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Packaging you can taste


Fat Guy
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Maybe I'm wrong but I feel I can taste the packaging of a lot of foods. It doesn't really make sense with, for example, canned foods because cans tend to be lined with plastic. But I still think I can taste the can.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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It may not make sense, but I've definitely experienced what you describe. The threshold for perceiving these substances must be very, very low. I remember noticing a distinct cardboard flavour to milk packed in a carton, when I'd been drinking milk bottled in glass for a while; that made no sense, because the cardboard carton is sealed in plastic, so if any off-note was detected, it should've been that.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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I wonder if it's brain memory - that is, you used to be able to taste the can and now you just assume you still do?

It's a possibility (but in the case of the milk, I hadn't noticed a cardboard-y taste until I switched back from glass, it wasn't something I'd noticed previously, so I wasn't expecting that at all).

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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The worst offender is food service plastic wrap. Not all of it, but if you get sandwich or a wedge of cheese wrapped in the wrong kind, it's all you can taste.

Ditto that. There's a local cheese shop here in town that keeps all their cheeses wrapped in plastic wrap. They're very willing to offer samples, but it's an empty gesture, because the samples always taste like plastic and very little else.

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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The worst offender is food service plastic wrap. Not all of it, but if you get sandwich or a wedge of cheese wrapped in the wrong kind, it's all you can taste.

Ditto that. There's a local cheese shop here in town that keeps all their cheeses wrapped in plastic wrap. They're very willing to offer samples, but it's an empty gesture, because the samples always taste like plastic and very little else.

This is such a major pet peeve of mine. When I was trained behind the cheese counter, I was taught to diligently scrape the face of the cheese with the back of a knife before cutting a sample to get rid of that plastic wrap taste. I have yet to find a cheese shop in Manhattan or Brooklyn that adheres to this practice.

For my money, nothing tastes more like the container it is packed in than canned corn.

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Also, this seems like a good place to rant about baristas who get their cologne/scented lotion/what have you on your cup and lid while making your drink. This has happened to me four different times in the past few weeks, at two different coffee shops. All four times I didn't take a sip of my drink until I was back in my car. The first three times I didn't have time to deal with it and had to throw the drink out, as there was no way to consume it without getting a snootful of perfume. Finally on the fourth time I hauled myself back in and asked for a new cup.

There are two fields--nursing and food service--in which I would think it would be self-evident that one should not wear scented products. If there is anything worse than tasting perfume on your coffee cup lid, it's having to smell it on the nurse hovering over you when you're ill. Frankly I'm amazed that there are not corporate policies prohibiting people in these fields from wearing perfumes, scented lotions, etc.

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I also notice it with bottled water and the food service plastic wrap. Dasani water is particularly horrid - though I may be reacting to the blue color. Taste memory could certainly be a part of things. I know I first had the Dasani on a really hot day and the bottle was not completely cold so there may have been a scent component as well.

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There are two fields--nursing and food service--in which I would think it would be self-evident that one should not wear scented products.

So, so true. I'm always amazed at how strongly scented some soaps are in restaurant washrooms, too, such that if I use the facilities in the middle of my meal, I can't smell anything but hand soap for the next course.

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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I buy Muir Glen plum tomatoes in the can. Recently, they switched the plum tomatoes to a can without a lining and the difference in taste is astounding. I can't stand them now and have switched back to their regular tomatoes that are still in the lined cans. I'm sure there's a health risk to this or something, but that unlined can ruined my sauces. I don't have that problem with the lined cans.

nunc est bibendum...

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I buy Muir Glen plum tomatoes in the can. Recently, they switched the plum tomatoes to a can without a lining and the difference in taste is astounding. I can't stand them now and have switched back to their regular tomatoes that are still in the lined cans. I'm sure there's a health risk to this or something, but that unlined can ruined my sauces. I don't have that problem with the lined cans.

Canned tomatoes seem to suffer from a bit of a catch-22. My understanding is the low pH of tomato products breaks down any unprotected metal (or at least metals that cans are usually made of) it comes into contact with, leaving the tomato with a metallic taste and ultimately pitting the can. On the other hand, the white plastic lining most tomato cans contains BPA, which is (probably) notsogoodforyou.

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We swear that we can taste the plastic that the prepped salad greens are packed in.

Yes! Although I'm not sure if it's the plastic--but definitely there is a bad taste that goes away when you rinse them. It seems to me like the air in the bag is foul.

I got my first non-BPA can of Muir Glen tomatoes last night, but I used just a bit in a soup so didn't notice any difference in taste. This summer I'm planning to jar as many tomatoes as I can. That seems to be the only real solution to the BPA dilemma, at least until glass-jarred tomatoes become commercially available. I don't see why they're not, all kinds of other products come in glass jars so it can't be too prohibitively expensive.

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We swear that we can taste the plastic that the prepped salad greens are packed in.

Yes! Although I'm not sure if it's the plastic--but definitely there is a bad taste that goes away when you rinse them. It seems to me like the air in the bag is foul.

As I understand it, salad greens are often packaged in a modified atmosphere to keep them fresh longer. I'm not sure what the gas mix in question is, though.

I got my first non-BPA can of Muir Glen tomatoes last night, but I used just a bit in a soup so didn't notice any difference in taste. This summer I'm planning to jar as many tomatoes as I can.

Aren't the lids for home canning coated with a BPA-containing plastic? I guess there's always headspace, though.

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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Aren't the lids for home canning coated with a BPA-containing plastic? I guess there's always headspace, though.

Yes, they are, but properly canned tomatoes wouldn't normally be in contact with them except during the actual water bath canning, when I assume they move around so much during the boiling that they reach the lid. And there is always the option of using Weck jars, which have glass lids and rubber rings.

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Ziplock baggies will donate a distinct taste to anything stored in them long enough. This is enough to ruin crackers.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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Something for you to consider:

I have a water distiller which I use to make 100% pure water.

Very interesting that when I serve pure water to friends, I often get the same reaction, "Hey, do you realize that your water has gone bad? it tastes funny."

dcarch

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Not exactly packaging, but I hate drinking coffee out of an extruded polystyrene foam cup. I think it does something weird to the taste, and I don't like the texture of it either.

"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

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All these observations might be possible but I was wondering how many of them would be "real" under a blind test ? It would be really interesting to see if some people here could ask friends to do some blind test, e.g canned soda vs. bottle soda, Muir Glen tomatoes with and without lining etc.

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Sometimes it's possible to be empirical without rigorous, controlled testing. The Muir Glen tomatoes are a case in point. I was shocked when I first tasted them without the liner. Then again, you might say that I was engaged in a longitudinal test, having used the tomatoes for years before being hit with the unlined cans. I even bought a few more cans just to see if it was a fluke. It was not.

I'm a bit worried about BPA, but I don't think I can can enough tomatoes to last me (I use a lot of tomatoes). And I'm not going to use those unlined canned tomatoes. So I guess I'm stuck chancing it for the time being with the lined cans. Then again, I drink a whole lot and sometimes smoke too, and I eat a decent amount of grilled food in the summer, so I'm hardly carcinogen free...

nunc est bibendum...

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The only packaged salad greens I can consume are those from Trader Joe's. I've had this conversation with a friend over the past year each time he buys packaged produce. To me, the greens taste like they've absorbed odors form the refrigerated section of the stores. I don't know what it is about the bags from TJ's, but they taste fine to me, and I've purchased the bags from different stores in my area.

I cannot stand the taste of Eskimo Pies on a wooden stick because I cringe from the taste of the wood. I contacted the company in Richmond years ago and they told me that they used the best wood sticks they could and said it was not an arbitrary decision.

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