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Crab Gone Bad?
March 11, 2004 10:11 AM   Subscribe

Calling all microbiologists & bacteria enthusiasts: left out two cans of Phillips backfin crab meat last night, which are supposed to stay refrigerated. It is pasteurized meat, but when we called the 800 number to ask their opinion, they said if the cans get to room temperature for several hours, you probably shouldn't use it. But hey, this is expensive crab meat. I'm thinking that if it is well-cooked, tonight, I will live to tell the tale. Opinions?

Additional info: cans were left in my bag from about 6:00 pm to 9:00 am this morning. It's warm in Berkeley right now, so temperature in the room was on average somewhere around 70 degrees for the night.
posted by _sirmissalot_ to Food & Drink (113 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Don't eat it.
posted by iconomy at 10:19 AM on March 11, 2004


Yeah, you'll probably live. Or maybe not. Or maybe you'll just get sick enough to wish you were dead.

It sounds to me like your waiting for someone to give you permission to possibly poison yourself. I'm not going to do that but I'll gladly give you the answer you don't want: throw it out and go buy some more -- heck, it's only $50 dollars a pound.
posted by cedar at 10:19 AM on March 11, 2004


Well, I'm not asking permission so much as just wanting a second opinion & maybe some more information about this kind of thing. Right now I'm not sure if the 1-800 lady was just doing standing CYA, or if I've really truly transformed that beautiful crab meat into toxic poison. It seems to me one of those damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't deals. I'm a moron, it's true. Mrs. sirmissalot is not happy.

I guess I feel like if it's pasteurized, then doesn't that sterilize the stuff? But I'm no scientist, it's true.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 10:29 AM on March 11, 2004


Canned crab - cans opened or not?
posted by theora55 at 10:34 AM on March 11, 2004


Although it is unlikely you would die from this meat, you could very will get quite sick, especially if you have other health issues. The problem is that many bacteria produce their symptoms via toxins that (unlike the bacteria themselves) are not destroyed by cooking. Also, to completely sterilize the crabmeat you would have to massively overcook it. If you are unsure what to do, look at the various types of food poisoning here and decide for yourself if it is worth the risk. And it is not like you left the meat out for a few minutes longer than suggested; 9 hours can be a long time for bacteria with an exponential growth curve.
posted by TedW at 10:35 AM on March 11, 2004 [2 favorites]


Wait, if it's in a can, why does it need to be refridgerated?
posted by mkultra at 10:38 AM on March 11, 2004


Unopened cans.

Thanks for the link, TedW. Maybe I am being too cavalier about this. At some level I thought it was like raw eggs -- some people (usually American) say never eat them, others make hollandaise . . .
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 10:42 AM on March 11, 2004


I see that Phillips will ship you crab meat by second-day air. I'd be interested to know how they pack it for shipping.

I mean, if it's not refrigerated in shipment for two days, it should be OK on your counter for one, right?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:46 AM on March 11, 2004


If the people who SELL the product don't think you should eat it, then that would be all the opinion I would need. Especially since now if you do eat it--and get sick--who are you gonna sue? ;)

Why am I reminded of that episode of The Simpsons where Homer eats the 6' foot sub even after it has turned green? ;)
posted by terrapin at 10:55 AM on March 11, 2004


I'm also curious about why canned food would have to be refrigerated.

I wouldn't eat it if it was supposed to be kept cold and wasn't - aside from the fact that I don't eat seabugs shellfish, one bout of serious food poisoning will make you wish you'd never even considered it, and may make you never want to eat crab again. You're weighing your health and future enjoyment of something you clearly enjoy against a wish to eat something that may make you seriously ill because of how much money you spent on it. I say, toss them out and consider it an expensive lesson learned.
posted by biscotti at 10:58 AM on March 11, 2004


Having recently gotten food poisoning, I'd advise you not to eat it. Bodies aren't supposed to leak like that and vomiting out ones nose is not a pleasant experience. Trust me.
posted by dobbs at 11:00 AM on March 11, 2004


Look at it this way: The money's gone, forever. Right now, though, you're not three hours into a sweating, excruciating session on your knees in front of your toilet, cramping, heaving, and shivering from fever. That you are not is a gift. Accept it with thanks, toss the crabmeat, and move on.

If we each were to take away from this website one guidepost for living, you could do a lot worse than "Never eat questionable seafood."

crash -- why are you assuming it's unrefrigerated in shipment?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:00 AM on March 11, 2004 [1 favorite]


Unopened pasteurised cans?

