Don't eat it, Ted?
October 12, 2007 6:33 PM   Subscribe

What's the deal with my salad dressing? It is frothing like a rabid dog!

At dinner tonight I opened a brand new bottle of salad dressing (Girard's Greek Feta Vinaigrette, expiration date 2/16/08) and noticed a slight hiss, as if there were a partial vacuum in the jar, perhaps from being chilled. We proceed to eat, and when I go to get seconds on the salad I notice that the salad dressing is bubbling away, like an opened soda or beer only in slow motion. This continued for several minutes, until I replaced the cap and put it in the fridge saying "I think we should hold off on this until we know whats going on." It is as if something had fermented; I assume the gas was CO2 but don't know. One concern was botulism, but the vinegar in the dressing makes that pretty unlikely. I plan to call the company, but they do not have a 24 hour customer service number. We didn't notice any obvious off tastes, but I have not had this particular dressing before so might not notice an unusual taste. It has been a couple of hours and we both feel fine, so it seems safe, but it was still pretty strange. Any ideas what it could be? If I can find out anything from another source I will post an update. Thanks in advance.
posted by TedW to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think companies will top off the "empty" space in the bottle with some kind of inert gas to prevent spoilage. Perhaps... okay, that's all I've got. I don't think I made the inert gas part up, but I'm not sure why it would be bubbling up for several minutes. Strange!
posted by thehmsbeagle at 6:36 PM on October 12, 2007

Here is the url for Girads
posted by JayRwv at 6:38 PM on October 12, 2007

Best answer: Does sound like fermentation. It's quite possible you wouldn't taste it, since it's made of two fermented foods in the first place.
posted by abcde at 6:44 PM on October 12, 2007

Best answer: I wouldn't eat it.

thehmsbeagle - You're right. Manufacturers typically use nitrogen to prevent any bacterial growth.

For something to have increased the pressure in the jar, causing the hissing, must mean there's been some type of fermentalicious growth going on.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 6:46 PM on October 12, 2007

Response by poster: Here is the url for Girads

Yeah, I checked that out; that is for foodservice products; they license the name to T. Marzetti for consumer products.

I wouldn't eat it.

I agree, I am guessing it is harmless, but a $4 bottle of salad dressing is not worth taking much risk over. I just saved it in case it turns out to be important or unusual, especially since we did eat a little.
posted by TedW at 7:25 PM on October 12, 2007

Best answer: Years ago when I worked for Whole Foods (late 90s) there was a marinated jarred feta that when we first started carrying it, was merchandised unrefrigerated. Later on, a directive came down to discard any product that had been displayed unrefrigerated and order new - and to merchandise it refrigerated from that point forward. When I opened the jars to dump them in the trash, some of them had fizzing like the kind you describe. It turned out that the level of acidity in the product was just slightly shy of what it took to prevent fermentation from occurring in some cases. I would guess that might have been what happened here. I wouldn't expect illness to result, but definitely contact the manufacturer - with the lot number - to let them know, and the store as well. Fizzy is good for some things, but bottled dressing is not one of them.
posted by jocelmeow at 7:31 PM on October 12, 2007

Response by poster: jocelmeow: That sounds pretty reasonable; the stuff wasn't refrigerated, it just says refrigerate after opening.
posted by TedW at 7:36 PM on October 12, 2007

Best answer: I've seen expired salad dressing do that, so I agree that it is fermented and possibly improperly stored.
posted by mdrk at 10:22 AM on October 13, 2007

Best answer: Crazily, I had a banana ferment a few months ago, just sitting on the counter (none of his siblings fermented, either). I picked it up and saw liquid on the counter and squeezed the banana a bit. It was firm but squishy, due to the pressure inside and the liquefaction of the banana. I opened it over the sink and it had a very strong alcohol-like smell and what was left of the flesh was sort of fizzy.

I didn't eat it.
posted by 6550 at 1:08 PM on October 13, 2007

Response by poster: It looks like the fermenters have it!; probably a species of lactobacillus according to this article I finally found (along with some more scholarly abstracts that I may look at when I am back at work and have internet access to a number of journals). Interestingly enough, this AskMe now comes up pretty high on Google searches involving "salad", "dressing", "fermentation", and "spoilage" in various permutations. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction, fellow MeFites!.
posted by TedW at 3:59 PM on October 13, 2007

Response by poster: Final update-I just got enough time to call the customer service number and the lady confirmed that it was "lactic acid fermentation" which was close enough for me to know we were right about what was going on. She confirmed that it was harmless but was not good for the taste of the dressing. She took down all the info about the lot number and date and told me to discard the product and she would send me some coupons for more. Kind of an interesting experience.
posted by TedW at 10:06 AM on October 19, 2007

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