see something on a menu, I'll go open my test results to see, and I'll be like, "Oh, yep. I knew it. I can't have hummus," little things like that.
[00:04:03] So going vegan helped me. I'm kind of a forced vegan and I do some of my standup comedy about I'm getting fatter as a vegan because I have so much more junk food available, like tater tots are vegan. And, you know, potato chips are vegan and Skittles are vegan. And sometimes that's the only thing available to me without eating even healthier meats or foods. But I've gotten food poisoning twice, and both times it was from really bad food. And the most recent time, I was violently ill, I ended up at even passing out.
[00:04:33] Jordan Harbinger: Oh wow.
[00:04:34] David C. Smalley: And it turned out to be I'd eaten Miracle Whip that had expired by four months.
[00:04:40] Jordan Harbinger: That's a decently long time to have—
[00:04:42] David C. Smalley: I know.
[00:04:42] Jordan Harbinger: —expired.
[00:04:43] David C. Smalley: So whenever we talk about expiration dates, most of these have to do with before you open the container. Okay.
[00:04:50] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:04:50] David C. Smalley: So let's just get into that piece and I'll address it again later because—
[00:04:54] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:04:55] David C. Smalley: You know, once you open it, things definitely change.
[00:04:57] Jordan Harbinger: The clock starts running, but I want to disclaim first though, that like, if we debunk some expiration date stuff, don't then go eat six-month-old Miracle Whip, for example, or a carton of milk—
[00:05:08] David C. Smalley: Right.
[00:05:08] Jordan Harbinger: —that's three months old because you're like, "Well, Jordan and Dave said like—" no.
[00:05:12] David C. Smalley: Yeah, no.
[00:05:12] Jordan Harbinger: You are on your own here. Like we're telling you what we think they mean, but maybe there is a reason that that date is on there and maybe you should follow it. So up to you, at your own risk, I suppose, right?
[00:05:25] David C. Smalley: And again, I'm going to provide some information about where people can go to look up, how long things lasts, and some even phone numbers they can call about food safety. So we want you to be skeptical of these things. Not completely take our word for everything you're about to hear. And we're definitely not responsible if you get sick.
[00:05:39] Jordan Harbinger: That's right.
[00:05:40] David C. Smalley: But with all that said, most people just have no idea what the dates on foods mean.
[00:05:45] Jordan Harbinger: Not only do we not know what they mean, the amount of waste — like if I cleaned out my fridge and I'm mindfully trying not to waste food and I habitually don't buy too much and go shopping more often, et cetera, if I'm doing that, imagine what a restaurant is doing, or somebody who has a humongous family or throws events, right? I mean, how much waste is there? Do we have any idea? Somebody must have done the math on this.
[00:06:09] David C. Smalley: Absolutely. 30 to 40 percent of food that is produced in the United States and it tends to be upwards of 40 percent—
[00:06:15] Jordan Harbinger: Oh my god.
[00:06:16] David C. Smalley: —that is produced in the United States, is wasted.
[00:06:19] Jordan Harbinger: That's horrible.
[00:06:20] David C. Smalley: Completely thrown out. That's 160 billion pounds of. $408-billion worth of food. That's about two percent of the entire US GDP.
[00:06:29] Jordan Harbinger: Unreal.
[00:06:29] David C. Smalley: What you just did when you were talking about throwing out food every year, the average American family throws out somewhere between $1,300 to $2,200 worth of food. And here's an even scarier part. 25 percent of fresh water in the United States goes toward producing food that goes uneaten and 21 percent of the input into our landfills is food, which represents a per capita increase of 50 percent just since 1974. So we are throwing away tons of food. Most of it way before it needs to be thrown away.
[00:07:03] Jordan Harbinger: Ah, that's so sad. So that's 25 percent of fresh water is being wasted. So it was being used for food and then that's what's wasted or that's being used for food, and then 40 percent of that is wasted.