My vote -- AND I AM NOT QUALIFIED IN ANY WAY TO PROVIDE ADVICE -- is to open them, give 'em a big ol' sniff, and make a decision based on the odour.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:00 AM on March 11, 2004


crash: shipping things like seafood and, more to my experience, cheesecakes, often involves refrigerated trucks or chunks of dry ice.
posted by whatzit at 11:04 AM on March 11, 2004


If _sirmissalot_ gets sick from eating the canned crab meat, I vote five fresh fish changes their moniker ;)
posted by terrapin at 11:04 AM on March 11, 2004


I should mention that I've had salmonella and barely lived to tell the tale. It was the single most excruitingly painful experience ever, and I wouldn't wish it on the most evil person on earth. I literally wished to die, and would have gladly slit my wrists were I able to get off the toilet.

Throwing away fifty cans of crabmeat every day for life would be well worth it, just to avoid a single bout of salmonella. I would likely choose to lose entire limbs than ever suffer that experience again. No word of a lie, if I knew I would get salmonella from doing something, I'd kill myself first.

It was really that bad.

(It didn't help that I mistakenly ate a ton of yogurt, thinking the good bacteria would displace the bad. Instead, the milk stuck to my gut lining, then peeled it off in long strips. Terrible pain and blood and pain.)
posted by five fresh fish at 11:05 AM on March 11, 2004


i'd eat it. but i don't like crab and am in a country where saying such things is not something i can be taken to court for.

maybe you could feed a bit to the neighbour's dog first?
posted by andrew cooke at 11:08 AM on March 11, 2004


DON'T EAT IT.

I spent eight days in a hospital with food poisoning once and that was as a otherwise healthy nineteen-year-old.

Trust me, buying two more cans of crabmeat is much cheaper.
posted by konolia at 11:08 AM on March 11, 2004


IANAD, but if it's canned, and unopened, I wouldn't worry about it.

When you bought it, was it refrigerated or was it just on the shelf? What does it say on the side of the can? Does it actually say "keep refrigerated"?

Alternatively, you could open one of them, feed some to a squirrel or something, and see if it keels over.
posted by bshort at 11:10 AM on March 11, 2004


I'd say don't eat them, just because they told you not to, but I am not familiar with canned foods that require refrigeration, so I don't really know the process they used at the factory; which leads me to trust them more.

There are bacteria that can grow in a sealed can though, like Clostridium botulinum, which causes botulism, which is horrible. But that rarely happens with industrial canning anymore. So, do what you want, but I wouldn't eat it. Sorry.

on preview: don't feed it to a dog, andrew is going to hell.
posted by rhyax at 11:12 AM on March 11, 2004


"crash -- why are you assuming it's unrefrigerated in shipment?"

I wasn't assuming anything, that's why I said "I'd be interested to know how they pack it for shipping."

Having neither the desire nor the cash to order seafood to be shipped to me, I've never seen how it would be packaged.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:12 AM on March 11, 2004


...I vote five fresh fish changes their moniker...

To, say, Two Gushing Orifices?

sirmissalot, go look at tubgirl. really. Take a good, long look at the horror. And ask yourself, "Do I want that to be me for half a day, and with no mask?"

Throw it away and get on with your life.
And eating arthropods is just wrong. The only difference between a crab and a cockroach is gills and size.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:14 AM on March 11, 2004


Let's face it, you couldn't really enjoy that crab after all this, could you? Just the mention of tubthing, and I lost all appetite. Hmm, new diet plan? Nahhh.
posted by theora55 at 11:18 AM on March 11, 2004


People, c'mon, I'm not going to sue anyone. Even if I die.

Can you imagine that lawsuit? "I got bad advice from some anonymous dude on a general discussion website, and so I ate the stinky crabmeat anyway." That wouldn't even hold up in The People's Court.

There is a flash of genius in Andrew Cooke's advice. But I think I would feel worse if I poisoned an unsuspecting pet than if I did it to myself.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 11:21 AM on March 11, 2004


Speaking from being a cafateria supervisor, once meat is between around 140F and 40F (we call it the "danger zone", there is quite a large risk for bacteria to start growing. If food is left out in danger zone for more than four hours, it most likely is infected with bacteria. Alas, I don't know the effects of heating it up enough. Then again you have water when camping...sure, the water may be contaminated when you get it out of a stream or something, but boil it (or use iodine if I have any) and you're good to go. Dunno if food works the same way, I should ask at work.

ROU-> thats why I also eat cockroaches...cover them in chocolate and it taste like chocolate covered raisins. Cooking the bastards is optional.
posted by jmd82 at 11:24 AM on March 11, 2004


Smell it, if it stinks don't eat it. Or...return it back to the store after you have refrigerated it.

