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Researchers Find 106-Year-Old Fruitcake, and It Still Looks Edible

Researchers Find 106-Year-Old Fruitcake, and It Still Looks Edible


Though it’s seemingly in prime condition, no one will be eating the cake

Conservators with the Antarctic Heritage Trust have discovered a 100-year-old fruitcake in “excellent condition.” The cake, made by Huntley and Palmers, was found off the coast of Antarctica in Cape Adare, and is still wrapped in paper and encased in the remains of a tin-plated iron-alloy tin. Although the tin is in poor condition, the Trust says that the cake itself looks and smells almost edible.

“With just two weeks to go on the Cape Adare artefacts, finding such a perfectly preserved fruitcake in amongst the last handful of unidentified and severely corroded tins was quite a surprise,” artifacts program manager Lizzie Meek said in a statement. “It’s an ideal high-energy food for Antarctic conditions, and is still a favorite item on modern trips to the Ice.”

The fruitcake is among almost 1,500 other conserved artifacts found in Cape Adare during a large project that concluded in July. The trust is now moving to preserve buildings in the area (the first buildings ever built in Antarctica, and the only examples left of humanity’s first building on any continent).

No one will be eating the fruitcake anytime soon, though. The trust’s permit grants that all items must be returned to the site following conservation. This will happen once each building has been restored. If you want to make your own fresh version of this surprising discovery, you should check out the 9 fruitcake recipes that people will actually want to eat.


How the discovery of a century-old fruit cake triggered a question about today's use of chemical preservatives

Director Michael Holsapple discusses a 106-year-old fruitcake and how it relates to today's modern food industry.

Michael Holsapple is Director of the Michigan State University (MSU) Center for Research on Ingredient Safety (CRIS) and Professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. He is also a toxicologist with over 35 years of experience.

I was asked to consider a recent article entitled, &lsquoAlmost Edible&rsquo 106-Year-Old Fruitcake Found in Antarctica, with an interesting twist. Specifically, I was asked to provide some perspective on what this discovery could mean to today&rsquos food industry &ndash e.g., here&rsquos an item that withstood the test of time without modern preservatives , so there must be some things that food companies could learn from this discovery.

In the interest of transparency, I have to disclose that I have never been a big fan of fruit cake. I attended St. Mary&rsquos Elementary School, and was taught mostly by nuns, who were (apparently) big fans of fruit cake. They would frequently give out large pieces of fruit cake for winning a spelling bee, or an arithmetic quiz. My disdain for fruit cake was sometimes so strong, that I would occasionally misspell a word, or give the wrong answer to a math problem &ndash on purpose &ndash just to avoid the prospect of receiving a piece of fruit cake.

That context is important because the picture of the century-old fruit cake didn&rsquot look any different from what I remembered about the fruit cakes of my youth. The article described this antique culinary delight as &ldquowell preserved&rdquo, and noted that it &ldquolooked and smelled edible&rdquo. Most importantly, the article underscored that &ldquothere is no doubt that the extreme cold in Antarctica has assisted its preservation&rdquo. My analysis probably could have ended there, because, I am confident that food companies are well aware that storing foods in a refrigerator or a freezer can extend their &lsquolife&rsquo.

But, I decided to go a little further and found an article entitled, Food Storage &ndash How Long Can You Keep Fruit Cake. This link from Still Tasty (Your Ultimate Shelf Life Guide) notes that, if a few precautions are taken, fruit cake can be stored for &ldquo1 month at normal room temperature&rdquo and for &ldquo6 months in the fridge&rdquo. Regarding freezing fruit cake, it is emphasized that fruit cake &ldquowill maintain best quality for about 12 months but will remain safe beyond that time&rdquo. Still Tasty emphasizes that their &ldquofood storage information is drawn from multiple sources&rdquo, and includes &ldquoresearch conducted by US government agencies, including the USDA, the FDA, and the CDC&rdquo. Perhaps most relevant to the purposes of this story, Still Tasty emphasized that &ldquothe freezer time shown is for best quality only &ndash fruit cake that has been kept constantly frozen at 0 degrees F will keep it safe indefinitely&rdquo. So, from my perspective, the discovery of a 106-year old fruit cake in Antarctica provides no insights about the use of modern preservatives.

Moreover, as noted above, the article was entitled, &lsquoAlmost Edible&rsquo. It was also emphasized in the article that &ldquothere was a very, very slight rancid butter smell to it&rdquo. I was struck by the fact that neither of these points would compel anyone to sample this fruit cake, which made me wonder about the claim that it was &ldquowell preserved&rdquo &ndash the apparent &lsquodriver&rsquo for questions about modern preservatives. However, the reference to a &ldquorancid smell&rdquo also made me want to know what that &lsquoclue&rsquo could tell us about this fruit cake.

I discovered that rancidity is a term generally used to denote unpleasant odors and flavors in foods resulting from oils or fats being oxidized. In that regard, it is important to note that some chemical preservatives added to foods are anti-oxidants. Interestingly, appearance of a food item &ndash e.g., color or texture &ndash is not normally changed due to this deteriorative process, which would explain why the article noted that the 106-year fruit cake &ldquolooked edible&rdquo. Besides the smell, is there anything wrong with eating rancid oils? That question was addressed in a 2012 article, What's that smell? Rancid food is a waste, and potential danger. Apparently, there are at least two things wrong with eating rancid oils. First, foods contaminated with rancid oils &ldquolose their vitamins&rdquo, and second, rancid oils &ldquocan also develop potentially toxic compounds&rdquo. The bottom line is that the &ldquorancid smell&rdquo associated with the 106-year old fruit cake should be a warning against consuming it.

The last article also highlights a relatively recent trend that underscores the possibilities for unanticipated consequences associated with changing food product formulations. Specifically, the problem with foods going rancid has been compounded as a &ldquobyproduct of Americans and food manufacturers swapping trans fats for polyunsaturates in their products during the past 10 years&rdquo. This trend &ldquoresulted in a whopping 58% percent drop in trans-fatty acid consumption in the US in the past decade" but the article emphasizes, &ldquofor all of their artery blocking evil, trans fats had at least one big benefit &ndash they were very stable, meaning that they took forever to go rancid. When these fats were replaced with polyunsaturates, such as corn and soybean oil, that shelf stability collapsed Experts advise paying close attention to &lsquouse by&rsquo and &lsquosell by&rsquo dates on packages, which may have changed in recent years because of new formulations&rdquo. Of course, while it is hard to argue with the decision to &lsquocall for&rsquo a reduction in our consumption of trans fats who would have predicted the dramatic reduction in the &lsquoshelf life&rsquo of products?