[00:07:14] David C. Smalley: No, no, no, no, no, no. 40 percent of the food that we produce in the United States takes up 25 percent of the clean water. And then we throw that food away.
[00:07:22] Jordan Harbinger: Oh my god. So we're wasting 25 percent of the water, and in addition to the food. That is horrifying. That's so horrible. Look, I looked at the food that I was throwing out and some of it was best by this date. Some of it was sell by this date. And that, to me, sounds like two different things sell by this date because they're going to eat it over the next week, best by and it might be a little crusty on the outside, but still fine. And then use before, and then it's like, okay, so after this don't even eat it.
[00:07:49] David C. Smalley: Jordan, Jordan, none of this is real.
[00:07:52] Jordan Harbinger: It's all pretend.
[00:07:53] David C. Smalley: Listen, it's all completely made up. So here's the thing. Despite the fact that these dates are typically nothing more than freshness suggestions from the manufacturer.
[00:08:02] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:08:02] David C. Smalley: 36 percent of customers in the United States incorrectly believe that these are federally regulated food safety dates.
[00:08:09] Jordan Harbinger: I certainly thought that.
[00:08:11] David C. Smalley: I'm about to blow your mind. The FDA has no federal requirement on expiration dates on any food other than baby formula. Like, there's not even a requirement on baby food, just formula. Nothing else is federally regulated.
[00:08:27] Jordan Harbinger: What about milk? Like that definitely has an expiration date. We've all been there.
[00:08:31] David C. Smalley: Yeah, I'm going to get there. Look, Imperfect Foods is this website where they deal with a lot of these issues. They note that 80 percent of consumers, 80 percent, report that they discard food prematurely because of confusion around these dates. And experts at ReFED estimate that standardizing our approach to expiration dates as a country, like on a federal level could save over 398,000 tons or over 700 million pounds of food every single year. And it would also save 192 billion gallons of water from going to waste, but there is no regulation on the federal level.
[00:09:05] Notice these differences, like you're saying, sell by, best by, use by, fresh by, used before, fresh until, and sometimes there's just a date stamped on it with no meaning behind it. And I know you're concerned about milk. Everybody's got to be like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, but milk— definitely milk, right?" You think so, but there are only 16 states that have laws forcing labels on milk. It's only 16. So it's actually a minority of states that even have laws around labeling milk. And they all vary by the way, because none of them are scientifically based.
[00:09:37] There's a group called the Harvard Food Law Policy Clinic. And they released a short film called Expired? Food Waste in America, where they address these kinds of issues. And this food scientist, Don Schaffner says, and I'm quoting from him. He says. "Milk is pasteurized. So it should not contain pathogenic bacteria like salmonella or E. Coli. So the risks from drinking spoiled milk are virtually zero." And here's where it's important to point out the opening aspect of it, right?
[00:10:05] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:10:05] David C. Smalley: So what he's talking about, and they didn't really clarify this in the film. So I want to make sure because I fact-checked that film as well. That's if you buy a gallon of milk and stick it in your refrigerator or buy a carton of milk and stick it in your fridge and then don't touch it. And then the expiration date comes, you come out the next morning and go, "You haven't opened it yet," and you go, "Oh, this expired yesterday." If you throw that away, it's a mistake. You should not throw that away because it hasn't been opened. It hasn't been exposed to bacteria yet more than likely you're going to be fine. But once you open the milk and then you pour a little out and then you close it up, now that it has been exposed to the environment and overtime, those small bacteria communities can multiply and eventually cause your milk to spoil and become dangerous.
[00:10:50] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, this is why I can have baby milk in a plastic container in a pantry for like three months. And I'm like, "How is this milk just at room temperature in a container in the dark and this other milk that I bought from the fridge has to be kept cold and expires in a week?" Like what's going on?
[00:11:06] David C. Smalley: Exactly. It's the same with like the condensed milk canisters for people who like to cook. It'll stay good for a long time up there.