Phillips food site:
The result: virtually shell-free, sweet crab meat that has a shelf life of one year under proper refrigeration.

Well if its shelf life is long, think the meat would be ok if it had not been opened and was not subjected to high heats. Would not save it on the shelf for much longer.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:40 AM on March 11, 2004


If there's even a chance the stuff isn't good, don't eat it. I will join the chorus of those who've been hospitalized with food poisoning and now I can't eat any meat that hasn't been nearly incinerated without getting queasy. Begging a nurse for some food because hurling is preferable to endless dry-heaving is no position you ever want to be in.

Do we need to set up a paypal account for _sirmissalot_'s crab replacement fund?
posted by vraxoin at 11:42 AM on March 11, 2004


return it back to the store after you have refrigerated it

now that's cheap. does he get to go to hell too?
posted by andrew cooke at 11:46 AM on March 11, 2004


Go ahead, eat it. You'll be fine. What are you, chicken? bock bock bock! Little baby afraid of a little bacteria? CHICKEN! C'maaaan! I double DOG DARE YA to eat it!



*disclaimer: I am not a nutritional anthropologist or, for that matter, anybody who knows anything at all about anything. Listen to my advice(?) at your own risk.
posted by bondcliff at 12:22 PM on March 11, 2004


Yes, yes may I chime in? I got food poisoning from crab. I used to love crab and lobster and all of God's wonderful sea creatures. Then I got food poisoning (by very expensive crab meat and a very expensive meal). Now everytime I eat seafood at all (except shrimp) I get this heaving allergic reaction. Apparently allergies can be aquired like this according to my doctor. So now I have a mini-food poisoning episode if I have anything near seafood. The sucks.

Oh and if you get food poisoning and think that your friend with special tobacco could come over and help you not throw up, because you're thinking anything is preferable to this. Don't. You throw up from just inhaling. Then you stop throwing up for about 2 hours (an amazing length of time) but you feel as if something is boaring through your stomach. And your imagine your insides as a big hole. But at least you get some sleep.
posted by geoff. at 12:26 PM on March 11, 2004


They have canned crab meat at the local grocers here sitting next to the tuna. And I'd guess it sits at room temp for more than a year.

BUT - Just because this stuff comes in a can doesn't mean it's processed the same way canned tuna is. They may heat it only enough to cook it, but not enough to kill "bad things".

But - Doing it that way would actively promote botchulism even if you did refrigerate it.

I'm dubious aboutthe need to refridgerate. I think they just want think their crab is special somehow.
posted by y6y6y6 at 12:28 PM on March 11, 2004


In other words, I think you should eat it.
posted by y6y6y6 at 12:29 PM on March 11, 2004


Eat it.

I leave food sitting out all the time, drink milk that's gone beyond the date on the cap, eat pizza that sat in a box on the floor all night, devour two-day-old hamburgers from cookouts, etc.

Strangely, the only time I've contracted food poisoning is from a catered reception.

I also do a lot of canning at home, and my guess is if this crab was canned, you'll be fine - provided the can wasn't opened.
posted by rocketman at 12:35 PM on March 11, 2004


If there's botulism in the can, it would be there whether you refrigerated the can or not. Botulism's like that, and it'll kill you if you ingest it. The question is not your storage procedures, but the factory's canning procedures.
posted by rocketman at 12:38 PM on March 11, 2004


Dude, nothing is worth the risk. No way would I eat that.
posted by agregoli at 12:42 PM on March 11, 2004


Sirmissalot: eat the crab, already! This is Captain Shellfish himself of the fishy heaven of Portugal laying on the line his reputation and your life, which is dear to me but not as much as my cred, advising you to scoff the two tins without a second thought.

How can bacteria get into a can from without? The possibility is that Philips aren't following proper sterilization procedures for their canned crab as sterilization (and freezing!) are killers as far as flavour and texture are concerned.

Next time, buy live crabs - far, far better - and you'll not only enjoy eating something worth the money and effort, you'll also have two great pets and conversation-pieces scuttling about your kitchen floor until you tire of their toing-and-froing and decide "Right, that's enough scuttling - I'll be having you both forthwith!"
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:55 PM on March 11, 2004 [6 favorites]


If there's botulism in the can, it would be there whether you refrigerated the can or not. Botulism's like that, and it'll kill you if you ingest it.

But damn, you'll be the most beautiful, wrinkle-free attendee at your funeral. The viewing will be a delight for all!

