Thursday, October 28, 2010

Toxic Pancakes!? What do expiration dates mean?

I have been meaning to start writing for days now. I have several pages in my documents file that have information that I want to write about. I have even started and stopped several times. Yet I continue to  be lured away by the next “shiney” that passes before me as I explore and travel through the various sites and blogs  I visit. Yes, adult ADD is alive and well in my world. Actually I just have a hunger for knowledge and tend to jump around looking for more information to back up what I might have read.I guess you could say that along with being a birth junkie, I am an information junkie.

I received an email from my mom today. Or maybe it was yesterday, possibly even a few days ago. I tend to open them when I am trying to avoid something else. You know how it is. There are dishes in the sink, dust on the living room tables, any number of things I should be doing, did I mention my blogs. At any rate, she tends to forward any email that she receives that fall into one of several categories.  
1)    Funny. Some of which have me ROTFLOL and I can’t help but pass them on myself. Others not so much, at least to me, and I have to wonder, “Really…MOM?”
2)       Political. We won’t even go there.  It wouldn’t be pretty. And besides this isn’t a political blog.
3)       Cute. As in “ahhhh, don’t you just want to squeeze them, kiss them, love them. Yeah, I pass some of those along too.
4)        Information that she feels is imperative for me to have. It might help me to get organized, perhaps just useful tips for coffee filters (BTW that one was great and you find it here in my blog). But the best ones are the ones that will potentially save my life. Mind you some of these are very good advice. Others well, let’s just say, I don’t always believe the reference to snopes. 

Anyways back to the one that made me think, “Hey here is a topic I could sink my teeth into.”  You see I am having several people over on Sunday, and I needed an excuse to avoid the above mentioned things. No, really, I had found a couple of cake mixes in the cupboards that are just a tad bit out of date.  Not by much, mind you. I have a wanna be pastry chef in my mists, ah but that is another topic. Did I mention adult ADD?
You might guess which one, as you have probably received this same alarming email. You know that one about the toxic pancake mix, ; the one where the mother  killed her son by forcing the pancakes down his throat. Okay it doesn’t actually say she forced him. There are a few versions of the story, including the one that holds the most weight as being true.  I mean, how could it not be true? It was in the Dear Abby column. And we all know that is like the gospel.

So I decided to have a little look about on the internet. Very interesting things, I did find. First off, my email had a link to So I checked. At the top of the page it does indeed say this is TRUE, but as I read further down, it also said “its inherent  warning is overblown.” I find it interesting that the email doesn’t point this out.It did however warn about any and all baking mixes: Cake, brownies, Bisquick, pancakes, did I miss any? No, that about covers the pictures at the bottom of the email page.

The snopes site does go on to say that there was a death, but that the boy had a very severe mold allergy.  Urban legends  says pretty much the same thing. Hmmm, so what does that all mean. Upon further investigation I found that other people who consumed the “killer pancakes” did not have any reaction at all. The truth of the matter is that, for most people, the worst that can happen is that the pancakes, or cake, brownies, etc. will be stale or not rise properly. There are a few people with severe allergies that should take precautions, but that applies to much in their lives.

If this was truly such a risk, I am sure that the manufactures of baking products would have HUGE warnings on them. After all, my blow dryer has a tag that says “DO NOT use in the shower”, my lawnmower sticker warns me not to put my hand on the blades while it is running, even my paper coffee mug from “unnamed” source says “caution! liquid is hot”. So it stands to reason that there would be a warning on my mixes, something like “WARNING!! This product may cause death if consumed after expiration date.”  After all we are a litigious people, always looking to be the victim of some greedy corporation.

I did check the Pillsbury, after a Google search directed me to questions posted there. Again, there was no mention of toxic risk. Another answer site with answers from various people had no mention of ill effects from using expired products, but did offer suggestions on what to do if you thought the cake mix needed a little uplift. 

The one that I found most useful, although obviously not recently updated, was from University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension in Lancaster County. , on a page about Decoding Food Product Dates.  Although this particular page has not been updated recently, I found that the links I tried were working and had current information.  I am rubbing my hands together in delight as I realize I have hit pay dirt for my unending quest for information.  But for now, I guess I have delayed that kitchen clean-up long enough.

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