How the discovery of a century-old fruit cake triggered a question about today's use of chemical preservatives

Director Michael Holsapple discusses a 106-year-old fruitcake and how it relates to today's modern food industry.

Michael Holsapple is Director of the Michigan State University (MSU) Center for Research on Ingredient Safety (CRIS) and Professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. He is also a toxicologist with over 35 years of experience.

I was asked to consider a recent article entitled, &lsquoAlmost Edible&rsquo 106-Year-Old Fruitcake Found in Antarctica, with an interesting twist. Specifically, I was asked to provide some perspective on what this discovery could mean to today&rsquos food industry &ndash e.g., here&rsquos an item that withstood the test of time without modern preservatives , so there must be some things that food companies could learn from this discovery.

In the interest of transparency, I have to disclose that I have never been a big fan of fruit cake. I attended St. Mary&rsquos Elementary School, and was taught mostly by nuns, who were (apparently) big fans of fruit cake. They would frequently give out large pieces of fruit cake for winning a spelling bee, or an arithmetic quiz. My disdain for fruit cake was sometimes so strong, that I would occasionally misspell a word, or give the wrong answer to a math problem &ndash on purpose &ndash just to avoid the prospect of receiving a piece of fruit cake.

That context is important because the picture of the century-old fruit cake didn&rsquot look any different from what I remembered about the fruit cakes of my youth. The article described this antique culinary delight as &ldquowell preserved&rdquo, and noted that it &ldquolooked and smelled edible&rdquo. Most importantly, the article underscored that &ldquothere is no doubt that the extreme cold in Antarctica has assisted its preservation&rdquo. My analysis probably could have ended there, because, I am confident that food companies are well aware that storing foods in a refrigerator or a freezer can extend their &lsquolife&rsquo.

But, I decided to go a little further and found an article entitled, Food Storage &ndash How Long Can You Keep Fruit Cake. This link from Still Tasty (Your Ultimate Shelf Life Guide) notes that, if a few precautions are taken, fruit cake can be stored for &ldquo1 month at normal room temperature&rdquo and for &ldquo6 months in the fridge&rdquo. Regarding freezing fruit cake, it is emphasized that fruit cake &ldquowill maintain best quality for about 12 months but will remain safe beyond that time&rdquo. Still Tasty emphasizes that their &ldquofood storage information is drawn from multiple sources&rdquo, and includes &ldquoresearch conducted by US government agencies, including the USDA, the FDA, and the CDC&rdquo. Perhaps most relevant to the purposes of this story, Still Tasty emphasized that &ldquothe freezer time shown is for best quality only &ndash fruit cake that has been kept constantly frozen at 0 degrees F will keep it safe indefinitely&rdquo. So, from my perspective, the discovery of a 106-year old fruit cake in Antarctica provides no insights about the use of modern preservatives.

Moreover, as noted above, the article was entitled, &lsquoAlmost Edible&rsquo. It was also emphasized in the article that &ldquothere was a very, very slight rancid butter smell to it&rdquo. I was struck by the fact that neither of these points would compel anyone to sample this fruit cake, which made me wonder about the claim that it was &ldquowell preserved&rdquo &ndash the apparent &lsquodriver&rsquo for questions about modern preservatives. However, the reference to a &ldquorancid smell&rdquo also made me want to know what that &lsquoclue&rsquo could tell us about this fruit cake.

I discovered that rancidity is a term generally used to denote unpleasant odors and flavors in foods resulting from oils or fats being oxidized. In that regard, it is important to note that some chemical preservatives added to foods are anti-oxidants. Interestingly, appearance of a food item &ndash e.g., color or texture &ndash is not normally changed due to this deteriorative process, which would explain why the article noted that the 106-year fruit cake &ldquolooked edible&rdquo. Besides the smell, is there anything wrong with eating rancid oils? That question was addressed in a 2012 article, What's that smell? Rancid food is a waste, and potential danger. Apparently, there are at least two things wrong with eating rancid oils. First, foods contaminated with rancid oils &ldquolose their vitamins&rdquo, and second, rancid oils &ldquocan also develop potentially toxic compounds&rdquo. The bottom line is that the &ldquorancid smell&rdquo associated with the 106-year old fruit cake should be a warning against consuming it.

The last article also highlights a relatively recent trend that underscores the possibilities for unanticipated consequences associated with changing food product formulations. Specifically, the problem with foods going rancid has been compounded as a &ldquobyproduct of Americans and food manufacturers swapping trans fats for polyunsaturates in their products during the past 10 years&rdquo. This trend &ldquoresulted in a whopping 58% percent drop in trans-fatty acid consumption in the US in the past decade" but the article emphasizes, &ldquofor all of their artery blocking evil, trans fats had at least one big benefit &ndash they were very stable, meaning that they took forever to go rancid. When these fats were replaced with polyunsaturates, such as corn and soybean oil, that shelf stability collapsed Experts advise paying close attention to &lsquouse by&rsquo and &lsquosell by&rsquo dates on packages, which may have changed in recent years because of new formulations&rdquo. Of course, while it is hard to argue with the decision to &lsquocall for&rsquo a reduction in our consumption of trans fats who would have predicted the dramatic reduction in the &lsquoshelf life&rsquo of products?


How the discovery of a century-old fruit cake triggered a question about today's use of chemical preservatives

Director Michael Holsapple discusses a 106-year-old fruitcake and how it relates to today's modern food industry.

Michael Holsapple is Director of the Michigan State University (MSU) Center for Research on Ingredient Safety (CRIS) and Professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. He is also a toxicologist with over 35 years of experience.

I was asked to consider a recent article entitled, &lsquoAlmost Edible&rsquo 106-Year-Old Fruitcake Found in Antarctica, with an interesting twist. Specifically, I was asked to provide some perspective on what this discovery could mean to today&rsquos food industry &ndash e.g., here&rsquos an item that withstood the test of time without modern preservatives , so there must be some things that food companies could learn from this discovery.

In the interest of transparency, I have to disclose that I have never been a big fan of fruit cake. I attended St. Mary&rsquos Elementary School, and was taught mostly by nuns, who were (apparently) big fans of fruit cake. They would frequently give out large pieces of fruit cake for winning a spelling bee, or an arithmetic quiz. My disdain for fruit cake was sometimes so strong, that I would occasionally misspell a word, or give the wrong answer to a math problem &ndash on purpose &ndash just to avoid the prospect of receiving a piece of fruit cake.

That context is important because the picture of the century-old fruit cake didn&rsquot look any different from what I remembered about the fruit cakes of my youth. The article described this antique culinary delight as &ldquowell preserved&rdquo, and noted that it &ldquolooked and smelled edible&rdquo. Most importantly, the article underscored that &ldquothere is no doubt that the extreme cold in Antarctica has assisted its preservation&rdquo. My analysis probably could have ended there, because, I am confident that food companies are well aware that storing foods in a refrigerator or a freezer can extend their &lsquolife&rsquo.