On the other hand, I will have to add my "don't eat it" vote. Not only are you putting yourself at risk, but also everyone who may partake of TEH CRAB. We all know what happened with the salmon mousse, right?
posted by Danelope at 1:09 PM on March 11, 2004


That said, enough bickering over the inevitable. May we have a moment of silence for sirmissalot's spoilt crab?

.
posted by Danelope at 1:11 PM on March 11, 2004


I <3 Miguel! (and crabs).
posted by monju_bosatsu at 1:11 PM on March 11, 2004


Miguel, I appreciate your position and cannot help but consider the advice of anyone willing to call himself Captain Shellfish. But the entire reason I get the Phillips is because it is delicious BLUE crab, which I find incredibly more delicious--yes, even canned, though of course I prefer live--than the easily-obtainable-as-live but grotesquely huge DUNGENESS crab that habitates the Western coast of the US (i.e. where I find myself). I know there are people that like Dungeness better, but they just don't know no better (and didn't eat their bodyweight in beautiful blue-crab crabcakes & bushels of Old Bay-seasoned steamed crabs in Baltimore over several fondly remembered years).
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 1:14 PM on March 11, 2004 [1 favorite]


Fivefreshfish, it was also salmonella that gave me that hospital "vacation."

If you enjoy your entrails feeling like they are being stabbed repeatedly with very big knives, eat the crab.

If you enjoy pooping blood (and a lot of it) from ulcerated intestines, eat the crab.

If you enjoy getting an endoscopy done while in severe pain, eat the crab.

If you enjoy not even being allowed to eat ice chips, THEN told you have to drink a small container of castor oil, eat the crab.

If you enjoy running fevers over 103 degrees Farendheit, and having the headache from hell because of it,and not being allowed any asprin or ibuprofin, eat the crab.

Have I ruined your appetite yet?
posted by konolia at 1:21 PM on March 11, 2004


konolia, you know that it's not guaranteed that he'll be poisoned right?

you know that some people are hurt in car crashes - maimed and killed even. do you still use a car?
posted by andrew cooke at 1:26 PM on March 11, 2004


All right, I'll go with the minority here, and say eat it. If the can is a) pasteurized, b) unopened, and c) undamaged (not dented or anything like that) it's quite safe.

Yes, it's been in the "danger zone" where bacteria could grow rapidly--if there were any way for bacteria to get in there in the first place.

The only real question here is whether it is, in fact, pasteurized--although that doesn't seem to have been definitively answered, Phillips' claim that the crab has a shelf life of a year under refrigeration indicates to me that it is. (If it weren't pasteurized, it wouldn't last more than a week or two even if it were carefully refrigerated at all times.)

My qualifications? An A in an upper-level microbiology course at a major university. (Admittedly, several years ago.) Not a microbiologist by trade, though.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:33 PM on March 11, 2004


C'maaan. I triple dog are ya!
posted by bondcliff at 1:34 PM on March 11, 2004


Update: We just got a call back from the Phillips people (Mrs. left a message before connecting to someone live), who started the call by saying, "Please don't eat that."

Hmmmmm.

Hmmm.

All this is making me damn crab-hungry, I'm ashamed to say.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 1:37 PM on March 11, 2004


Besides being evil beyond belief, testing on animals will not necessarily work. Animals are able to eat all kinds of wretched rotten stuff. My advice is not to eat it, although I was known to eat far dicier fare in my youth.
posted by anathema at 1:40 PM on March 11, 2004


bondcliff, you're cracking me up.

And i love that "DevilsAdvocate" is saying to go for it.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 1:40 PM on March 11, 2004


PhillipsBluecrab

They should send you a couple free cans for all this publicity.
posted by anathema at 1:46 PM on March 11, 2004


What's that saying?

With salmonella, you feel like you're going to die — but don't... with botulism you feel like you're going to live — but don't.

Anyway, I'm going to go with the minority and say that it's a pretty safe bet (but a bet all the same) to consume... but by all means, listen to your nose and the little voice in your head.

... then tell us what you decided to do.
posted by silusGROK at 1:55 PM on March 11, 2004


The only real question here is whether it is, in fact, pasteurized--although that doesn't seem to have been definitively answered,

Oops, _sirmissalot_ stated right up front it is pasteurized. My bad. All the more reason to eat it.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:06 PM on March 11, 2004


(maybe you could make posting here one of the things the executor of your will has to do?)

i'm confused by the refrigeration part. are they pulling a sunny delight?
posted by andrew cooke at 2:07 PM on March 11, 2004


Botulism has no odor. Don't listen to your nose -- listen to the wise MeFites who don't want you to die!
posted by acridrabbit at 2:10 PM on March 11, 2004 [1 favorite]


We just got a call back from the Phillips people (Mrs. left a message before connecting to someone live), who started the call by saying, "Please don't eat that."

