why does milk expire faster in nyc

Dig up a copy of, go to Title 24 and dig some more in the milk section and you'll find this requirement: "No person shall possess, store, offer for sale, sell, give away or distribute any such product the label of which bears an expiration date beyond the period specified in this section. The expiration date shall not be more than nine (9) calendar days following the date of pasteurization. "
There it is: New York City's 9 Day Rule For Milk. The milk rules go on to explain just how that expiration date must be marked on milk cartons. The date "shall be expressed by the first three letters of the month followed by the numeral or numerals constituting the appropriate calender date. " It also has to be inked on "legibly and conspicuously. " Now, about the multiple expiration dates on each milk carton. Consider it just another side effect of a mish-mash of regulations in the New York metropolitan area. Milk sold on Long Island, for instance, has to meet the less strict requirements of в while nearby states also have their own requirements for expiration dates.


In Connecticut, for example, Facing all these differing standards for expiration dates in one geographic area, milk distributors choose to simplify things for themselves. They just print two expiration dates on milk cartons destined for New York City. While the 9 Day Rule in the city has a relatively short history, helping shoppers steer clear of spoiled milk has been a political issue in New York City for a full century. The last time the city's sell-by date requirements changed was in 1987, extending the expiration date to 9 days after pasteurization, up from four days. A New York Times article from that era в в recounts some of this history: "In 1911 the sales period was set at 36 hours. Except for the period between 1960 and 1962, when the state pre-empted localities in dating milk, the city has steadily extended that time, until in 1978 it reached the current four days. The extensions were pegged partly to technological advances, partly to political maneuvering. " There have continued to be periodic bursts of outrage over spoiled or expired products on store shelves, but there has been no reversal in the trend toward easing the stringency of the city's expiration dates.


DOES THE EXPIRATION DATE EVEN MATTER? In all the questioning and debate over the city's unique rules for dating milk, there seems to be an acknowledgment that Milk Selling In New York City Is Just Different. There a running thread that maybe there's some truth to the fear that milk just doesn't last long enough here. There's this, for example, from "F. Y. I. City Milk's Hard Life," a New York Times article from March 24, 1998: "According to John Gadd, a spokesman for the city's Department of Health, milk shipped to New York is more likely to stand unrefrigerated for brief periods, both before it reaches store shelves and also on the way from store to home. 'It's one of those uniquely New York sorts of things,' he said. " Others have more directly blamed local grocery store practices.


In a 2009 Atlantic article a milk producer complained: "If there's any reason that milk goes bad quicker in New York City, it's because stores don't adhere to the state-mandated 45-degree temperature ceiling for stocking perishables. " In my admittedly limited experience, it does seem hard unusually to find milk with a decent amount of life left in it in New York City, at least when compared to others places I've lived. The local grocery and drug stores I rely on now usually stock milk that is already very, very close to the city's expiration date. (This is more true with skim milk and half gallon sized cartons, for whatever reason. ) Milk does usually last beyond the NYC date, but rarely does it last for a full week after purchase. I suspect that the cramped nature of the typical neighborhood grocery store is a big part of the problem. Navigating crowded sidewalks and entrance ways during delivery and unloading probably takes extra time, lengthening the period milk is in transit outside a refrigerated truck and refrigerated storage inside the store.


Within the store, crowded aisles mean store employees have to interrupt their restocking efforts to let customers pass, lengthening the time milk sits in crates on the floor before making it onto refrigerated shelves. And no expiration date (or dates) are likely to fix that. First off if you are talking about spoilage the temperature you have your fridge set to makes a very big difference. Milk at 33 degrees lasts at least twice as long as milk at 40 degrees. As for me though -- milk starts tasting off 8 days BEFORE the expiration date and I wont drink milk 5 days before the expiration date. Note these are NJ exp dates. I often see expires may 27th (may 23rd in NYC) so I can say the NYC expiration dates are closer to what I go by(actually if they have a NYC date that is pretty close to the I wont drink it line). Good milk is 11-13 days away from expiration when you buy it.

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