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Will he die?

I work with a guy who brought a sandwich into the office on 4/12. It was from a grocery store and had been wrapped with the date on it. It has been in the fridge since 4/12 and the receptionist was just about to tell him she was tossing it. This afternoon she came running into my office and slammed the door and told me he was eating the sandwich! It was smoked turkey and swiss with at least lettuce from what she could see. Not sure about condiments. Assuming it was fresh when he bought it, it's almost three and a half weeks old. Wouldn't it have tasted off at the very least?

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  1. Hmm. DH frequently eats forgotten leftovers from our fridge that I would not touch with a ten foot pole. Never seems to bother him. That's a pretty old sandwich, though. It's quite possible he may experience some gastrointestinal discomfort later on tonight....

    1 Reply
    1. re: diablo

      Guessing that he does this often, I would bet he doesn't. I worked with a guy who would put leftover pizza in another guy's mail slot...and that guy ate the pizza whenever he wandered over because he liked freebies. And he was fine.

    2. Wow. Your co-worker's an idiot. Luncheon meat goes bad within days of being sliced. It shouldn't be kept longer than 5-7 days refrigerated. Not to mention the condition of the lettuce. If he routinely eats the way you describe he's courting poisoning.

      1. I think he wanted a 4 day weekend. I can think of easier ways to go about it that eating an almost month old sandwich though. I make sure I finish off my lunchmeat within 3 days of it being sliced.

        1 Reply
        1. re: swsidejim

          "I make sure I finish off my lunchmeat within 3 days of it being sliced."

          Me too.

        2. It almost had to have tasted bad. He must have been pretty darn hungry. I think some people believe that if something's wrapped up it won't go bad....

          1. For a moment I thought you were saying it was from 4 December (we write dates differently in Europe)! That's pretty disgusting - it must have tasted foul...

            1. I'm not sure he'll die but I'd keep my distance from the company bathroom.

              1. I'll eat just about anything, but I don't think I would have eaten that sandwich. Let us know if he shows up for work tomorrow!

                4 Replies
                1. re: ricepad

                  He's here. Appears to be no worse for wear. We checked the garbage after he'd left last night and he ate every bite except for some lettuce. He actually brought in another sandwich from the same place! He must have enjoyed it!

                    1. re: southernitalian

                      >>He's here. Appears to be no worse for wear.

                      Yup. Bet he, like my former coworker, does that kind of stuff all the time.

                      1. re: dolores

                        He must have built up quite a tolerance. And this is a wealthy man who was born with the proverbial silver spoon. There was no reason for him to eat that sandwich. Evidently he just left for lunch and said he was going to get some BBQ so he must be feeling absolutely no symptoms.

                  1. I am quite certain he will not die.

                    1. If he's still alive, I suspect he takes probiotics.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: beevod

                        Takes probiotics? I think that sandwich counts as a probiotic in and of itself!!

                      2. My ex-BF's roommate once ate 3 week old chicken that his girlfriend made for him. It wasn't even wrapped up properly in the fridge. He was fine, but I though I was going to be sick!! Hahaha.... This is the same guy who bought those Bake and Break cookies from the store, put it in the cabinet (not refrigerator!!) and then wanted to took them 2 weeks later!!!! The 2 of them couldn't find "Keep Refridgerated" on the package until I showed them where it was.

                        I think the only way boys survive college is by eating like that so they don't mind doing it later in life if necessary... or just hungry.

                        1. What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger!

                          The smoked turkey and swiss cheese are likely full of preservatives. I must admit I am one of those people who have tempted fate often by ignoring best before dates. I have also eaten deli meats that have been in the fridge a long time without significant problems. I am attempting to turn over a new leaf, but I do feel we are overly cautious about what we eat sometimes. And that's ok too.

                          Ponder the existence of cockroaches and rats, creatures who (like humans) have managed to populate the entire world in a myriad of environments. A significant part of their (and our) success is due to the ability to utilize many different types and qualities of food resources. The less fussy you are about what you eat, the less likely you'll starve to death.

                          Now, I am surprised that the lettuce was still good. That is the first thing to go, and usually gets mushy and gross very quickly, rendering the rest of the sandwich inedible.


                          16 Replies
                          1. re: moh

                            I have to laugh at some of the squeamishness of people who religiously adhere to "use by" dates when I think of ban chan dishes, some of which are kept for months and even years.

                            1. re: hannaone

                              Um...panchan dishes are often fermented and therefore meant to "hang around for a long time," fermentation offers many safeguards that nearly month old deli meat and unpreserved lettuce don't. There's no comparison between the two.