Well, as long as they're being polite about it and everything.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:18 PM on March 11, 2004


Just let us know the verdict, please.
posted by agregoli at 2:37 PM on March 11, 2004


It's true that botulism has no odor, but the only way the can will have it is if Phillips canned it incorrectly. Unless you are doing home canning, it's pointless to worry about botulism - if it's in the can, it's nothing you can detect, and you'll ingest it and you'll be dead in about twenty minutes.

If you are canning at home, it's important to follow the USDA canning guidelines to prevent botulism.
posted by rocketman at 2:43 PM on March 11, 2004


Eat it.

Or, eat a little bit. Wait half an hour. If you don't feel like you're going to die, then eat the rest.

It'll be great.
posted by bshort at 2:47 PM on March 11, 2004


You know, after all this, I really want someone to eat it, just to find out what happens....
posted by anastasiav at 2:47 PM on March 11, 2004


Don't be wuss, just eat the damn crab! I dare you!

Seriously, I would eat it if the cans are unopened and undamaged. you would probably be at more risk buying a dented can from the supermarket. I am not any kind of expert, so you have to make your own decision in the end.

Either way, either let us know how it went or get one of your heirs to let us know. Don't forget to put your MeFi login details in your will before you open the can, though.
posted by dg at 3:01 PM on March 11, 2004


Thank you all for your advice, ridicule, dares, and pleading. After weighing all of the pros and cons, I think it's gonna come down to the wire: the sniff test.

I'll leave my PC on and my MeFi account logged in so as to let you all know when/if the cramps strike.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 3:12 PM on March 11, 2004


Could we clarify something here? By "canned", do you mean what I call "tinned" (ie in a sealed metal canister), or do you just mean packed in a glass preserving jar?

If you haven't opened the tin, I agree with the "eat it" crowd. If this was packed in some less than hermetically sealed way, I wouldn't eat it.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 3:16 PM on March 11, 2004


ooh, this is exciting. I feel more anticipation than I did waiting for results from my middle school science experiments.

Do you have a web-cam?
posted by jazzkat11 at 3:24 PM on March 11, 2004


Make sure you leave written instructions on how to post to AxMe next to your computer in case we gave you bad advice.
posted by bshort at 3:28 PM on March 11, 2004


Does the phrase "I told u I was hardcore" mean anything to you guys?
posted by Danelope at 3:56 PM on March 11, 2004 [1 favorite]


Set up a webcam first, so we can watch!

(or what Danelope said)
posted by biscotti at 4:27 PM on March 11, 2004


_sirmissalot_ is a gangster!!!

Thirty minutes and counting... Dude, post something!
posted by nicwolff at 4:27 PM on March 11, 2004


I wonder if you can kill some of that bacteria by freezing the cans for a few hours, and then overcooking? and by the way:

"return it back to the store after you have refrigerated it."
Asshole. My mom could be the next person who picks it up.
posted by Keyser Soze at 4:34 PM on March 11, 2004


I really want someone to eat it

Is Quonsar back yet?
posted by armoured-ant at 4:51 PM on March 11, 2004


I'm still left wondering why something which has been pasteurized and canned needs to be refrigerated before it is opened. Does anyone has any other examples of foods that fit that category?

I'd probably eat it, provided it didn't have a "smell" to it, but then I eat just about anything with no ill effect. I would think the process of cooking it would destroy any germs in it, but then I would also think that the process of canning it should mean that there weren't any serious germs in the can in the first place.
posted by Orb at 4:54 PM on March 11, 2004


AskMeta, where a question about canned crab meat evolves into a foodie-snuff-web cam experiment.
posted by rdr at 4:57 PM on March 11, 2004 [1 favorite]


Keyzer, food poisoning is not caused by the bacteria, but rather, by its toxic byproduct (shit). Most of these toxins don't give a rip if you bake, boil, flambe, etc--they're heading straight for colon city.

as someone who had a nasty incident with frozen chicken and a crockpot resulting in an ungodly amount of gastrointestinal suffering, I can assure you that thoroughly-cooked spoiled food will still fuck you up hardcore.

rdr, I wouldn't want it any other way
posted by LimePi at 5:26 PM on March 11, 2004


a few months ago we had this thread about the chatroom guy who wanted advice re "should I kill myself or not". some users dared him to do it, and he killed himself.

just sayin'
posted by matteo at 5:51 PM on March 11, 2004


This is not a chatroom. Stop pissing in the pool.