But, I decided to go a little further and found an article entitled, Food Storage &ndash How Long Can You Keep Fruit Cake. This link from Still Tasty (Your Ultimate Shelf Life Guide) notes that, if a few precautions are taken, fruit cake can be stored for &ldquo1 month at normal room temperature&rdquo and for &ldquo6 months in the fridge&rdquo. Regarding freezing fruit cake, it is emphasized that fruit cake &ldquowill maintain best quality for about 12 months but will remain safe beyond that time&rdquo. Still Tasty emphasizes that their &ldquofood storage information is drawn from multiple sources&rdquo, and includes &ldquoresearch conducted by US government agencies, including the USDA, the FDA, and the CDC&rdquo. Perhaps most relevant to the purposes of this story, Still Tasty emphasized that &ldquothe freezer time shown is for best quality only &ndash fruit cake that has been kept constantly frozen at 0 degrees F will keep it safe indefinitely&rdquo. So, from my perspective, the discovery of a 106-year old fruit cake in Antarctica provides no insights about the use of modern preservatives.

Moreover, as noted above, the article was entitled, &lsquoAlmost Edible&rsquo. It was also emphasized in the article that &ldquothere was a very, very slight rancid butter smell to it&rdquo. I was struck by the fact that neither of these points would compel anyone to sample this fruit cake, which made me wonder about the claim that it was &ldquowell preserved&rdquo &ndash the apparent &lsquodriver&rsquo for questions about modern preservatives. However, the reference to a &ldquorancid smell&rdquo also made me want to know what that &lsquoclue&rsquo could tell us about this fruit cake.

I discovered that rancidity is a term generally used to denote unpleasant odors and flavors in foods resulting from oils or fats being oxidized. In that regard, it is important to note that some chemical preservatives added to foods are anti-oxidants. Interestingly, appearance of a food item &ndash e.g., color or texture &ndash is not normally changed due to this deteriorative process, which would explain why the article noted that the 106-year fruit cake &ldquolooked edible&rdquo. Besides the smell, is there anything wrong with eating rancid oils? That question was addressed in a 2012 article, What's that smell? Rancid food is a waste, and potential danger. Apparently, there are at least two things wrong with eating rancid oils. First, foods contaminated with rancid oils &ldquolose their vitamins&rdquo, and second, rancid oils &ldquocan also develop potentially toxic compounds&rdquo. The bottom line is that the &ldquorancid smell&rdquo associated with the 106-year old fruit cake should be a warning against consuming it.

The last article also highlights a relatively recent trend that underscores the possibilities for unanticipated consequences associated with changing food product formulations. Specifically, the problem with foods going rancid has been compounded as a &ldquobyproduct of Americans and food manufacturers swapping trans fats for polyunsaturates in their products during the past 10 years&rdquo. This trend &ldquoresulted in a whopping 58% percent drop in trans-fatty acid consumption in the US in the past decade" but the article emphasizes, &ldquofor all of their artery blocking evil, trans fats had at least one big benefit &ndash they were very stable, meaning that they took forever to go rancid. When these fats were replaced with polyunsaturates, such as corn and soybean oil, that shelf stability collapsed Experts advise paying close attention to &lsquouse by&rsquo and &lsquosell by&rsquo dates on packages, which may have changed in recent years because of new formulations&rdquo. Of course, while it is hard to argue with the decision to &lsquocall for&rsquo a reduction in our consumption of trans fats who would have predicted the dramatic reduction in the &lsquoshelf life&rsquo of products?


How the discovery of a century-old fruit cake triggered a question about today's use of chemical preservatives

Director Michael Holsapple discusses a 106-year-old fruitcake and how it relates to today's modern food industry.

Michael Holsapple is Director of the Michigan State University (MSU) Center for Research on Ingredient Safety (CRIS) and Professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. He is also a toxicologist with over 35 years of experience.

I was asked to consider a recent article entitled, &lsquoAlmost Edible&rsquo 106-Year-Old Fruitcake Found in Antarctica, with an interesting twist. Specifically, I was asked to provide some perspective on what this discovery could mean to today&rsquos food industry &ndash e.g., here&rsquos an item that withstood the test of time without modern preservatives , so there must be some things that food companies could learn from this discovery.

In the interest of transparency, I have to disclose that I have never been a big fan of fruit cake. I attended St. Mary&rsquos Elementary School, and was taught mostly by nuns, who were (apparently) big fans of fruit cake. They would frequently give out large pieces of fruit cake for winning a spelling bee, or an arithmetic quiz. My disdain for fruit cake was sometimes so strong, that I would occasionally misspell a word, or give the wrong answer to a math problem &ndash on purpose &ndash just to avoid the prospect of receiving a piece of fruit cake.

That context is important because the picture of the century-old fruit cake didn&rsquot look any different from what I remembered about the fruit cakes of my youth. The article described this antique culinary delight as &ldquowell preserved&rdquo, and noted that it &ldquolooked and smelled edible&rdquo. Most importantly, the article underscored that &ldquothere is no doubt that the extreme cold in Antarctica has assisted its preservation&rdquo. My analysis probably could have ended there, because, I am confident that food companies are well aware that storing foods in a refrigerator or a freezer can extend their &lsquolife&rsquo.

But, I decided to go a little further and found an article entitled, Food Storage &ndash How Long Can You Keep Fruit Cake. This link from Still Tasty (Your Ultimate Shelf Life Guide) notes that, if a few precautions are taken, fruit cake can be stored for &ldquo1 month at normal room temperature&rdquo and for &ldquo6 months in the fridge&rdquo. Regarding freezing fruit cake, it is emphasized that fruit cake &ldquowill maintain best quality for about 12 months but will remain safe beyond that time&rdquo. Still Tasty emphasizes that their &ldquofood storage information is drawn from multiple sources&rdquo, and includes &ldquoresearch conducted by US government agencies, including the USDA, the FDA, and the CDC&rdquo. Perhaps most relevant to the purposes of this story, Still Tasty emphasized that &ldquothe freezer time shown is for best quality only &ndash fruit cake that has been kept constantly frozen at 0 degrees F will keep it safe indefinitely&rdquo. So, from my perspective, the discovery of a 106-year old fruit cake in Antarctica provides no insights about the use of modern preservatives.

