As discussed on meta.stackoverflow, we may soon have a few custom close reasons, in addition to all the canned ones. A short summary of the setup we'll be looking at:

  • "unclear what you're asking", "too broad", and "primarily opinion-based" will replace "not a real question" and "not constructive".
  • "too localized" will go away.
  • "off topic" will have up to three pre-selected off-topic reasons, and also allow entering a free-form reason when you vote to close.

What are our pre-selected off-topic reasons? From the announcement: "These lists will be determined by the communities, and moderators will be able to update them, subject to review by each other, their community, and the SE team."

So, community, what'll it be? Keep in mind that we do still have unclear/broad/subjective reasons, so we don't necessarily need a custom reason for every category of commonly-closed question.

And for reference, here's a sampling of questions recently closed as off-topic or too localized.

5 Answers 5


My list would be similar to Jefromi's but with a few important differences. Here is my list, with explanations and rationale:

General Food Question

Seasoned Advice is a site for culinary Q&A. We expect questions here to relate to some aspect of cooking or food preparation. This question appears to be about some other aspect of food, such as eating or shopping, which is not a good fit for our site.

Alternative Wording:

Food Sourcing and Consumption

This question falls into one of the general categories of finding, selecting, or eating food. We expect questions on Seasoned Advice to have a culinary focus, i.e. to be about cooking or preparing food or a directly-related topic such as kitchen equipment or food science.

This doesn't cover quite as many off-topic scenarios as I'd like, but it has the benefit of being clearer and less open to abuse.

Recipe Request or Poll

While we allow some questions related to recipe modification or "repair", this question is worded as a broad request for recipes or variations on a recipe, and is therefore a better candidate for a recipe search engine such as AllRecipes or SuperCook.

Health or Nutrition Focused

This question is requesting dietary recommendations which tend to be situational, subjective, unreliable, controversial, or all of the above. Our community is usually happy to answer questions about food safety or about nutrition as it relates to a specific cooking objective (for example, low-fat/low-carb substitutions in a recipe); however, questions about what to eat should be referred to a dietitian or other health professional.

I think "sourcing" is probably covered under "general food question".

I've tried a few times to think up a good close reason/explanation for the neverending stream of "I left this slab of beef out on the counter for 12 years, can I still eat it?" questions, but haven't yet come up with an adequate catch-all explanation that's valid for all the questions we'd want to use it to close. Despite that, I'm going to try to keep thinking of one because IMO the situation with those questions on our site is far worse than simple duplication, and (again IMO) they should be as easy to close as possible without having to go find the original all the time.

P.S. The headings above are not part of the close reason! They are only there for the benefit of easy categorization in this discussion. The new close reasons will not have individual headings, they will all be a subcategory of "off topic". Here is what the screen currently looks like on Meta Stack Overflow:

New Off-Topic Screen

P.P.S. I put together an infographic to describe what we seem to generally agree (I think) as being the site's scope:

Seasoned Advice Scope

This illustrates - very coarsely - the different stages of a meal, from inception all the way to consumption.

The "execution" is obviously our sweet spot, it's where we want and expect to get most of our questions. Then there are some adjacent, fuzzier areas where questions might be off-topic, but wouldn't be off-topic on general principle - it would be more of an "is this interesting or relevant to culinary professionals/enthusiasts?" test.

But the gray bubbles are off-topic on general principle and should almost always be closed. So with my 3 reasons, I'm trying to cover everything outside the dotted lines, while still hinting that not everything inside them is actually on topic.

Another approach could be to focus entirely on what's explicitly outside the boundary, and use the "freeform" close reasons for anything we catch inside. That might be clearer, hence my alternate wording of "food sourcing and consumption" above.