[00:11:12] Jordan Harbinger: Okay. So we kind of know that spoiled milk smells horrible. I assume the wisdom here is trust your taste buds or your nose, hopefully, you never get that far.
[00:11:21] David C. Smalley: The stats on milk are pretty standard. I mean, those state laws are super weird about it. Just as an example, the milk thing typically after it's pasteurized scientists say milk is good for about 22 days after it's pasteurized, but most milk is labeled free to throw it away between seven to 12 days after pasteurization. So you've got an entire other week where milk is typically good if you have an open yet, right? Again, if you haven't opened it. Now, once you open it, it's still, probably not bad the day it stamped on the thing. So you should look for certain warning signs.
[00:11:56] And so according to Healthline, just to look for things like an unpleasant rancid odor, which milk already has that but whatever, but the specific scent is really hard to miss. It gets stronger with time. The taste begins to change. The natural sweetness of fresh milk, it gets replaced by this acidic or sour flavor. And with enough time, the texture of milk and the color of milk are actually going to change as well. So it's going to develop this like slimy, chunky texture, dingy, yellow. We've all seen spoiled milk.
[00:12:23] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I mean, milk is, I guess, the least of our concerns. You know, what I'm looking at are things like fruits. The fruit seems fine. It's fruit.
[00:12:32] David C. Smalley: It actually will just most likely make you drunk. That's literally how they make alcohol in prison. They save their fruit and they let it rot in a bag and then they eat it or drink it and get a buzz. It's very rare for you to actually get dangerously ill from eating fruits past their date like that.
[00:12:49] That website, I was talking about Imperfect Foods, they post on their website, this quote, "Well-intentioned people throw away food that's past its use by date because they believe old food will make them sick. When in reality, foodborne illnesses come from contamination, not from the natural process of decay. Dana Gunders explains that, quote, "A common misconception out there is that we get sick from old food. And that's not actually true. When you hear about someone getting food poisoning, it tends to be from a pathogen that was on the food already, like salmonella, E. coli, or listeria.
[00:13:22] Jordan Harbinger: Okay. Right. So like when you eat an egg, and it's like, "These eggs were expired. I've got salmonella." It's like, no, you ate an egg with salmonella, whether it was a fresh egg or not.
[00:13:31] David C. Smalley: Right. So it's very possible that like the Miracle Whip I ate didn't make me sick because it was four months old. It's very possible, the jar had been opened multiple times and I'd use it for other foods. So what likely happened was I cross-contaminated the Miracle Whip by putting the knife in there or something got dropped in there and that I closed it up and then it sat there for five weeks. And it sort of grew into something that made it more dangerous as to where everything else was washed off. So I'm not trying to throw the Miracle Whip under the bus and say that four months after that date, it's bad. I'm saying that it was likely cross-contaminated because it had been opened multiple times. And that's what the food experts tend to say.
[00:14:07] Jordan Harbinger: You got that chicken juice in there, hmm.
[00:14:09] David C. Smalley: It's something. Yeah, something could have dropped in there and made me really sick. And it was right before I went full vegan too.
[00:14:16] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:14:17] David C. Smalley: Yeah, I'm not touching that stuff anymore.
[00:14:18] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I don't blame you.
[00:14:19] David C. Smalley: But like what Dana Gunders says in that article, that she also mentioned this on a podcast called Unwasted, which I definitely recommend if people want to get more up to speed on some of these rules and laws and like ideas on how to tell when your food is a little more questionable. She says your body's well-equipped to know when not to eat foods. You don't get a stomachache. So if it looks bad, smells bad, tastes bad, don't eat it. If it looks fine, smells fine, tastes fine, it should be fine to eat. And the research bears that out. Following your nose, it's just a fundamentally sound approach to doing that.