Moreover, as noted above, the article was entitled, &lsquoAlmost Edible&rsquo. It was also emphasized in the article that &ldquothere was a very, very slight rancid butter smell to it&rdquo. I was struck by the fact that neither of these points would compel anyone to sample this fruit cake, which made me wonder about the claim that it was &ldquowell preserved&rdquo &ndash the apparent &lsquodriver&rsquo for questions about modern preservatives. However, the reference to a &ldquorancid smell&rdquo also made me want to know what that &lsquoclue&rsquo could tell us about this fruit cake.

I discovered that rancidity is a term generally used to denote unpleasant odors and flavors in foods resulting from oils or fats being oxidized. In that regard, it is important to note that some chemical preservatives added to foods are anti-oxidants. Interestingly, appearance of a food item &ndash e.g., color or texture &ndash is not normally changed due to this deteriorative process, which would explain why the article noted that the 106-year fruit cake &ldquolooked edible&rdquo. Besides the smell, is there anything wrong with eating rancid oils? That question was addressed in a 2012 article, What's that smell? Rancid food is a waste, and potential danger. Apparently, there are at least two things wrong with eating rancid oils. First, foods contaminated with rancid oils &ldquolose their vitamins&rdquo, and second, rancid oils &ldquocan also develop potentially toxic compounds&rdquo. The bottom line is that the &ldquorancid smell&rdquo associated with the 106-year old fruit cake should be a warning against consuming it.

The last article also highlights a relatively recent trend that underscores the possibilities for unanticipated consequences associated with changing food product formulations. Specifically, the problem with foods going rancid has been compounded as a &ldquobyproduct of Americans and food manufacturers swapping trans fats for polyunsaturates in their products during the past 10 years&rdquo. This trend &ldquoresulted in a whopping 58% percent drop in trans-fatty acid consumption in the US in the past decade" but the article emphasizes, &ldquofor all of their artery blocking evil, trans fats had at least one big benefit &ndash they were very stable, meaning that they took forever to go rancid. When these fats were replaced with polyunsaturates, such as corn and soybean oil, that shelf stability collapsed Experts advise paying close attention to &lsquouse by&rsquo and &lsquosell by&rsquo dates on packages, which may have changed in recent years because of new formulations&rdquo. Of course, while it is hard to argue with the decision to &lsquocall for&rsquo a reduction in our consumption of trans fats who would have predicted the dramatic reduction in the &lsquoshelf life&rsquo of products?


How the discovery of a century-old fruit cake triggered a question about today's use of chemical preservatives

Director Michael Holsapple discusses a 106-year-old fruitcake and how it relates to today's modern food industry.

Michael Holsapple is Director of the Michigan State University (MSU) Center for Research on Ingredient Safety (CRIS) and Professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. He is also a toxicologist with over 35 years of experience.

I was asked to consider a recent article entitled, &lsquoAlmost Edible&rsquo 106-Year-Old Fruitcake Found in Antarctica, with an interesting twist. Specifically, I was asked to provide some perspective on what this discovery could mean to today&rsquos food industry &ndash e.g., here&rsquos an item that withstood the test of time without modern preservatives , so there must be some things that food companies could learn from this discovery.

In the interest of transparency, I have to disclose that I have never been a big fan of fruit cake. I attended St. Mary&rsquos Elementary School, and was taught mostly by nuns, who were (apparently) big fans of fruit cake. They would frequently give out large pieces of fruit cake for winning a spelling bee, or an arithmetic quiz. My disdain for fruit cake was sometimes so strong, that I would occasionally misspell a word, or give the wrong answer to a math problem &ndash on purpose &ndash just to avoid the prospect of receiving a piece of fruit cake.

That context is important because the picture of the century-old fruit cake didn&rsquot look any different from what I remembered about the fruit cakes of my youth. The article described this antique culinary delight as &ldquowell preserved&rdquo, and noted that it &ldquolooked and smelled edible&rdquo. Most importantly, the article underscored that &ldquothere is no doubt that the extreme cold in Antarctica has assisted its preservation&rdquo. My analysis probably could have ended there, because, I am confident that food companies are well aware that storing foods in a refrigerator or a freezer can extend their &lsquolife&rsquo.

But, I decided to go a little further and found an article entitled, Food Storage &ndash How Long Can You Keep Fruit Cake. This link from Still Tasty (Your Ultimate Shelf Life Guide) notes that, if a few precautions are taken, fruit cake can be stored for &ldquo1 month at normal room temperature&rdquo and for &ldquo6 months in the fridge&rdquo. Regarding freezing fruit cake, it is emphasized that fruit cake &ldquowill maintain best quality for about 12 months but will remain safe beyond that time&rdquo. Still Tasty emphasizes that their &ldquofood storage information is drawn from multiple sources&rdquo, and includes &ldquoresearch conducted by US government agencies, including the USDA, the FDA, and the CDC&rdquo. Perhaps most relevant to the purposes of this story, Still Tasty emphasized that &ldquothe freezer time shown is for best quality only &ndash fruit cake that has been kept constantly frozen at 0 degrees F will keep it safe indefinitely&rdquo. So, from my perspective, the discovery of a 106-year old fruit cake in Antarctica provides no insights about the use of modern preservatives.

Moreover, as noted above, the article was entitled, &lsquoAlmost Edible&rsquo. It was also emphasized in the article that &ldquothere was a very, very slight rancid butter smell to it&rdquo. I was struck by the fact that neither of these points would compel anyone to sample this fruit cake, which made me wonder about the claim that it was &ldquowell preserved&rdquo &ndash the apparent &lsquodriver&rsquo for questions about modern preservatives. However, the reference to a &ldquorancid smell&rdquo also made me want to know what that &lsquoclue&rsquo could tell us about this fruit cake.

I discovered that rancidity is a term generally used to denote unpleasant odors and flavors in foods resulting from oils or fats being oxidized. In that regard, it is important to note that some chemical preservatives added to foods are anti-oxidants. Interestingly, appearance of a food item &ndash e.g., color or texture &ndash is not normally changed due to this deteriorative process, which would explain why the article noted that the 106-year fruit cake &ldquolooked edible&rdquo. Besides the smell, is there anything wrong with eating rancid oils? That question was addressed in a 2012 article, What's that smell? Rancid food is a waste, and potential danger. Apparently, there are at least two things wrong with eating rancid oils. First, foods contaminated with rancid oils &ldquolose their vitamins&rdquo, and second, rancid oils &ldquocan also develop potentially toxic compounds&rdquo. The bottom line is that the &ldquorancid smell&rdquo associated with the 106-year old fruit cake should be a warning against consuming it.

