Grandma Serves Expired Hot Cocoa & Everyone Ends Up in the Hospital

hot cocoaWhat could be sweeter than some nice, hot cocoa served up with by your grandma? Nothing at all ... unless that cocoa happens to be over 25 years old. One well-meaning grandmother is in hot water after serving her family hot chocolate from long-expired packets and landing them in the hospital.


All 77-year-old Mrs. Rosetta wanted to do was serve her two grandchildren, their friend, her son, and her partner a treat. She happened to find some old cocoa packets in her cabinet and mixed them with milk. Alas, she did not read the expiration dates on those packets. They read 5 June 1990. In fact, Rosetta bought the packets a few years earlier, back in the 1980s.

Just to give you an idea, 1990 was when Margaret Thatcher resigned as British Prime Minister. The Simpsons aired for the first time. The Berlin Wall was coming down, and we were listening to Tears for Fears, Depeche Mode, and Phil Collins. (Some of us still are.)

But back to the cocoa poisoning, fortunately no one died but they did get horribly sick. Everyone was hospitalized with food poisoning symptoms and one grandchild was there for three weeks. So this was a fairly serious matter.

They may even press charges against Granny!

That seems a bit extreme, if you ask me. It was just one of those mistakes people make. We all have old stuff in our cupboards, and it's easy to underestimate its age. Just the other day I threw out some old cereal which I thought it was a few months old. It was actually a year and a half old.

And you wouldn't think dry goods like cocoa powder would spoil, but it's still food. I think most of us would think twice about using something dusty and ancient looking from the back of the cupboard. But I can totally see my grandma using it anyway. I mean, you survive the depression and it kind of makes you incapable of throwing away food, ever.

In fact, according to safety organization NSF International, older people are more likely to hold onto food past the date on the label, whether it's past the expiration date, sell-by date, or best-used-by date. It's kind of a dangerous habit, as you can imagine!

So just a reminder: Beware of the old stuff lurking in your pantry. And remind your own grandma! Maybe some spring cleaning -- and tossing -- is in order.

Do you have old dry goods hiding in your cabinets?


Image via Elena Shashkina/Shutterstock

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