[00:14:50] There's a PhD named Sana Mujahid. And she's the manager of food safety research at Consumer Reports. And she says the best way to know whether a perishable food is spoiled is to just trust your taste buds and your sense of smell. So you're on the right track when you say you're looking at this food and you're like, "This smells fine. This looks fine. This should be okay." You're probably right. And I think back to all the times, I look at the sell by date on the bread and it was yesterday, so I throw the bread away, or the cereal is expired so I'll throw it away. Or milk, especially if it went bad yesterday, I throw it out. I write the date on there. That's just not the way this works.
[00:15:24] I'm ranting, but there's one more person I want to mention is Jena Roberts. She runs a food testing firm focused on assessing the shelf stability of packaged foods. She said this on the Imperfect Foods' website as well. And I'm quoting, "If the food is consumed after its ideal quality date, it is not harmful in most cases. A strawberry-flavored beverage may lose its red color. The oats and a granola bar may lose their crunch, or the chocolate clusters in a cereal may start to bloom and turn white." I've seen tons of bars where like the chocolates turn white and I'm like, that's trash. It's not, it's just the chocolate and it looks a little weird.
[00:16:00] Jordan Harbinger: What does that mean?
[00:16:01] David C. Smalley: It's exposure to the air—
[00:16:03] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, it's like oxidizing.
[00:16:04] David C. Smalley: —is what they're talking about.
[00:16:04] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, okay.
[00:16:05] David C. Smalley: It may not even taste all that great. Chocolates get left out and they kind of get melty and you go, "Oh no, this melted last night. I wonder if I can still eat it." According to her and Imperfect Foods, it's fine. While it may not look appetizing and it may even taste a little weird, it's still very likely safe to eat. But then she admits, and here's the interesting thing about this, she admits that the difference between food quality and food safety is such a confusing subject that even some of her colleagues get confused. It's kind of hard to keep track of it all.
[00:16:37] Jordan Harbinger: You're listening to Skeptical Sunday on The Jordan Harbinger Show. We'll be right back.
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[00:18:45] Now, for the rest of Skeptical Sunday.
[00:18:48] So if the scientists are sometimes unsure, I'm guessing there's not much consistency among states or other countries. Like I imagine the EU probably has their guidelines around this, right? But if the scientists are even unsure, there's no way that different states and municipalities are going to get their act together and standardize this.
[00:19:06] David C. Smalley: Right. Right. And that's why the people who really care about this issue are pushing for like a federal regulation on it. Here's a couple of examples. Only three states have laws on labeling meat and poultry — three. So you're talking 47 states don't give a damn if meat is labeled on there or not. 14 states have laws on labeling eggs. 25, this was the highest that I found, 25 states have laws on labeling shellfish.
[00:19:31] Jordan Harbinger: Now that makes sense. Shellfish can eff you up so bad if you get a bad one.
[00:19:36] David C. Smalley: Right. But even then, only half the states have laws on labelling. Most states — this is going to get into your conspiracy piece of this — most states allow the manufacturer to choose the date.
[00:19:48] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:19:48] David C. Smalley: Now, what could go wrong there? Of course, the manufacturer wants you to throw food out early because you have to replace it.
[00:19:55] Jordan Harbinger: Right. So they probably do this balance where they're like, "Well, we don't want it to expire so fast that people stop buying it because they can't use it in time. But we don't want people to keep this around for three months when we can have them keep it around for like one month and then go buy more, when it's half empty."
[00:20:07] David C. Smalley: And when it gets back to milk, it's down to weeks.
[00:20:10] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:20:10] David C. Smalley: They cut the time in half. So here's one big example in Montana. There's a state law that milk can not be sold or donated. Donated is another big piece of this because a lot of people want to give out the food they can't sell. If it's got a sell by date, they want to be able to at least give it to shelters in the area. Montana has put a strict law in places as you cannot donate or sell. If it's been 12 days since the pasteurization date, but like I said, the science says it's good for 21 to 22 days. So tons of gallons of milk get thrown away when it could easily be donated to these shelters. That had been a while, so I went back and dug that up. I can't find any evidence of them changing that law anytime soon.