The last article also highlights a relatively recent trend that underscores the possibilities for unanticipated consequences associated with changing food product formulations. Specifically, the problem with foods going rancid has been compounded as a &ldquobyproduct of Americans and food manufacturers swapping trans fats for polyunsaturates in their products during the past 10 years&rdquo. This trend &ldquoresulted in a whopping 58% percent drop in trans-fatty acid consumption in the US in the past decade" but the article emphasizes, &ldquofor all of their artery blocking evil, trans fats had at least one big benefit &ndash they were very stable, meaning that they took forever to go rancid. When these fats were replaced with polyunsaturates, such as corn and soybean oil, that shelf stability collapsed Experts advise paying close attention to &lsquouse by&rsquo and &lsquosell by&rsquo dates on packages, which may have changed in recent years because of new formulations&rdquo. Of course, while it is hard to argue with the decision to &lsquocall for&rsquo a reduction in our consumption of trans fats who would have predicted the dramatic reduction in the &lsquoshelf life&rsquo of products?


How the discovery of a century-old fruit cake triggered a question about today's use of chemical preservatives

Director Michael Holsapple discusses a 106-year-old fruitcake and how it relates to today's modern food industry.

Michael Holsapple is Director of the Michigan State University (MSU) Center for Research on Ingredient Safety (CRIS) and Professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. He is also a toxicologist with over 35 years of experience.

I was asked to consider a recent article entitled, &lsquoAlmost Edible&rsquo 106-Year-Old Fruitcake Found in Antarctica, with an interesting twist. Specifically, I was asked to provide some perspective on what this discovery could mean to today&rsquos food industry &ndash e.g., here&rsquos an item that withstood the test of time without modern preservatives , so there must be some things that food companies could learn from this discovery.

In the interest of transparency, I have to disclose that I have never been a big fan of fruit cake. I attended St. Mary&rsquos Elementary School, and was taught mostly by nuns, who were (apparently) big fans of fruit cake. They would frequently give out large pieces of fruit cake for winning a spelling bee, or an arithmetic quiz. My disdain for fruit cake was sometimes so strong, that I would occasionally misspell a word, or give the wrong answer to a math problem &ndash on purpose &ndash just to avoid the prospect of receiving a piece of fruit cake.

That context is important because the picture of the century-old fruit cake didn&rsquot look any different from what I remembered about the fruit cakes of my youth. The article described this antique culinary delight as &ldquowell preserved&rdquo, and noted that it &ldquolooked and smelled edible&rdquo. Most importantly, the article underscored that &ldquothere is no doubt that the extreme cold in Antarctica has assisted its preservation&rdquo. My analysis probably could have ended there, because, I am confident that food companies are well aware that storing foods in a refrigerator or a freezer can extend their &lsquolife&rsquo.

But, I decided to go a little further and found an article entitled, Food Storage &ndash How Long Can You Keep Fruit Cake. This link from Still Tasty (Your Ultimate Shelf Life Guide) notes that, if a few precautions are taken, fruit cake can be stored for &ldquo1 month at normal room temperature&rdquo and for &ldquo6 months in the fridge&rdquo. Regarding freezing fruit cake, it is emphasized that fruit cake &ldquowill maintain best quality for about 12 months but will remain safe beyond that time&rdquo. Still Tasty emphasizes that their &ldquofood storage information is drawn from multiple sources&rdquo, and includes &ldquoresearch conducted by US government agencies, including the USDA, the FDA, and the CDC&rdquo. Perhaps most relevant to the purposes of this story, Still Tasty emphasized that &ldquothe freezer time shown is for best quality only &ndash fruit cake that has been kept constantly frozen at 0 degrees F will keep it safe indefinitely&rdquo. So, from my perspective, the discovery of a 106-year old fruit cake in Antarctica provides no insights about the use of modern preservatives.

Moreover, as noted above, the article was entitled, &lsquoAlmost Edible&rsquo. It was also emphasized in the article that &ldquothere was a very, very slight rancid butter smell to it&rdquo. I was struck by the fact that neither of these points would compel anyone to sample this fruit cake, which made me wonder about the claim that it was &ldquowell preserved&rdquo &ndash the apparent &lsquodriver&rsquo for questions about modern preservatives. However, the reference to a &ldquorancid smell&rdquo also made me want to know what that &lsquoclue&rsquo could tell us about this fruit cake.

I discovered that rancidity is a term generally used to denote unpleasant odors and flavors in foods resulting from oils or fats being oxidized. In that regard, it is important to note that some chemical preservatives added to foods are anti-oxidants. Interestingly, appearance of a food item &ndash e.g., color or texture &ndash is not normally changed due to this deteriorative process, which would explain why the article noted that the 106-year fruit cake &ldquolooked edible&rdquo. Besides the smell, is there anything wrong with eating rancid oils? That question was addressed in a 2012 article, What's that smell? Rancid food is a waste, and potential danger. Apparently, there are at least two things wrong with eating rancid oils. First, foods contaminated with rancid oils &ldquolose their vitamins&rdquo, and second, rancid oils &ldquocan also develop potentially toxic compounds&rdquo. The bottom line is that the &ldquorancid smell&rdquo associated with the 106-year old fruit cake should be a warning against consuming it.

The last article also highlights a relatively recent trend that underscores the possibilities for unanticipated consequences associated with changing food product formulations. Specifically, the problem with foods going rancid has been compounded as a &ldquobyproduct of Americans and food manufacturers swapping trans fats for polyunsaturates in their products during the past 10 years&rdquo. This trend &ldquoresulted in a whopping 58% percent drop in trans-fatty acid consumption in the US in the past decade" but the article emphasizes, &ldquofor all of their artery blocking evil, trans fats had at least one big benefit &ndash they were very stable, meaning that they took forever to go rancid. When these fats were replaced with polyunsaturates, such as corn and soybean oil, that shelf stability collapsed Experts advise paying close attention to &lsquouse by&rsquo and &lsquosell by&rsquo dates on packages, which may have changed in recent years because of new formulations&rdquo. Of course, while it is hard to argue with the decision to &lsquocall for&rsquo a reduction in our consumption of trans fats who would have predicted the dramatic reduction in the &lsquoshelf life&rsquo of products?


How the discovery of a century-old fruit cake triggered a question about today's use of chemical preservatives

Director Michael Holsapple discusses a 106-year-old fruitcake and how it relates to today's modern food industry.

Michael Holsapple is Director of the Michigan State University (MSU) Center for Research on Ingredient Safety (CRIS) and Professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. He is also a toxicologist with over 35 years of experience.

I was asked to consider a recent article entitled, &lsquoAlmost Edible&rsquo 106-Year-Old Fruitcake Found in Antarctica, with an interesting twist. Specifically, I was asked to provide some perspective on what this discovery could mean to today&rsquos food industry &ndash e.g., here&rsquos an item that withstood the test of time without modern preservatives , so there must be some things that food companies could learn from this discovery.

