Look, I know people throw around the term "gaslighting" too much, but I feel like I'm being gaslit, I don't know how else to describe it.
Like I mentioned in my guide to coffee, I started getting half-and-half to put in it. I bought a pint. I don't use that much, but it doesn't expire until the end of July, so I figured I was good for awhile.
But I noticed there's a warning on the carton that says "use within 7 days of opening but not after date on package."
What? Why? I'm opening it for a second, pouring a little bit, screwing the cap back on and putting it back in the fridge. What about this process transforms it into a substance with a shelf life of one week instead of several months?
The serving size is 2 tablespoons, and there's 16 servings per container. I use about half that amount, and I don't necessarily drink coffee every day, but let's suppose I'm using one serving per day. I'm supposed to throw out 9 servings, more than half the container, because of this cryptic warning? This is the smallest container I can buy. What's the danger of using it past the 7-day mark? It doesn't smell or taste any different. At least I don't think it does. The date on the package isn't even an expiration date, it's a "best by" date, implying that as long as it doesn't smell spoiled it might be safe to use even after that date. I'm sure it's fine.
Except now they planted the seed of doubt in my anxiety brain. Why does the warning exist? Is it a federal packaging requirement? Are they just covering their ass against lawsuits, the thinking being that the longer it's being used, the more likely it is to become contaminated? Or is it literally only there to get people to throw out good food and have to buy more? It's not just the half-and-half, I've seen it on other food too, stuff I wouldn't think is that unstable.
Like hot dogs! Hot dogs are pre-cooked, chock full of preservatives, kept refrigerated, and boiled thoroughly before being eaten. If there's some heat-resistant super bacteria that can form on hot dogs a mere 7 days after being exposed to air, then frankly1 I don't think they should be allowed to sell hot dogs. We don't want that kind of power falling into the wrong hands 🦝