[00:20:48] Jordan Harbinger: It's that milk mafia influence, man.
[00:20:51] David C. Smalley: Definitely you got some Capone going on. Congress tried to address this in the '70s, but shockingly, for some reason it failed.
[00:20:59] Jordan Harbinger: Huh.
[00:20:59] David C. Smalley: You know, anytime something gets brought up about it, it gets pushed aside. Any guesses as to why Congress wouldn't immediately jump on this and fix this problem?
[00:21:06] Jordan Harbinger: It seems like there's a lot of money — if it's two percent of our GDP that we're wasting, then it's a hell of a lot more than that we're not wasting, so I'm guessing money.
[00:21:13] David C. Smalley: Absolutely. And almost anytime we're wondering why there's some kind of fishy science going on with something, it's almost always money. Food companies spend about $16 to $18 million a year on getting their favorite candidates elected through lobbying. And then in turn, those politicians refuse to put regulations on those companies or industries. And obviously, making people throw food away before they have to, it means they have to go buy more than they would have. And if we only bought the food we ate, if you think about it, food companies would lose billions. It would be like 40 percent of their profits almost, assuming the expiration dates of the primary reason people throw food out. They would lose billions. So they keep the politicians in place who refuse to restrict them. But I think it's also important to kind of insert into this conversation, what that would actually do to labor costs?
[00:22:03] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:22:04] David C. Smalley: And how that would affect unemployment if companies suddenly lost 40 percent of their profits? they would probably lay a bunch of people off.
[00:22:10] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:22:10] David C. Smalley: It would have a spike in unemployment and there are billions of dollars wasted, but there is somebody getting paid an hourly rate to make the food that they're going to go buy and throw away, right?
[00:22:21] Jordan Harbinger: Sure. Okay.
[00:22:22] David C. Smalley: It could have a negative effect on it. If we did, quote-unquote, "the right thing." I'm curious as to your thoughts on that.
[00:22:27] Jordan Harbinger: Well, I don't think we should have elevator operators because those people need jobs too. They do need jobs too, but they shouldn't be operating an elevator when I can push the button myself. So I'm not one of those people who's like, "Hey, we need to keep these jobs around because otherwise, what are these people going to do?" The answer is retraining. We don't invest in that nearly as much as we should as a country. But that's really the answer. We can't have people whose job it is to do all kinds of things that technology can do, just because those people need to be employed. That doesn't make any sense.
[00:22:57] David C. Smalley: I 100-percent agree. And more often than not—
[00:22:59] Jordan Harbinger: Communist countries do that. You ever been to Russia or something like that, where there's like a woman at the top of an escalator and a woman at the bottom, and they're in the little booth and that's their job. That job doesn't need to exist. It only exists because a communist country needed to employ everyone. So they made up a whole bunch of stuff that doesn't need to get done at all. And they put people in those positions so they could justify paying those people to exist.
[00:23:21] David C. Smalley: I absolutely agree. I don't think they should. And if we think about it, a lot of these companies have billions of dollars in profits anyway. So if they were fair about it, which I know that's a pipe dream asking corporations to be fair. But they were fair about it, they would most likely just take a cut out of their profit and keep people employed. But I don't think they would operate that way. But I'm a hundred percent with you, if it's food waste, if it's water waste, we need to cut down. And if we don't need that many people working in the food industry, because we're buying 40 percent less food, then let's retrain, let's get them other jobs that are more beneficial for the overall economy.
[00:23:52] Jordan Harbinger: I don't even know if it's a matter of fairness. I mean, look, the free market sort of decides — well, this is where you and I may be different — but the free market decides all the time what's necessary and what's not. If somebody can bag 80 turkeys a day and now they're bagging 60 turkeys a day, they're still doing a full-day's work, most .Likely maybe they leave an hour early or they spend more time loading a bag machine, or they take a longer break. But like, you can't just get rid of those people.