In the interest of transparency, I have to disclose that I have never been a big fan of fruit cake. I attended St. Mary&rsquos Elementary School, and was taught mostly by nuns, who were (apparently) big fans of fruit cake. They would frequently give out large pieces of fruit cake for winning a spelling bee, or an arithmetic quiz. My disdain for fruit cake was sometimes so strong, that I would occasionally misspell a word, or give the wrong answer to a math problem &ndash on purpose &ndash just to avoid the prospect of receiving a piece of fruit cake.

That context is important because the picture of the century-old fruit cake didn&rsquot look any different from what I remembered about the fruit cakes of my youth. The article described this antique culinary delight as &ldquowell preserved&rdquo, and noted that it &ldquolooked and smelled edible&rdquo. Most importantly, the article underscored that &ldquothere is no doubt that the extreme cold in Antarctica has assisted its preservation&rdquo. My analysis probably could have ended there, because, I am confident that food companies are well aware that storing foods in a refrigerator or a freezer can extend their &lsquolife&rsquo.

But, I decided to go a little further and found an article entitled, Food Storage &ndash How Long Can You Keep Fruit Cake. This link from Still Tasty (Your Ultimate Shelf Life Guide) notes that, if a few precautions are taken, fruit cake can be stored for &ldquo1 month at normal room temperature&rdquo and for &ldquo6 months in the fridge&rdquo. Regarding freezing fruit cake, it is emphasized that fruit cake &ldquowill maintain best quality for about 12 months but will remain safe beyond that time&rdquo. Still Tasty emphasizes that their &ldquofood storage information is drawn from multiple sources&rdquo, and includes &ldquoresearch conducted by US government agencies, including the USDA, the FDA, and the CDC&rdquo. Perhaps most relevant to the purposes of this story, Still Tasty emphasized that &ldquothe freezer time shown is for best quality only &ndash fruit cake that has been kept constantly frozen at 0 degrees F will keep it safe indefinitely&rdquo. So, from my perspective, the discovery of a 106-year old fruit cake in Antarctica provides no insights about the use of modern preservatives.

Moreover, as noted above, the article was entitled, &lsquoAlmost Edible&rsquo. It was also emphasized in the article that &ldquothere was a very, very slight rancid butter smell to it&rdquo. I was struck by the fact that neither of these points would compel anyone to sample this fruit cake, which made me wonder about the claim that it was &ldquowell preserved&rdquo &ndash the apparent &lsquodriver&rsquo for questions about modern preservatives. However, the reference to a &ldquorancid smell&rdquo also made me want to know what that &lsquoclue&rsquo could tell us about this fruit cake.

I discovered that rancidity is a term generally used to denote unpleasant odors and flavors in foods resulting from oils or fats being oxidized. In that regard, it is important to note that some chemical preservatives added to foods are anti-oxidants. Interestingly, appearance of a food item &ndash e.g., color or texture &ndash is not normally changed due to this deteriorative process, which would explain why the article noted that the 106-year fruit cake &ldquolooked edible&rdquo. Besides the smell, is there anything wrong with eating rancid oils? That question was addressed in a 2012 article, What's that smell? Rancid food is a waste, and potential danger. Apparently, there are at least two things wrong with eating rancid oils. First, foods contaminated with rancid oils &ldquolose their vitamins&rdquo, and second, rancid oils &ldquocan also develop potentially toxic compounds&rdquo. The bottom line is that the &ldquorancid smell&rdquo associated with the 106-year old fruit cake should be a warning against consuming it.

The last article also highlights a relatively recent trend that underscores the possibilities for unanticipated consequences associated with changing food product formulations. Specifically, the problem with foods going rancid has been compounded as a &ldquobyproduct of Americans and food manufacturers swapping trans fats for polyunsaturates in their products during the past 10 years&rdquo. This trend &ldquoresulted in a whopping 58% percent drop in trans-fatty acid consumption in the US in the past decade" but the article emphasizes, &ldquofor all of their artery blocking evil, trans fats had at least one big benefit &ndash they were very stable, meaning that they took forever to go rancid. When these fats were replaced with polyunsaturates, such as corn and soybean oil, that shelf stability collapsed Experts advise paying close attention to &lsquouse by&rsquo and &lsquosell by&rsquo dates on packages, which may have changed in recent years because of new formulations&rdquo. Of course, while it is hard to argue with the decision to &lsquocall for&rsquo a reduction in our consumption of trans fats who would have predicted the dramatic reduction in the &lsquoshelf life&rsquo of products?


How the discovery of a century-old fruit cake triggered a question about today's use of chemical preservatives

Director Michael Holsapple discusses a 106-year-old fruitcake and how it relates to today's modern food industry.

Michael Holsapple is Director of the Michigan State University (MSU) Center for Research on Ingredient Safety (CRIS) and Professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. He is also a toxicologist with over 35 years of experience.

I was asked to consider a recent article entitled, &lsquoAlmost Edible&rsquo 106-Year-Old Fruitcake Found in Antarctica, with an interesting twist. Specifically, I was asked to provide some perspective on what this discovery could mean to today&rsquos food industry &ndash e.g., here&rsquos an item that withstood the test of time without modern preservatives , so there must be some things that food companies could learn from this discovery.

In the interest of transparency, I have to disclose that I have never been a big fan of fruit cake. I attended St. Mary&rsquos Elementary School, and was taught mostly by nuns, who were (apparently) big fans of fruit cake. They would frequently give out large pieces of fruit cake for winning a spelling bee, or an arithmetic quiz. My disdain for fruit cake was sometimes so strong, that I would occasionally misspell a word, or give the wrong answer to a math problem &ndash on purpose &ndash just to avoid the prospect of receiving a piece of fruit cake.

That context is important because the picture of the century-old fruit cake didn&rsquot look any different from what I remembered about the fruit cakes of my youth. The article described this antique culinary delight as &ldquowell preserved&rdquo, and noted that it &ldquolooked and smelled edible&rdquo. Most importantly, the article underscored that &ldquothere is no doubt that the extreme cold in Antarctica has assisted its preservation&rdquo. My analysis probably could have ended there, because, I am confident that food companies are well aware that storing foods in a refrigerator or a freezer can extend their &lsquolife&rsquo.

But, I decided to go a little further and found an article entitled, Food Storage &ndash How Long Can You Keep Fruit Cake. This link from Still Tasty (Your Ultimate Shelf Life Guide) notes that, if a few precautions are taken, fruit cake can be stored for &ldquo1 month at normal room temperature&rdquo and for &ldquo6 months in the fridge&rdquo. Regarding freezing fruit cake, it is emphasized that fruit cake &ldquowill maintain best quality for about 12 months but will remain safe beyond that time&rdquo. Still Tasty emphasizes that their &ldquofood storage information is drawn from multiple sources&rdquo, and includes &ldquoresearch conducted by US government agencies, including the USDA, the FDA, and the CDC&rdquo. Perhaps most relevant to the purposes of this story, Still Tasty emphasized that &ldquothe freezer time shown is for best quality only &ndash fruit cake that has been kept constantly frozen at 0 degrees F will keep it safe indefinitely&rdquo. So, from my perspective, the discovery of a 106-year old fruit cake in Antarctica provides no insights about the use of modern preservatives.

