Photo by loop_oh/Flickr CC
Paul Wachter's interesting story about the strange twin pull dates for milk in New York City--one for the city, one for everyplace outside it--brings up a point beyond just how special we all know New York to be. Wachter wonders why the city hasn't changed a rule it began in 1959, which although modified still holds: milk sold in the city is marked with a sell-by date nine days after it is pasteurized, versus an average of 11 to 12 days in the rest of the country. He quotes milk producers who say that their own "stress tests" show that their milk lasts 15 to 21 days after pasteurization. New York dairy owners tell him that the shorter city shelf life has no basis in the facts they see on their delivery routes: the containers don't wait around longer on city streets than they do in supermarket parking lots before being transferred to refrigerators; the shorter pull date uselessly drives up production and shipping costs, and thus the price New Yorkers pay for milk. They and Wachter suggest that the city consider a rethinking of the rule on its 50th anniversary.
Still, Wachter admits that the milk he buys in New York does seem to go bad faster than the milk of his South Carolina childhood, and wonders whether the reason could be that city convenience stores don't observe the rule to store milk in refrigerated cases 45 degrees and under: many of those cases, as anyone in New York knows, are barely covered with clear plastic strips or are practically in the open.