Can I eat (the things) it (leaked on)
May 1, 2021 7:17 AM   Subscribe

I get a delivery box every week from one of the national produce services specializing in organic surplus products. This question is about whether I can eat the produce if one of the coolant packages opened and leaked all over the goods, which sat in the liquid for at least 4 days.

The box was in transit an extra 3 or 4 days, so the things were in there for a week. Then, I didn't unpack a lot of it for another 3 days, figuring i could leave veggies in a cool cardboard box for a few days (busy week).

None of the vegetables are packaged separately, or in plastic bags or anything, this is a sustainable service so they are simply all together in the box.

Today I see there was some stuff that really needed to be refrigerated as soon as possible when I got it, like celery that rotted in the bottom of the box, creating a runny mush, and -- what this question is about -- that the white, rectangular soft plastic coolant package opened at the seam and was spilling ice.

The ice from that is not just normal frozen water because otherwise it would be totally melted by now. It is a grainy slushy icy-looking substance, ice with something else in it? Dry ice?

The veggies are wet, both from the rotten celery and the ice. So, since the package was in transit and then sitting here, it's been possibly up to a week of yuckiness. The vegetables I want to eat are firm and look fine though.

Q: Can i wash them off and eat them? I definitely plan to do that with the thick skinned squash but what about artichokes, peppers, other permeable things? Is that "ice" going to have poisoned my lovely organic veggies?
posted by nantucket to Food & Drink (10 answers total)
Response by poster: And BEETS. Lots of beets. sigh.
posted by nantucket at 7:19 AM on May 1, 2021

Need to see the coolant bag itself. Generally, most of the "gel" used nowadays is just water and silica gel (+ additives and colorings). If so, just wash and trim should be enough. Those "gels" can cause irritation if eaten, but you need to eat pretty large amounts. Thorough washing with a brush, then peel/trim should be fine.
posted by kschang at 7:30 AM on May 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

I think you should call the company that sent you the produce, and ask for their advice.
posted by unicorn chaser at 7:52 AM on May 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I think you should call the company that sent you the produce, and ask for their advice.

I agree! I sent them an email (they don't have a phone) but they aren't open on the weekend and I wanted to use some of this stuff today.
posted by nantucket at 7:56 AM on May 1, 2021 [3 favorites]

Do you get or does their website have disposal instructions for the ice packs? Ours do, saying they are nontoxic but don't put them down the drain and that you can put the goo in the trash and recycle the plastic wrapper.

If yours say the same, I personally would be comfortable just washing off anything generally non-porous.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:14 AM on May 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

As an adult with a fairly robust constitution? Yeah, sure, I'd wash it and give it a go.

Would I feed it to my children, or anyone with gastrointestinal issues like IBS, coeliac, or Crohn's? Definitely not.
posted by underclocked at 8:39 AM on May 1, 2021

Best answer: I'd call the company and simply tell them that the ice pack was burst, and the additional moister contributed to rotting some of the produce and you aren't sure if the other produce is safe to eat and just ask for a refund. If they give it to you, buy some fresh veggies. If they don't, still I personally would not eat them. It says it's nontoxic (your food delivery service is not my dilvery service) but it's probably not best for the veggies to have hung out with it and I'd give it a hard pass.
posted by AlexiaSky at 10:10 AM on May 1, 2021 [17 favorites]

Anything that can be peeled - the squash, the beets - I'd eat. And I'd probably peel a little extra.
posted by coffeecat at 10:17 AM on May 1, 2021

Reusable ice packs typically contain water, something to lower the freezing temperature, a thickening agent, silica gel, and non-toxic blue coloring. The concerning component in reusable ice packs is the ingredient used to lower the temperature, which is usually propylene glycol. A small taste of reusable ice pack liquid typically only creates mild irritation. With large ingestions, it is possible to develop symptoms similar to alcohol intoxication such as severe drowsiness, unresponsiveness, and slowed breathing.
I'd call Poison Control, tell them it's non-emergency, ask for assistance with how to wash stuff away.
posted by theora55 at 12:12 PM on May 1, 2021 [3 favorites]

I'm all for eating food left out overnight, etc., but I would not consider eating this if I had any other realistic choice. Who really knows what's in those freeze packs or how much of it the food might have absorbed after days of exposure. It wouldn't be worth the gamble to me.
posted by DarkForest at 4:24 AM on May 2, 2021 [4 favorites]

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