Moreover, as noted above, the article was entitled, &lsquoAlmost Edible&rsquo. It was also emphasized in the article that &ldquothere was a very, very slight rancid butter smell to it&rdquo. I was struck by the fact that neither of these points would compel anyone to sample this fruit cake, which made me wonder about the claim that it was &ldquowell preserved&rdquo &ndash the apparent &lsquodriver&rsquo for questions about modern preservatives. However, the reference to a &ldquorancid smell&rdquo also made me want to know what that &lsquoclue&rsquo could tell us about this fruit cake.

I discovered that rancidity is a term generally used to denote unpleasant odors and flavors in foods resulting from oils or fats being oxidized. In that regard, it is important to note that some chemical preservatives added to foods are anti-oxidants. Interestingly, appearance of a food item &ndash e.g., color or texture &ndash is not normally changed due to this deteriorative process, which would explain why the article noted that the 106-year fruit cake &ldquolooked edible&rdquo. Besides the smell, is there anything wrong with eating rancid oils? That question was addressed in a 2012 article, What's that smell? Rancid food is a waste, and potential danger. Apparently, there are at least two things wrong with eating rancid oils. First, foods contaminated with rancid oils &ldquolose their vitamins&rdquo, and second, rancid oils &ldquocan also develop potentially toxic compounds&rdquo. The bottom line is that the &ldquorancid smell&rdquo associated with the 106-year old fruit cake should be a warning against consuming it.

The last article also highlights a relatively recent trend that underscores the possibilities for unanticipated consequences associated with changing food product formulations. Specifically, the problem with foods going rancid has been compounded as a &ldquobyproduct of Americans and food manufacturers swapping trans fats for polyunsaturates in their products during the past 10 years&rdquo. This trend &ldquoresulted in a whopping 58% percent drop in trans-fatty acid consumption in the US in the past decade" but the article emphasizes, &ldquofor all of their artery blocking evil, trans fats had at least one big benefit &ndash they were very stable, meaning that they took forever to go rancid. When these fats were replaced with polyunsaturates, such as corn and soybean oil, that shelf stability collapsed Experts advise paying close attention to &lsquouse by&rsquo and &lsquosell by&rsquo dates on packages, which may have changed in recent years because of new formulations&rdquo. Of course, while it is hard to argue with the decision to &lsquocall for&rsquo a reduction in our consumption of trans fats who would have predicted the dramatic reduction in the &lsquoshelf life&rsquo of products?


How the discovery of a century-old fruit cake triggered a question about today's use of chemical preservatives

Director Michael Holsapple discusses a 106-year-old fruitcake and how it relates to today's modern food industry.

Michael Holsapple is Director of the Michigan State University (MSU) Center for Research on Ingredient Safety (CRIS) and Professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. He is also a toxicologist with over 35 years of experience.

I was asked to consider a recent article entitled, &lsquoAlmost Edible&rsquo 106-Year-Old Fruitcake Found in Antarctica, with an interesting twist. Specifically, I was asked to provide some perspective on what this discovery could mean to today&rsquos food industry &ndash e.g., here&rsquos an item that withstood the test of time without modern preservatives , so there must be some things that food companies could learn from this discovery.

In the interest of transparency, I have to disclose that I have never been a big fan of fruit cake. I attended St. Mary&rsquos Elementary School, and was taught mostly by nuns, who were (apparently) big fans of fruit cake. They would frequently give out large pieces of fruit cake for winning a spelling bee, or an arithmetic quiz. My disdain for fruit cake was sometimes so strong, that I would occasionally misspell a word, or give the wrong answer to a math problem &ndash on purpose &ndash just to avoid the prospect of receiving a piece of fruit cake.

That context is important because the picture of the century-old fruit cake didn&rsquot look any different from what I remembered about the fruit cakes of my youth. The article described this antique culinary delight as &ldquowell preserved&rdquo, and noted that it &ldquolooked and smelled edible&rdquo. Most importantly, the article underscored that &ldquothere is no doubt that the extreme cold in Antarctica has assisted its preservation&rdquo. My analysis probably could have ended there, because, I am confident that food companies are well aware that storing foods in a refrigerator or a freezer can extend their &lsquolife&rsquo.

But, I decided to go a little further and found an article entitled, Food Storage &ndash How Long Can You Keep Fruit Cake. This link from Still Tasty (Your Ultimate Shelf Life Guide) notes that, if a few precautions are taken, fruit cake can be stored for &ldquo1 month at normal room temperature&rdquo and for &ldquo6 months in the fridge&rdquo. Regarding freezing fruit cake, it is emphasized that fruit cake &ldquowill maintain best quality for about 12 months but will remain safe beyond that time&rdquo. Still Tasty emphasizes that their &ldquofood storage information is drawn from multiple sources&rdquo, and includes &ldquoresearch conducted by US government agencies, including the USDA, the FDA, and the CDC&rdquo. Perhaps most relevant to the purposes of this story, Still Tasty emphasized that &ldquothe freezer time shown is for best quality only &ndash fruit cake that has been kept constantly frozen at 0 degrees F will keep it safe indefinitely&rdquo. So, from my perspective, the discovery of a 106-year old fruit cake in Antarctica provides no insights about the use of modern preservatives.

Moreover, as noted above, the article was entitled, &lsquoAlmost Edible&rsquo. It was also emphasized in the article that &ldquothere was a very, very slight rancid butter smell to it&rdquo. I was struck by the fact that neither of these points would compel anyone to sample this fruit cake, which made me wonder about the claim that it was &ldquowell preserved&rdquo &ndash the apparent &lsquodriver&rsquo for questions about modern preservatives. However, the reference to a &ldquorancid smell&rdquo also made me want to know what that &lsquoclue&rsquo could tell us about this fruit cake.

I discovered that rancidity is a term generally used to denote unpleasant odors and flavors in foods resulting from oils or fats being oxidized. In that regard, it is important to note that some chemical preservatives added to foods are anti-oxidants. Interestingly, appearance of a food item &ndash e.g., color or texture &ndash is not normally changed due to this deteriorative process, which would explain why the article noted that the 106-year fruit cake &ldquolooked edible&rdquo. Besides the smell, is there anything wrong with eating rancid oils? That question was addressed in a 2012 article, What's that smell? Rancid food is a waste, and potential danger. Apparently, there are at least two things wrong with eating rancid oils. First, foods contaminated with rancid oils &ldquolose their vitamins&rdquo, and second, rancid oils &ldquocan also develop potentially toxic compounds&rdquo. The bottom line is that the &ldquorancid smell&rdquo associated with the 106-year old fruit cake should be a warning against consuming it.