Love,

stav.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:09 PM on March 11, 2004


click nicwolff's link above, matteo. Also Danelope's reference.
posted by gleuschk at 6:10 PM on March 11, 2004


Don't eat it.

Instead of sniffing it, do the math:

1) How much is your time worth?
2) How much is your quality of life worth?
3) How much would a hospital visit (or stay) cost you?
4) How much would lost wages cost you?

If the total is a lot more than the amount spent on the crab meat, throw it away without a second thought.

When gambling (with your health or otherwise) you should never consider the amount you have invested (lost) until now - just weigh future risks and rewards. Even if it was the most heavenly tasting crab in existence, is it worth the risk?

P.S. I agree with Miguel - live crab is where it's at. Find a place that will ship it to you directly by air in a chilled container. Live crabs taste much better than canned ever will and can be quite entertaining when they return to room temperature. :)
posted by cup at 6:16 PM on March 11, 2004




fun illustrated scientific information with animated graphic of foul meat

in other words, EAT IT ! EAT IT EAT IT !
posted by Peter H at 6:31 PM on March 11, 2004


I love everyone who's noting how terrible food poisoning it is, without asking how likely it is in this particular case.

Q. I've heard that seeing The Return of the King can cause food poisoning. Should I go see it?

A. Food poisoning can kill you, and even if it doesn't it's very very painful!! No matter how unlikely, that's not something you want to experience! So you'd better avoid The Return of the King!!

posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:59 PM on March 11, 2004


you would probably be at more risk buying a dented can from the supermarket.

NEVER buy dented cans...its very easy for the dent to cause rust on the inside, even if you don't think there is any.
posted by jmd82 at 7:09 PM on March 11, 2004


I don't really understand how canned food needs to be refrigerated. On the other hand, re: the sniff test, it doesn't work. I may have gotten food poisoning earlier this week from pasta (!) Nothing on it except olive oil and (very recently bought) hard cheese. Didn't smell funny. Just smelled like pasta. It (fp) doesn't kill you, but it's brutal. Do you have 24 hrs to give up to being miserable?
posted by noether at 7:12 PM on March 11, 2004


I'd do the smell test, and eat it just for the thrill, but cook or nuke it to death.
(I also don't get how if it's vacuum-sealed in a can, it's rotten--unless it's rotten when sealed in. Most foods say "refrigerate after opening", no?)
posted by amberglow at 7:28 PM on March 11, 2004


Dear Concerned Friends,

It's over. Mrs. _sirmissalot_ made crab quiche.

I got cold feet. I know, I know.

I am, apparently, not a gangster.

So she politely made me a veggie burger, patted me on the head, and just ate a whole big steaming piece of beautiful crab pie. I feel foolish but will be monitoring her LIKE A HAWK. She's going for drinks with her law school buddies and we're hoping booze will take care of any weirdness that might have been left in there. Hey, how's that for scientific!

I'll post an update tomorrow for anyone who is really truly fascinated.

Best regards,

Chicken-Boy
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 7:38 PM on March 11, 2004 [1 favorite]


bwaak! bwaak! (you didn't even taste it?)
posted by amberglow at 8:21 PM on March 11, 2004


Isn't it the lawyer who's supposed to be risk averse?
posted by anathema at 8:26 PM on March 11, 2004


Wuss.
posted by dg at 8:40 PM on March 11, 2004


Wow. What a punch line to this thread.

It's like Hamlet going through the whole play and saying, you know what, Horatio? I think I'd prefer to see you kill yourself first and then I'll have a better idea about things.
posted by soyjoy at 8:59 PM on March 11, 2004 [2 favorites]


sirmissalot: I will never forgive your not believing me. If you don't believe 100% Portagee Captain Shellfish, who's life and livelihood is dedicated to the correct consumption of seafood, who will you trust?

I demand one of those gigantic Dungeness crabs by return of post. It must be alive, mind, pincers ready to tear me to shreds.

Your wife is my new hero(ine). If you could understand the subtleties of macho SouthernEuropeanSpeak you would probably challenge me to a duel. ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:11 PM on March 11, 2004 [4 favorites]


whose!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:13 PM on March 11, 2004


Damn. Halfway through this thread, I changed my vote to feeding it to wozzname's squirrels. Two birds, one stone sorta thing.

