Other FAQs

Syrup from a Tree or from a Lab--Which Should You Pour on Your Pancakes?

waffle and syrupAt home and in restaurants, the pancake syrup you're using is probably not pure maple syrup but a highly processed product with flavorings that are likely to fool your taste buds into thinking the ingredients just recently left the tree. Is the real stuff better--tastier and/or healthier?  Which is the better buy? Let's compare the products in many ways and find out how they differ and which is the better choice.  Then let's discuss handling matters--should you refrigerate syrups?  How long can you keep them? Final question: What can I cook with syrups?

Missing Chickens: Where Have All the Small Ones Gone?

chickenI've really missed those cut-up broiler/fryers and those light-weight boneless, skinless chicken breasts I used to buy.  Now, I can't find them in either supermarkets or small grocery stores.  Why do I want them?  1) My husband and I are not big eaters of chicken, so we saved money by purchasing the smaller ones.  2) They took less time to cook, and my convection oven and I are always in a hurry. 3)  I knew smaller breasts come from younger chickens and was convinced (though this may not be correct) that they were more tender and tasty.  But above all, the mystery of their disappearance intrigued me.  Surely they hadn't just flown away.  A Chicago Tribune article published in July 2014 mentioned that broiler/fryers had vanished but didn't explain where they'd gone. Therefore, I was still left wondering. 


One of our Shelf Life Advice Advisory Board members, food scientists Dr. Catherine Cutter, referred me to her colleague at Penn State University, Dr. R. Michael Hulet, associate professor of animal science and an expert on poultry.  He was kind enough to provide the detailed explanation below.  Further comments and advice come from three Shelf Life Advice Advisory Board members.

FAQs about Products We Use with Food

fridgeSafety is the overarching theme connecting these FAQs about the following subjects:

1) plastic bags on rolls in the supermarket, the ones consumers put loose produce and rolls in;

2) kitchen items (the dishwasher, fridge and freezer, and nonstick pots and pans);

3) the gas grill.


 The answers come from four Shelf Life Advice Advisory Board scientists.

Is Cheese Addictive? Only If You Eat It

CheeseThe definitive answer to the title question is an emphatic, "Maybe." Why?  It depends upon whom you ask.  It depends upon your definition of addicted.  It even depends on the type of cheese you're continuously munching on. 


This obscure question was brought to my attention by my daughter, who regularly sends me newsworthy links to topics she thinks I should cover on Shelf Life Advice. This time, she sent me a Discovery Channel online article by Alice Truong, who talks about casomorphins, which, as you might surmise from the last two syllables, are related to the addictive painkiller.  Here's what Truong says, "The primary protein in milk is casein. When the human body digests casein, it produces casomorphins, which have an opiate effect on humans.  Because cheese is denser than, for example, milk, the casein is more heavily concentrated, meaning that eating cheese produces a larger amount of casomorphins in the body compared to eating other dairy products."

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