                              1. re: aelph

                                I was imagining the horror of the super adherents at eating something aged:-)

                                1. re: hannaone

                                  see, I imagine the guy that'd eat an eldritch deli sandwich being the same guy that'd turn his nose up at kim chee or stinky cheese :)

                                  1. re: aelph

                                    I plan on using the phrase "eldritch deli sandwich" at least once a day for the rest of my life!

                              2. re: hannaone

                                Hannaone, I must admit that every time there is a post about food safety and storage times, i think about my mother's kitchen, and think -wow- there are people who would refuse to eat all this good stuff because it has been in the fridge for more than a few days....

                                1. re: moh

                                  How many people would refuse to eat top grade beef if they knew what the aging process entailed? Or Chinese duck?

                                  1. re: moh

                                    you and me both. I'll leave cooked chicken out all night on the kitchen counter and pick at it the next day without even reheating it. I am awful, oh well.

                                2. re: moh

                                  Right on moh.

                                  In the affluent countries too many have been raised and live in "sterile" environments. Hence their bodies are ill-equipped to deal with a modicum of bacteria that most people around the globe have trained their systems to accept. Probably why so many first world people collapse when relatively benign germs are ingested.

                                  Oh well, time for some sauerkraut and a ripe brie on sourdough sandwich.

                                  1. re: mrbozo

                                    again sauerkraut and "ripe brie" have no connection to old deli "loaf" turkey and ancient lettuce...the aforementioned have integral safeguards against the biological agents eager to colonize an ancient turkey sammy...

                                    1. re: aelph

                                      Maybe the pennicilin that was probably growing on the bread helped.

                                      Then again there is so much salt and preservatives in deli cold cuts, cheese and bread that probably nothing was wrong with it. I once actively tried to get a piece of bread to mold and after a few weeks ... nothing. The biggest problem would have been the lettuce in terms of slime factor.

                                      1. re: rworange

                                        Yes! Someone else who is astonished at the thought of the lettuce still being edible... Must be iceberg? What else could be that hardy?

                                        1. re: moh

                                          Isn't genetic modification wonderful?

                                          1. re: mrbozo

                                            Iceburg has no genetic modification other than long ago traditional breeding.

                                    2. re: mrbozo

                                      I completely agree. I travel outside the US often with a friend who won't eat anything other than white rice and McDonalds when abroad, for fear of getting sick. I on the other hand will eat just about anything put in front of me, and drink bevvies with local ice. I don't get sick. Last trip - in Singapore mind you (known for their sanitary habits - I actually saw a government poster warning against double-dipping!) - she got an orange juice that didn't come from a prepackaged container at a Starbucks, and drank it anyway, noting my good health in spite of my "careless" habits. Of course she got sick. I told her I thought the fact that she's never exposed her system to the bacteria that I've ingested is probably what caused her to get sick. She was quite irritated, and I worked hard to hide my smugnicity.

                                    3. re: moh

                                      Yeah, I don't worry too much about expiration dates. I don't trust the people who make my processed food in any other way, I know they're feeding me crap and destroying the world to do it (not that that keeps me from buying it); why would I trust them to give me the right date?

                                      What I trust is my 5 senses. If they fail me, they fail me; I'll live (or I won't). But they're right most of the time. In fact, the only times I've gotten food poisoning was from dishes I ate at restaurants, not from anything in my own disgusting fridge.

                                    4. I wonder if my colleagues slam doors and gossip about the contents of my lunch and rifle through the garbage after I leave the coffee room. Maybe it would help if I were a wealthy man?

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: DeppityDawg

                                        Deppity dawg - just so you know, this man is LEGENDARY in this office for his bizarre behavior and eating habits. He takes food out of other peoples' lunch bags and goes through leftovers that could be older than that sandwich for all he knows. He regularly burns popcorn in the microwave. He has put very old, sour milk in his coffee. I wish I could say his behavior was entirely food-related but it would not be appropriate to write more about him on this board. He is the son of the owner of the company so we have to tolerate him. We thought at the very least he'd be out for a few days after that sandwich but no such luck.

                                          1. re: southernitalian

                                            Wow, if you didn't say he was young, it could have been the same guy! Our eccentric worked with us 20 years ago and used to go into conference rooms after meetings were over and glom whatever was left. He was a Ph. D and very well off.


                                            1. re: dolores

                                              He's about 40 and I can assure you he does not have a Ph. D. And Sam, from what I could see, he ate a good deal of the lettuce. There was just a tiny slimy bit on the wrapper. We just checked on the other one that he's got brewing back there. Still rotting.