I am kind of curious as to how konolia got to the hospital. When I had salmonella, there wasn't any way to get me out of the bathroom. When I wasn't dying on the toilet, I was curled up on the floor dying beside the toilet. It would have required big burly paramedics and a lifetime supply of Depends to get me out of there.

In all this aftermath, I can say this with a fair bit of confidence: if it was in an undamaged can and said "pasteurized" on it, I'd have chowed it down. The cannery isn't going to much be into killing their customers, so I'm sure it's been properly processed; and once its sealed, it's good for eons.

Yes, botulism and salmonella and all that jive is nasty. But is it likely? In this case, I think not.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:36 PM on March 11, 2004


Pasteurized when it comes to things like crab and ham is only semi-preserved; it's processed in a way to kill infectious organisms but not sterilized, which means bacteria such as e.Coli, Salmonella, and Campylobacter can grow without proper refrigeration. (USDA Cite; Definition, Cite; Bacterial Growth.)

Um, that said, I'm crossing my fingers for your wife; just because she could get sick, doesn't guarantee it. But next time, dude, refrigerate the crab!
posted by headspace at 10:12 PM on March 11, 2004


But the entire reason I get the Phillips is because it is delicious BLUE crab, which I find incredibly more delicious--yes, even canned, though of course I prefer live--than the easily-obtainable-as-live but grotesquely huge DUNGENESS crab that habitates the Western coast of the US (i.e. where I find myself).

Insanity! Dungeness crab is one of the finest foods there is, and one of the two reasons I have not yet been able to give up seafood. (OK, three, actually. The other two being good northwest wild salmon, and just about any sashimi.) Clearly you do not have the discerning tastes of a native Westerner. ;)

I am kind of curious as to how konolia got to the hospital. When I had salmonella, there wasn't any way to get me out of the bathroom. When I wasn't dying on the toilet, I was curled up on the floor dying beside the toilet. It would have required big burly paramedics and a lifetime supply of Depends to get me out of there.

I'm not konolia, but I have had salmonella. Sometimes it's worse than other times, I guess. I was feeling severe pain but not like you were. I left work early, walked into the doctor's office and was able to walk back out without visiting the hospital. And was better after 3 or 4 days, though those days were not exactly pleasant. By the time the tests came back that said it was really salmonella, I was already better. We never did figure out the source for sure, either, though I have my ideas.

Since then I have had to spend a night in the hospital with food-poisoning symptoms that mimicked appendicitis, though. Not fun at all and nothing I really want to risk again.
posted by litlnemo at 11:04 PM on March 11, 2004


Just remember: crab is not kosher!
posted by zaelic at 1:06 AM on March 12, 2004


By the time I was hospitalized there was no food or excrement in my system. I didn't dare eat because the pain was excruciating if I even tried.
posted by konolia at 4:01 AM on March 12, 2004


(Actually what I had was paratyphoid fever which is caused by a particular salmonella germ. But it was definitely something I ate.)
posted by konolia at 4:07 AM on March 12, 2004


so, is she still ok?
posted by andrew cooke at 8:15 AM on March 12, 2004


Ha! You fed it to the wife. That's priceless.

An apartment, daytime. MRS. _SIRMISSALOT_ arrives home looking beleaguered and tired. She is lugging a tow-along containing many case files. MR. _SIRMISSALOT_, having anticipated her arrival, is wearing a smile and holding a certain quiche pie eagerly in his hands. His focus nervously shifts from the pie to Mrs. _sirmissalot_ and back. She is too tired to notice.

Mrs: (tiredly)
Hi dear.

Mr:
Hi honey. I made you dinner, my little pookie-bottums.

Mrs. looks confused as she unloads her work files.

Mrs:
Dinner? Oh, dinner. Oh how sweet of you. Such a long day, I.. that's just perfect. This is the perfect ending to such a long day. I'm starving.

Mr. holds out the fork, almost dropping it in the process. Mrs. doesn't notice. As she drops her coat and wool scarf onto the kitchen table, he shoves the quiche and fork into her hands.

Mrs:
What's in this? Looks delicious.

Mr: Oh, just a little something I picked up at the store. [beat] Seafood. Cra- It's crab.

Mrs: Oh crab! I love crab. Dear, you shouldn't have. [takes bite, mouth now full] This, this is why I married you. mmm, this really is good.

Mr: (now looking very pleased)
Oh yes. Yes, yes, yes.

Mrs: (now shoveling the quiche)
hmm? Aren't you going to have any.