The last article also highlights a relatively recent trend that underscores the possibilities for unanticipated consequences associated with changing food product formulations. Specifically, the problem with foods going rancid has been compounded as a &ldquobyproduct of Americans and food manufacturers swapping trans fats for polyunsaturates in their products during the past 10 years&rdquo. This trend &ldquoresulted in a whopping 58% percent drop in trans-fatty acid consumption in the US in the past decade" but the article emphasizes, &ldquofor all of their artery blocking evil, trans fats had at least one big benefit &ndash they were very stable, meaning that they took forever to go rancid. When these fats were replaced with polyunsaturates, such as corn and soybean oil, that shelf stability collapsed Experts advise paying close attention to &lsquouse by&rsquo and &lsquosell by&rsquo dates on packages, which may have changed in recent years because of new formulations&rdquo. Of course, while it is hard to argue with the decision to &lsquocall for&rsquo a reduction in our consumption of trans fats who would have predicted the dramatic reduction in the &lsquoshelf life&rsquo of products?


How the discovery of a century-old fruit cake triggered a question about today's use of chemical preservatives

Director Michael Holsapple discusses a 106-year-old fruitcake and how it relates to today's modern food industry.

Michael Holsapple is Director of the Michigan State University (MSU) Center for Research on Ingredient Safety (CRIS) and Professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. He is also a toxicologist with over 35 years of experience.

I was asked to consider a recent article entitled, &lsquoAlmost Edible&rsquo 106-Year-Old Fruitcake Found in Antarctica, with an interesting twist. Specifically, I was asked to provide some perspective on what this discovery could mean to today&rsquos food industry &ndash e.g., here&rsquos an item that withstood the test of time without modern preservatives , so there must be some things that food companies could learn from this discovery.

In the interest of transparency, I have to disclose that I have never been a big fan of fruit cake. I attended St. Mary&rsquos Elementary School, and was taught mostly by nuns, who were (apparently) big fans of fruit cake. They would frequently give out large pieces of fruit cake for winning a spelling bee, or an arithmetic quiz. My disdain for fruit cake was sometimes so strong, that I would occasionally misspell a word, or give the wrong answer to a math problem &ndash on purpose &ndash just to avoid the prospect of receiving a piece of fruit cake.

That context is important because the picture of the century-old fruit cake didn&rsquot look any different from what I remembered about the fruit cakes of my youth. The article described this antique culinary delight as &ldquowell preserved&rdquo, and noted that it &ldquolooked and smelled edible&rdquo. Most importantly, the article underscored that &ldquothere is no doubt that the extreme cold in Antarctica has assisted its preservation&rdquo. My analysis probably could have ended there, because, I am confident that food companies are well aware that storing foods in a refrigerator or a freezer can extend their &lsquolife&rsquo.

But, I decided to go a little further and found an article entitled, Food Storage &ndash How Long Can You Keep Fruit Cake. This link from Still Tasty (Your Ultimate Shelf Life Guide) notes that, if a few precautions are taken, fruit cake can be stored for &ldquo1 month at normal room temperature&rdquo and for &ldquo6 months in the fridge&rdquo. Regarding freezing fruit cake, it is emphasized that fruit cake &ldquowill maintain best quality for about 12 months but will remain safe beyond that time&rdquo. Still Tasty emphasizes that their &ldquofood storage information is drawn from multiple sources&rdquo, and includes &ldquoresearch conducted by US government agencies, including the USDA, the FDA, and the CDC&rdquo. Perhaps most relevant to the purposes of this story, Still Tasty emphasized that &ldquothe freezer time shown is for best quality only &ndash fruit cake that has been kept constantly frozen at 0 degrees F will keep it safe indefinitely&rdquo. So, from my perspective, the discovery of a 106-year old fruit cake in Antarctica provides no insights about the use of modern preservatives.

Moreover, as noted above, the article was entitled, &lsquoAlmost Edible&rsquo. It was also emphasized in the article that &ldquothere was a very, very slight rancid butter smell to it&rdquo. I was struck by the fact that neither of these points would compel anyone to sample this fruit cake, which made me wonder about the claim that it was &ldquowell preserved&rdquo &ndash the apparent &lsquodriver&rsquo for questions about modern preservatives. However, the reference to a &ldquorancid smell&rdquo also made me want to know what that &lsquoclue&rsquo could tell us about this fruit cake.

I discovered that rancidity is a term generally used to denote unpleasant odors and flavors in foods resulting from oils or fats being oxidized. In that regard, it is important to note that some chemical preservatives added to foods are anti-oxidants. Interestingly, appearance of a food item &ndash e.g., color or texture &ndash is not normally changed due to this deteriorative process, which would explain why the article noted that the 106-year fruit cake &ldquolooked edible&rdquo. Besides the smell, is there anything wrong with eating rancid oils? That question was addressed in a 2012 article, What's that smell? Rancid food is a waste, and potential danger. Apparently, there are at least two things wrong with eating rancid oils. First, foods contaminated with rancid oils &ldquolose their vitamins&rdquo, and second, rancid oils &ldquocan also develop potentially toxic compounds&rdquo. The bottom line is that the &ldquorancid smell&rdquo associated with the 106-year old fruit cake should be a warning against consuming it.

The last article also highlights a relatively recent trend that underscores the possibilities for unanticipated consequences associated with changing food product formulations. Specifically, the problem with foods going rancid has been compounded as a &ldquobyproduct of Americans and food manufacturers swapping trans fats for polyunsaturates in their products during the past 10 years&rdquo. This trend &ldquoresulted in a whopping 58% percent drop in trans-fatty acid consumption in the US in the past decade" but the article emphasizes, &ldquofor all of their artery blocking evil, trans fats had at least one big benefit &ndash they were very stable, meaning that they took forever to go rancid. When these fats were replaced with polyunsaturates, such as corn and soybean oil, that shelf stability collapsed Experts advise paying close attention to &lsquouse by&rsquo and &lsquosell by&rsquo dates on packages, which may have changed in recent years because of new formulations&rdquo. Of course, while it is hard to argue with the decision to &lsquocall for&rsquo a reduction in our consumption of trans fats who would have predicted the dramatic reduction in the &lsquoshelf life&rsquo of products?


Watch the video: Frozen foods: Would you eat this 106-year-old fruit cake from Antarctica?