[00:24:15] David C. Smalley: But it wouldn't be 80 to 60. It would be 80 to like 48 or 50, or it would go from a hundred a day to 60.
[00:24:23] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, maybe you do need less people to do that, right? Then again, a machine might bag turkeys. So it's kind of hard to say, it's like we have to let the economy and the market get rid of people that are not doing anything. The answer is not to keep them employed. It's to make sure that they don't die of starvation in other ways. But now we're getting into a philosophical argument that we probably don't need to get down when we're talking about spoiled milk over here.
[00:24:43] David C. Smalley: That's more for my podcast. You want to come on and we can have that philosophical debate.
[00:24:46] Jordan Harbinger: It's for your bleeding heart liberal podcast.
[00:24:48] David C. Smalley: I would have an issue with people bagging turkeys to begin with as a vegan. So we could fight about that.
[00:24:52] Jordan Harbinger: There you go. Yeah, we can go back to first principles. How dare you bag a turkey? But where did this all start? I mean, who came up with the idea and was like, "All right, I got it. We're going to make people throw away food?" Or was it like, "Man, all of these morons without working noses, keep eating spoiled stuff and dying in the streets," you know, where did this come from?
[00:25:11] David C. Smalley: Yeah, it's funny that you mentioned milk mafia a moment ago. Because there's a fun story behind where the expiration dates came from and it's got a touch of legend in it, but it's one of these legends that could be true. And as other resident fact-checker, I spent hours trying to figure out if this story was true or not. And I can't really find it to be conclusive either way, but the story goes that Al Capone had a relative get sick from drinking spoiled milk. When his family was involved with the dairy industry, so he started pushing for expiration dates. And then of course, while it never took on the federal level word got out and states started doing it themselves. Now—
[00:25:50] Jordan Harbinger: I refuse to believe Al Capone came up with expiration dates, but continue.
[00:25:53] David C. Smalley: I mean, listen, that's, what's reported on multiple websites, including the Smithsonian
[00:25:58] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:25:58] David C. Smalley: But they all acknowledge that this is the best story we have and it's not independently verified but nobody else has an independent story as to how we came up with expiration dates.
[00:26:09] Jordan Harbinger: All right.
[00:26:10] David C. Smalley: Right now, it's like everyone's best guess and it's kind of fun to spread around. So that's the best guests they have. And Al Capone was involved in the milk industry, with the dairy industry at the time expiration dates started.
[00:26:20] Jordan Harbinger: Okay. So this is crooked from the jump. That's what it sounds like.
[00:26:25] David C. Smalley: Right. And that's probably why there's no federal standardization on this is that it was just a grassroots thing. And we just haven't put any pen to paper on it.
[00:26:32] Jordan Harbinger: We talked a little bit about how we can tell if a food is already bad, you know, the smell. Maybe the first bite is not so good and you spit it out, but what about things like we hear all the time, like there's preservatives in there. Isn't that supposed to make the food last longer already?
[00:26:45] David C. Smalley: Exactly. And that's why for the most part, and as we've already done our legal disclaimers, so I'm going to speak freely here. More than likely the food after the date is just going to taste a little weird. It's going to lose some of its flavor. It's kind of like you hear with medications, right? And I could do a whole other show if you want on the expiration dates on medication. Most people think that if you take the medication after the date, you die.
[00:27:06] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I thought that I looked it up.
[00:27:08] David C. Smalley: When in fact, yeah, mostly, it's just less effective.
[00:27:11] Jordan Harbinger: Right, yeah.
[00:27:11] David C. Smalley: Probably not going to hurt you.
[00:27:13] Jordan Harbinger: I looked it up. I won't get into details as to why, but I had some old Imodium or something like that or antibiotics in a night kit and I really needed to take it, but I was like, it's a year old. And then I was furiously googling and it was like, eh, it might just not work that well. And I was like that, "Then, I'm taking four instead of two."
[00:27:29] David C. Smalley: Yeah.