Mr: (moving towards the backroom containing the computer)
Oh no, I've already had a veggie burger. I'm full - I just need to update some people.. [enters backroom]

Mrs: (absently)
Mmm, this really is good. And people told me he wasn't a winner.
posted by jazzkat11 at 8:32 AM on March 12, 2004 [2 favorites]


He didn't make dinner, she did, jazzkat11.
posted by agregoli at 8:51 AM on March 12, 2004


oop! My bad..
posted by jazzkat11 at 9:04 AM on March 12, 2004 [1 favorite]


To those who warned of hospitalization and/or imminent death: 0 points. Actually, -10 points because you totally scared me off of dinner and I ate a ridiculous veggie burger instead of enjoying my wife's legendarily fine cooking. In short, I was wussified.

To those who encouraged me to ignore the Chicken Littles and eat the damn crab: my most sincere apology. You were right! Captain Shellfish, please forgive me as you did indeed put your rep on the line which I promptly and brazenly disregarded.

Mrs. _sirmissalot_ is 1) alive, 2) feeling quite well, and 3) had leftover crab quiche for breakfast.

posted by _sirmissalot_ at 9:50 AM on March 12, 2004


No updates even at this late morning hour.

Gosh, I hope they aren't at the hospital.

Q re: semi-sterilized canning -- wouldn't bacterial growth result in a bulging can? Outgassing when punctured? Noxious smells?

I'm pretty sure that if it canned crab could kill you completely stealthily, it wouldn't be sold. There's just no payoff in having your customers kick the bucket, unless you're a casket-maker.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:50 AM on March 12, 2004


Oooh! JINX, JINX!
posted by five fresh fish at 9:51 AM on March 12, 2004


Jazzkat11: Be careful. The walls have ears. One word: Quonsar.
posted by zaelic at 10:04 AM on March 12, 2004


Educational addendum: Since I started this thread, I have actually done a lot of reading about pathogenic bacteria, and it does seem that the wife was gambling a bit. I don't know what her odds were, but she is definitely lucky.

Pathogens (as opposed to spoilage bacteria) most often do not change the taste/smell/appearance of food. Spoilage bacteria, which do make things smell bad and go slimy but don't necessarily make you ill, act as a warning flag that the really bad guys (salmonella, e.coli, etc.) might have moved in.

Headspace was correct: pasteurization does not mean sterilization. Just as pasteurized milk will go bad eventually, even if unopened, so does pasteurized crab that is refrigerated--warming it up simply accelerates the process. Tinned meat that you see on the shelves, such as tuna and the cheaper brands of crabmeat, have been sterilized and thus do not need to be refrigerated.

In short: when it comes to pasteurized meat products, you really, truly need to keep cold cans cold.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 10:06 AM on March 12, 2004


Q re: semi-sterilized canning -- wouldn't bacterial growth result in a bulging can? Outgassing when punctured? Noxious smells?

According to the USDA site, it wouldn't necessarily result in any kind of smell, taste, or change in appearance to the meat, and the bulging/outgassing takes a while to happen. Bacteria can start to grow in as little as 2 hours; bulging doesn't happen until some of the bacteria start to expire and the meat starts to decompose.

Mmmmmmm, crab quiche anyone?
posted by headspace at 10:07 AM on March 12, 2004


Amen, sirmissalot - glad you revised your smugness. It's a gamble. I'm glad she didn't get sick though.
posted by agregoli at 10:09 AM on March 12, 2004


I assume she did not share her breakfast.
posted by anathema at 10:12 AM on March 12, 2004


It took me several days before I got sick. She ain't out of the woods yet. Sorry.
posted by konolia at 11:44 AM on March 12, 2004


Konolia's right. Incubation times are as much as ten days.
posted by gleuschk at 12:51 PM on March 12, 2004


/me bookmarks this thread with a reminder to check in 1-10 days
posted by terrapin at 1:36 PM on March 12, 2004


Spoiled milk. Ugh. Is there any food smell more vile?
posted by five fresh fish at 2:10 PM on March 12, 2004


You've never smelled a rotten potato, I take it. Naassssty!
posted by konolia at 2:59 PM on March 12, 2004


Er, Matt, could we have a sidebar link to this thread so we can follow this during the incubation time (as much as ten days! the suspense!)?
posted by NekulturnY at 4:45 AM on March 13, 2004


If you're morbid and you know it, clap your hands!

If you're morbid and you know it, clap your hands!

If you're morbid and you know it,
Then your face will surely show it,

If you're morbid and you know it, clap your hands!


she's fine, people.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 8:39 AM on March 13, 2004


Is she still fine? *duck*
posted by headspace at 7:34 AM on March 17, 2004


yep.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 6:52 PM on March 17, 2004


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