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March 16, 2006 10:45 AM   Subscribe

Does milk go bad faster in New York City?

On my quart of milk, it says:


Why is the date for New York City always a few days earlier?
posted by Armitage Shanks to Food & Drink (11 answers total)
I would venture to guess that since the upstate dairies are further away from the city than other areas they serve, it takes the milk a day or two longer to get there.
posted by nyterrant at 10:49 AM on March 16, 2006

What difference does it matter how long it takes milk to get someplace? It should still expire on the same day, yes?
posted by RustyBrooks at 10:51 AM on March 16, 2006

I wonder if it's a distribution thing? Maybe it has to hit the NYC distribution center by that point, or there's no sense shipping it into the city. I've heard horror stories from truckers about how hard it is to get goods in and out of the city.
posted by cosmicbandito at 10:54 AM on March 16, 2006

Best answer: A NYT article from 1982 explains how NYC is
the only place in the state and one of relatively few in the country that has its own dating system for fluid milk, which may legally be sold only up to 96 hours after 6 A.M. on the day after pasteurization.
posted by neustile at 10:55 AM on March 16, 2006

As to why, same article:

Asked why the city's regulation, which until 1978 limited milk to 66 hours on sale after pasteurization, is stricter, Mr. Reisberg said, 'There are too many variables, and we have no guarantee that proper care has been taken.' He emphasized that temperature was as important a factor as time. He was alluding primarily to periods when the milk may not be properly refrigerated, when, say, a store is tranferring it from a delivery truck to the display cases and may leave it on the sidewalk or in the aisles. Also, consumers may have groceries delivered, and orders can sit waiting in the store or on a truck for several hours.
posted by neustile at 10:56 AM on March 16, 2006

Yeah, you're right, RustyBrooks. My bad.
posted by nyterrant at 10:59 AM on March 16, 2006

Best answer: According to this page, "The Times City Section's Q&A column once covered this. Their answer:
According to John Gadd, a spokesman for the city's Department of Health, milk shipped to New York is more likely to stand unrefrigerated for brief periods, both before it reaches store shelves and also on the way from store to home. "It's one of those uniquely New York sorts of things," he said. "In other parts of the country, the expiration date is often 11 or 12 days after the date of pasteurization, but our experience and research have shown that here, 9 days is a reasonable threshold."

Others disagree. Henry Beyer, a spokesman for New York State Dairy Foods, a trade group of milk wholesalers, said that refrigeration and processing practices have improved markedly since the nine-day expiration date was introduced "in the days of ice trucks," and that it was more or less ignored until the Department of Health began a recent crackdown. "
posted by nevers at 11:06 AM on March 16, 2006

It may have something to do with those big pallets of milk I see sitting on the sidewalk outside Food Emporium for hours on end.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:21 AM on March 16, 2006

Everything seems to go bad faster here. Produce too. I've always assumed it was the difficulty in transporting it and the standing unrefrigerated thing.
posted by CunningLinguist at 2:30 PM on March 16, 2006

People, too, CL. Of course, I was born here.
posted by The Bellman at 2:38 PM on March 16, 2006

Thing is, that kind of practice happens everywhere. The cream from my local store (in Maine) goes bad after a week, tops. The same brand of cream, with the same expiration date bought a different store a mile further down the road takes two weeks. Why? Probably because the first place leaves their perishable shit out in the aisles, unrefridgerated, when they're putting away their daily shipment. It's maddening. I wish every place took up New York's idea.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:10 PM on March 16, 2006

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