[00:27:30] Jordan Harbinger: And here we live to tell the tale.
[00:27:32] David C. Smalley: Yeah. Yeah. So that's kind of the same thing with. And by the way you mentioned kids, kids can usually withstand a little bit more than adults, I think, when it comes to that kind of stuff. Their bodies are so healthy. They bounce back there really quick. I don't know about babies necessarily, but for sure, seven, eight-year-old—
[00:27:46] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Got that expired food, shovel it down your kid's throat. They won't even know. They'll be fine.
[00:27:51] David C. Smalley: Listen, they eat dirt and fall down for a living, like that's their job. They're going to be fine. But for the most part food, it might look a little weird. It might be a little discolored. Don't eat mold, don't eat, you know, things that are obviously making you gag but, you know, chances are it's going to be fine. And the reason it's going to be is because of all of the crap and preservatives and chemicals that we allow to be pumped in the food. And this is the part of this conversation where most people are like uncomfortable to go, right?
[00:28:19] So there's tons of stuff in our food, especially in America. That's already killing us well before the expiration date. So I can't lie to you today and say something like, "Red meat is safe after the sell by date. It's going to be fine." Because in 2015, the World Health Organization classified processed red meat as a group one carcinogen. That's the same group that includes tobacco and asbestos.
[00:28:44] Jordan Harbinger: Really? I'm screwed.
[00:28:45] David C. Smalley: Yeah. So it's more accurate for me to say something like if you eat red meat after the printed date, it's not likely to make you immediately sick, but it will still give you the same amount of cancer it was planning on giving you the day you bought it.
[00:28:58] Jordan Harbinger: Great.
[00:28:58] David C. Smalley: We have tons of chemicals in this country that are banned. And I think that's for an entire other episode of this podcast, but things like, you know, the yellow and the blue five and yellow six, and you know, all these colored things that make our food vibrant and bright. They're so toxic that they're banned in the EU. And so we are just eating cancer sticks, left and right, processed and pumped full of all these dangerous chemicals. And then we're going, "Wait, what's the date on these tacos?"
[00:29:25] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:29:25] David C. Smalley: It's made of neon and it makes your face glow. Why aren't you worried about it being a day or two after the expiration date? If you're going to eat the poison, eat the poison.
[00:29:33] Jordan Harbinger: These asbestos tacos might be a little over their expiration date, but damn are they yummy. Oh my god.
[00:29:41] David C. Smalley: So I don't want to just bitch, right? I want to also offer some solutions and some takeaways for people that. Fundamentally, we just need federal standardized expiration dates that are scientifically based because all these states mostly let politicians and the corporations kind of lobby as to when to do it. And that's definitely the wrong way to do it. It makes a lot of people out of money, but it's not very good for us as a whole because we're throwing away tons of food. We need the federal regulations on it.
[00:30:06] And until we get those, it's important to note that expiration dates are completely different from leaving food out at room temperature. So bacteria can start a form on your food at around the two-hour mark. So you order pizza for a meeting and you flip it open and everybody starts eating. Once that pizza cools down, there's a timer going. And once it gets to around two hours, you're supposed to throw that out. So you're talking live bacteria, oxidized, exposed to the air. It's not good to have food sitting out on your stove for six or seven hours, and then come take a bite before you go to bed. That is very much more likely to make you sick than eating something after its expiration date.
[00:30:45] What I want people to do is visit Food Keeper, which is fmi.org. That's what you need to keep in your back pocket. It's the Food Marketing Institute, and that's a great place for real information on the shelf life of non-meat food items, or you could always call the Food and Drug Administration toll free. It's 888-723-3366 if you have any questions about food safety, but—
[00:31:08] Jordan Harbinger: They must love hearing from people that aren't just screaming at them about the COVID vaccine. So if you call and ask a question about food safety, they're probably like, "Oh, thank God. Let me tell you everything I know about food safety."