                                        1. What's up with you guys? Turns out he dumped the lettuce. The sandwich meats in the the US are so treated and preserved that the sandwich was probably good for another 10 years. Add to that that you all probably maintain a super clean ref! Even your purchased mayo will last for 100's of years. The guy was just surfing the absurdity of American food fears.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka


                                            Sam, I'm surprised with you:

                                            everyone knows sandwich meats(turkey, roast beef, some hams) aren't nearly as hardy as some'd like to believe

                                            nor, commercial breads

                                            yes, there are American food fears, and there're those who have no clue


                                            beyond all this hand-wringing: how about just common sense culinary aesthetics: this isn't Depression('08 "recession") dining or nuevo dumpster diving by those who insist on proving a point: spy many a Midwestern supermarket deli counter and wretch at the piles of pre-sliced, dessicated, rancid-appearing "efficacious" delights.

                                            1. re: aelph

                                              aelph, thank you! I follow North American food trends from a distance. The thread about banning and fining those that sell bacon wrapped dogs in LA has me outraged. I tend to coinclude that it would be impossible to obtain a piece of lunch meat--or just about anything else--in the US that isn't bulletproof.

                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                Your posts are always thought-provoking; I just wanted to make sure we're talking about the same product, here...

                                                ...lunch "loaf" meats (roast beef, ham, turkey...not, necessarily sausages) are more prone to bacterial contamination, mainly because, I think, handlers imagine they are impermeable...

                                          2. He got lucky....staph grows nicely in the circumstance described and creates a great toxin that won't kill you, but may make you think you are going to die. As a friend told me once about such an experience. The First day you think you're going to die, the second day you realize you won't, but wished you had.

                                            1. Out of morbid curiosity, I keep coming back to this thread, like visiting the scene of a disaster, wondering if there were any survivors. I take it he's still alive?

                                              15 Replies
                                              1. re: HSBSteveM

                                                I think they are putting all their hopes on that second sandwich. Of course, if they really want him to die, there are methods more effective than hopeā€¦

                                                  1. re: mrbozo

                                                    He's still alive and the second sandwich remains uneaten. I brought in some leftovers in gladware and was told he opened the lid and examined the contents so I will be going out for lunch today.

                                                    1. re: southernitalian

                                                      I'm with HBSSteveM... I saw your latest post and had to find out what was happening. So you won't eat what you brought for lunch because he inspected your food? Can't you say something to him...I know he's a legendary food voyeur, but it's Your food.

                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                        Or perhaps put the Gladware container in a plastic or paper bag to hide the contents even more. Or does he open those as well?

                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                          I have no idea how far he'll go but I think I just made matters far worse for myself. As I was coming back from lunch, he asked me how my mother's day went. Before I could stop myself, I told him about all of the cooking I did yesterday and he asked me if I was a good cook. Now he'll examine/taste/eat everything I bring to work. The paper bag idea is a good one. With a staple to ensure it has remained unopen. I have a lot of leftovers I want to have for lunch this week.

                                                          1. re: southernitalian

                                                            LOL! Yes, you definitely made it worse for yourself - never tell a kitchen snoop you did a lot of cooking over the weekend!

                                                            The staple in the paper bag is a good idea. And figure out a place to stick it in the back of the shelves behind other bags.

                                                            OR - can you tuck it in one of the vegetable drawers? Or perhaps stop at Target on the way home and get one of those insulated cooler lunch bags where you can freeze one of those blue gel thingies and keep the entire thing at your desk. :-)

                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                              I was thinking that if you Do use the paper bag then use multiple staples. But I like LindaWhit's idea about keeping it right at your desk in a proper cooler bag.

                                                      2. re: southernitalian

                                                        I had some one do that to me once. I added some things that only I like and they never stuck their nose I anything of mine ever again.

                                                        1. re: PaulaT

                                                          HOO HOO! I like that idea! You should bring in an extra strong batch of wasabi mash potato! See if he likes it!

                                                          Although this could back fire if he does like it.

                                                          1. re: moh

                                                            Folks - This is a man who ate a 3 1/2 week old sandwich. Do you really think he's going to let a little wasabi get in his way? I think I will try the staple thing. The cooler idea is good but it would look odd walking into the building. Someone might think I had beer in it.

                                                            1. re: southernitalian

                                                              Well if the paper bag doesn't work...here's a link to a cooler bag that I think doesn't look like a beer carrier. I bought one very similar to this for each of us a few years ago and they really look very nice. http://www.getabag.com/content-produc...

