First, a bit of backstory: For quite some time, we had wanted to review these dumplings for this project, since they are from a brand of pre-made, vegetarian Chinese food sold in many bodegas and groceries around town.
We were going to pick up some of the line’s dumplings earlier Tuesday night, but then we had an even better idea: In light of quasi-recent food-poisoning outbreaks, some of which were associated with pre-packed picks, why not see whether these things stand the test of time — are they as fresh and eater-friendly at 4 a.m. as they are at noon or dinnertime?
Now, we’re not going to name the company or the grocery — there’s no way to get comment at this hour and, for lack of better words, we’re not going to shit on someone we don’t know for something that could easily be a fluke. (If we had gotten sick rather than just really grossed out, though, we’d obviously give this information.)
However, we made sure to reveal enough info so that you will be able to ID these things if you come across them — and proceed carefully.
That said: These dumplings were really, really spoiled (pre-fizz, it seems), and the company and grocery should not be selling them.
The filling wasn’t just cabbage-sour or even kimchi-acrid — it had actually gone bad by the the time of purchase. We’re not going to conflate spoilage bacteria with sick-making pathogens (there generally is a difference), but the point is that the risk of certain infectious agents does increase when food has been around too long — so it just should not be consumed.
Now, you might say: You checked out these things at 4 a.m. — obviously, they’re not going to be fresh, it’s EZ [sic] to attack something you know is going to be bad, bla bla bla, etcetera etcetera.
However easy it might be to say that, either the grocery or the company — whoever is responsible — cannot just be let off the hook.
For starters, they were purchased at a 24-hour grocery — as they commonly can be. Also, this venue features operational steam tables and cold deli items at all hours, which would suggest that the management intends to sell edible products no matter the time of day or night. (Note: In my experience, the items in the behind-the-counter steam tables will not be refilled at off hours if they are sold out, but it looks like purchases can be made until that occurs.)
If it’s not the supermarket’s fault, though, we can look to the dumpling makers, who could be doing something wrong in prep, packaging, transport, or storage. Again, one batch of bad dumplings does not mean the whole operation is bad or dangerous, etc., but it does put to question how well food is being handled at some point during the process — and this shouldn’t be up in the air. You should feel safe about the snacks you put in your stomach, that’s all.
So yes. Long story short: Be careful with these things!
Follow Victoria Bekiempis @vicbekiempis.