[00:31:19] David C. Smalley: Yeah. Please let's talk about that instead.
[00:31:21] Jordan Harbinger: How much time do you have?
[00:31:22] David C. Smalley: Or accusing them of fake numbers and COVID and yeah, I bet they get all kinds of stuff. They're probably going to welcome your conversation. Regardless, folks please stay skeptical of expiration dates.
[00:31:33] Jordan Harbinger: Well, I'm going to go have a three-week-old chicken sandwich and wash it down with some nice hot, expired milk.
[00:31:38] David C. Smalley: Good luck.
[00:31:40] Jordan Harbinger: See you in the hospital.
[00:31:43] If you're looking for another episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show to sink your teeth into here's a trailer with Molly Bloom who ran infamous underground poker games in Los Angeles and New York that were attended by A-listers, mobsters, and eventually landed her in hot water with the FBI. If you've seen the movie Molly's Game, you'll know she was a master of psychology and used a lot of the tactics and techniques that she taught us here on the show.
[00:32:05] Molly Bloom: I went to LA and needed to get the first job that I could and got hired by this guy who was a pretty demanding boss. I was his personal assistant. He said, "I need you to serve drinks at my poker game." So I'm like, "Okay, great." And I bring my playlist and my cheese plate, and I'm thinking, you know, the players are going to be these overgrown frat boys, but then Ben Affleck walks in the room and Leo DiCaprio and a politician that was very well-recognized and heads of studios, heads of banks, and all of a sudden I had this light bulb moment that poker is my Trojan horse. I just need to control and have power over this game because it has this incredible hold over these people. Why do these guys with their access to anyone and anything come to this dingy basement to play this game?
[00:32:54] Jordan Harbinger: What is the most money you've seen someone lose in one night?
[00:32:57] Molly Bloom: A hundred million dollars.
[00:32:59] Jordan Harbinger: How did the mob get involved?
[00:33:01] Molly Bloom: Around Christmas, door opened and this guy that I'd never seen before pushed his way in stuck a gun in my mouth, then he'd beat the hell out of me. And he kind of gave me this speech about how, if I told anyone about this, or if I didn't comply, then they would take a trip to Colorado to see my family. Then the feds got involved. And the first thing they did was they took all my money.
[00:33:21] I moved back to LA. I'd gotten a pretty decent job. 10 days later, I got a call in the middle of the night. "This is agent so-and-so from the FBI. You need to come out with your hands up." I walked into my hallway, when my eyes adjusted to the high-beam flashlights, I saw 17 FBI agents, semi-automatic weapons pointed at me.
[00:33:41] Jordan Harbinger: If you want to learn more about building rapport and generating the type of trust that Molly Bloom needed to run her multi-million-dollar operation and hear about how it all came to an end check out episode 120 of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:33:55] That does it for the first episode of Skeptical Sunday. I would love to hear what you think about this. This probably isn't something we're going to do every single week, but I'd like to know if you think it's worth doing at all. Of course, topic suggestions for future episodes of Skeptical Sunday are always welcome. Email me, email@example.com. Let me know what you think about Skeptical Sunday and what you'd like to hear on the show as well.
[00:34:18] A link to the show notes for the episode can be found at jordanharbinger.com. Transcripts in the show notes. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on Twitter and Instagram, or connect with me on linked. You can find David Smalley at @davidcsmalley on all social media platforms, at davidcsmalley.com, or better yet on his podcast, The David C. Smalley Show. Links to all that in the show notes as well.
[00:34:39] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Ian Baird, Millie Ocampo, Josh Ballard, and Gabriel Mizrahi. Our advice and opinions are our own, and I'm a lawyer, but I'm not your lawyer. Do your own research before implementing anything you hear on the show. You might want to check the expiration date on the advice if you know what I'm saying. Remember, we rise by lifting others. So share the show with those you love. And if you found this episode useful, you know somebody who throws away a bunch of perfectly good food, maybe you share this episode with them. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
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