                                                              Thee are sinilar products at places like Target and Wal-Mart.

                                                              1. re: Gio

                                                                I've seen both the beer cooler bag and the "pretend" lunch bag cooler bag in our fridge. I like the one you linked Gio, because it takes up a lot less room.

                                                                Good luck, s-italian - let us know how it goes! :-)

                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                  I once worked at a place where there were notorious food thieves who would cadge things out of the communal kitchen. I put a sign on my bag -- caution, specimen inside -- and no one ever touched it...

                                                                  1. re: roxlet

                                                                    Great idea roxlet! Just hope the notorious food thieves aren't part of the "urine as important supplement" movement...

                                                                    Another possible idea: Pack something really smelly in a bag with your name on it - Really old sour kimchi, Epoisses cheese or raw milk Brie - put this stuff in an airtight container. Let them open it. It will act as a odor alarm. The container gets opened, everyone knows right away. Then you use your nose to figure out who goes into a bag that has your name clearly written on it...

                                                                    (oh dear. moh has entered her fantasy world and doesn't seem to want to come out...)

                                                1. If anyone's interested, the second sandwich is being consumed as I type. I actually took a good look at it (didn't touch it) this morning. The sell-by date was 4/4. The lettuce was unrecognizable.

                                                  22 Replies
                                                    1. re: southernitalian

                                                      LOL! Oh man, this thread is almost as good as last year's thread posted by SanJoseHound re: the guest who insisted on bring ribs to a cookout where ribs were being served! LOL

                                                      s-italian, you're going to be able to keep us entertained all summer with his antics. :-D BTW - did you staple your brown paper bag shut this morning? ;-)

                                                      1. re: southernitalian

                                                        The second one is older than the first one??? The hopeful tone of your topic question may be rewarded yet....

                                                        1. re: Bat Guano

                                                          No. On 5/7 he ate a sandwich with a sell-by date of 4/12. Today he ate one with a 4/4 sell-by date so today's was much "fresher". This will be nothing for him.

                                                          1. re: southernitalian

                                                            Sorry. I meant to write that the second one was from 5/4. Evidently it gets worse. A few months back the sales team was taken out to dinner at Buca di Beppe (sp?). They ordered way too much food and at the end of the night they had everything packaged up and he took it all home. There was a LOT of food. Pasta and pizzas. Today one of our salespeople told me he was still bringing in leftovers for up to amonth after we went out. Hey, if he can stomach it, I feel better knowing all of that food wasn't wasted.

                                                            1. re: southernitalian

                                                              I agree with you about the lack of food waste(tho' it was Bucco...)...however...regardless of rigid guidelines, possible over-stringency when it comes to food contamination...regardless, how can someone be so clueless about basic food safety? Not to mention why someone(who apparently makes a decent salary and can afford fresh food, etc.) would eat old, old remnants. It must crossover into other neuroses? Be THAT as it may, I think the "fratboy" argument offered above is bunk...it's not cute or endearing that someone, irrespective of gender, reaches a certain age and treats food and his or her body the way this guy does...

                                                              off-putting to say the least

                                                              1. re: aelph

                                                                I'm telling you... if there is a nuclear disaster, it will be him and the cockroaches. I have no doubt he could survive.

                                                                1. re: moh

                                                                  My judo teacher for 10 years when I was a kid was the second highest ranked in the world (although then way too old for competitions). He said a lot of things, among them: "Judo boy, strong like weed. Can survive anywhere under bad condition. American boy like hothouse plant, look very good and very big, but cannot survive if go out hothouse [you add the heavy Japanese accent]!!"

                                                                  Sandwich eater has got to be a judo boy!

                                                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                    Sandwich eater either has a cast iron stomach or a drek guardian angel.....

                                                              2. re: southernitalian

                                                                It IS possible he froze the Buca spoils, so to speak.

                                                                1. re: rworange

                                                                  If the sandwitch was in the fridge all that time and the fridge was at proper temp. he will be fine....after a while desication begins and nothing will grow on that sandwitch....

                                                                  1. re: Pollo

                                                                    I think most of us are missing the point, it's not particularly tasty (I wouldn't exactly call it "dry aged sandwich" and label it a delicacy). On the other hand perhaps it's an "acquired taste" and I lack the mature sense of taste to truly appreciate month-old sandwiches.

                                                                    1. re: Blueicus

                                                                      (this is a repost from the "Food Safety Question: Natto" thread on Not about Food Board, sorry for repeat if you've read it already)

                                                                      In 3 week old sandwiches, I look for the following qualities:

                                                                      1. Sandwich meat should have a slightly gamey quality and a silky, slighty slimy surface. If it shoots out the other end of the sandwich on the first bite, the sandwich may be past its prime.

                                                                      2. Mayonnaise should have a dry, rubbery crust or rind. Some connaisseurs feel the rind of the mayonnaise is the best part.

                                                                      3. Bread should be free of mold. Preservatives in the bread make the 3 week old sandwich the acclaimed delicacy that it is.

                                                                      4. All vegetable matter (tomatoes, lettuce, onions) should have combined with the processed cheese to create a a peppy, piquante sauce for the sandwich meat. This fermentation process takes approximately 3 weeks, but without this step, you lose the complex compound flavours one can only achieve with adequate aging.

                                                                      Bon Appetit! :)

                                                                      1. re: moh


                                                                        I don't think I'll be able to eat a deli sandwich for quite some time without thinking about a "peppy, piquante sauce ".

                                                                        I'm feeling a bit qeasy now.

                                                                        1. re: deborah24

                                                                          Good morning all! Here's the update - he only ate half of yesterday's sandwich and put the rest in the fridge. Guess it wasn't aged enough.

                                                                          1. re: southernitalian

                                                                            I hate to say it, SI, but I really think this boy has a problem of another kind. He probably won't die. Does his father know he does this?

                                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                                              It's rumored that his mother, who occasionally comes into the office, is like this. She does not throw away anything, food or otherwise. Again, one could make the arguement that their frugal ways are what led to them being so well off, but how about this: on my first day of work here, I was offered a Diet Coke from the fridge by a member of this family. After that, I might have helped myself to one every two weeks or so, for about three months. The fridge is filled with bottled water and soda, apparently there for the taking. Then recently, I was told by a co-worker that the mother buys the soda at Costco and that you are supposed to pay the son $.50 whenever you want one. She had been using the proceeds to buy shoes until there was a mutiny and everyone in the office refused to buy her "blood soda" (as it was described to me). So God only knows how long that soda has been in there, not that there's any danger of it going bad. He's likely been raised on rotten food.

                                                                              1. re: southernitalian

                                                                                Gosh - I guess it really does take all kinds. Fascinating place you work at...LOL Aren't people interesting?

                                                                        2. re: moh

                                                                          Moh, you are hilarious. Southernitalian, thanks for keeping us posted; I think this is the topic of the year

                                                                          Like many others, I am addicted to this topic in a very unhealthy way. Just like watching a really bad soap opera, I am waiting for something bizzare to happen to our guy. But will it?

                                                                  2. re: southernitalian

                                                                    Buca di Beppo (in answer to the sp? above).

                                                                    1. re: cheeseguysgirl

                                                                      ...was anyone questioning the spelling?(I realized I cocked-up the name earlier, but really didn't think it mattered---and no one else did either, apparently---...so I didn't bother editing it)...

                                                                      1. re: aelph

                                                                        I believe cheeseguysgirl was referring to southernitalian's earlier post in which she wondered whether she spelled it right.

                                                            2. I thought about this a while and realized that there are probably no pathogens in the sandwich. Deli meat generally gets a slime due to yeast - which isn't great, but won't kill you. The Mayo might sour, but no real danger there and the lettuce is being wilted by various bacteria that don't like humans. The breads might get a bad mold occasionally, but mostly it will be penicillin mold and not harmful. So all in all taste would be terrible, but not generally dangerous.

                                                              1. I was cleaning up the pantry and came across with a furikake that expired in 2006 (didn't know that furikake expires); oh well I've been using it over the last two years and I am alive. Suddenly this reminded me of our sandwich guy.

                                                                So long story short, it's been a while. Is our guy still alive? Has he eaten anything odd-er, older?

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: emerilcantcook

                                                                  Funny you should ask. Today I had to stop by his office and noticed he was eating Activia or whatever that yogurt is that Jamie Lee Curtis advertises. I was told he went to a doctor for a related issue I decided did NOT need to be included in my post and must have been given some advice on how to eat better. He's been leaving the office for lunch and coming back empty-handed. I'll tell him you were asking for him!

                                                                2. My local grocery store stopped preslicing meats each day, to keep them fresh longer.

                                                                  I think four days is a good rule.

                                                                  1. This is a funny thread. But seriously, most folks would not eat food that looks or smells "off;" ( the sandwich guy being an exception).The problem is that foods with many kinds of contamination such as staph, hepatitis, salmonella, etc. may look and taste perfectly fine. The point is, just because it looks and smells good, does not mean it is good.