  • While I agree that sourcing would be subsumed under "general food question", I think it comes up enough that it merits its own category, simply to provide better feedback the poster.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Commented Jun 14, 2013 at 2:57
  • @SAJ14SAJ We've only got three spots, so given that we want one for health/nutrition, and one for recipe requests and friends, if we want anything else to be covered, it has to either merge with or displace sourcing. And I think I in general like this "non-culinary food question" idea, though it could be a bit confusing to those not in the know - and we have to be really, really careful to define it well so it's not misused. We don't want to accidentally declare questions off-topic.
    – Cascabel Mod
    Commented Jun 14, 2013 at 3:18
  • With respect to "recipe poll", I think we need to be careful to sneak menu planning and probably culinary uses into there. Otherwise we're back in the business of manually typing out close reasons for some of our most common questions. (Also, a little nit: putting "poll" in the title is iffy, because it makes sense to us but not as much to new users, who probably didn't think of it as a poll.)
    – Cascabel Mod
    Commented Jun 14, 2013 at 3:23
  • @Jefromi I was not aware we were only allowed three spots. I have provided an answer to make suggestions to improve the "Food Related Question" reason which don't really fit in a comment.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Commented Jun 14, 2013 at 3:26
  • @Jefromi, with respect to "manually typing out close reasons", there's no reason that the radio-button options can't be supplemented by a meta-thread which contains copy-pastable text, similar to meta.math.stackexchange.com/q/4925/5676 Commented Jun 14, 2013 at 10:54
  • @PeterTaylor Sure, there are workarounds - but it's clearly better to have something in the UI than in a meta thread many people won't know about, and this is our chance to make that happen.
    – Cascabel Mod
    Commented Jun 14, 2013 at 15:14
  • 1
    @Jefromi: Regarding your comment about menu planning and culinary uses: Menu planning is a delicate one, not all menu planning questions are off topic, and the ones that are probably fall into "general food". Culinary uses, I think, are covered by "variations on a recipe", but if you can think of an alternate/additional wording for it, I'm open to ideas.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Jun 14, 2013 at 23:10
  • Nice diagram. Serving might be on topic, but it is troublesome because it is hard to ask an answerable question that isn't a poll on presentation or pairing.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Commented Jun 15, 2013 at 16:28
  • @SAJ14SAJ: Indeed, that's why I gave it the dim colour. It's similar with recipe evaluation; there's a very subtle but very important difference between "what's a good recipe for pumpkin pie" and "how do I know which of these 3 pumpkin pie recipes won't crack or fall apart?" Anything outside "Execution" is definitely a danger area for us... but we do accept some questions, as everybody will be quick to point out. :)
    – Aaronut
    Commented Jun 15, 2013 at 16:59
  • Though we don't get headings for the close reasons, we can bold parts of them, something like what I edited in.
    – Cascabel Mod
    Commented Jun 17, 2013 at 22:25
  • I'm liking the "general" category more and more as we refine it, but I have to say, I think it's still prone to misuse - someone could easily read it (or even look at that wonderful diagram) and say, aha, "how do I pick a ripe watermelon" is off topic. Maybe it'd be sufficient to link to a longer explanation/help page, which specifically mentions the categories of questions we do like? (Discuss a slight widening of scope to make it a non-issue?)
    – Cascabel Mod
    Commented Jun 17, 2013 at 22:29
  • @Jefromi: "How do I pick a ripe melon" clearly falls under the "ingredient evaluation" category, which is one of the mostly-on-topic categories. However, "where can I buy melons" is definitely in the sourcing/shopping category, as is "what can I make with a melon", and "how do I eat a melon" is off-topic at the other end of the spectrum. But yes, regardless, I think we would definitely need meta pages expanding on the custom close reasons - no matter how clear-cut we think they are, people will find fringe cases or outright loopholes.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Jun 17, 2013 at 23:45
  • @Aaronut Okay, sure - my point was just that the obvious first thought is that shopping (off-topic) includes ingredient evaluation. Definitely agree about help/meta explanations - we might also want to move the "other resources" type stuff there, so that it can be community-maintained. (Avoids us having a semi-official endorsement of specific recipe sites, too.)
    – Cascabel Mod
    Commented Jun 18, 2013 at 0:15

FYI: Aaronut's answer contains full descriptions, essentially matching these. Think of this answer more as background, demonstrating why something like these should be our top three choices.

My suggestions (full descriptions to be determined):

  • Health/nutrition
  • Recipe/menu requests - "a recipe for X", "what's for dinner", "dishes using X" (culinary uses)
  • possibly: Sourcing - "where can I buy X?"

Sourcing is less common, so if someone comes up with another category, or wants to split culinary uses away from recipe requests, that's the one that could be removed. It's also a little dodgy - we don't have complete consensus on exactly which sourcing questions to allow, and making a category for it might encourage people to simply throw all such questions out, which probably isn't what we want.


I went through the first 50 questions from the query above. Many of them fit into common categories:

  • 13 recipe/menu requests (including broad things like creating meal plans)
  • 17 health/nutrition questions
  • 5 culinary uses questions
  • 4 sourcing questions (where can I buy X - one was equipment, not food)
  • 3 too localized food safety questions (very specific situations)

The questions that didn't fit into those categories, turned into concise statements:

  • Why do humans drink milk as adults?
  • What's a good phone recipe app?
  • Where can I find this person called "Doctor Toffee"?
  • How do I tell if a vegetable is organic?
  • How do I store cannabis butter?
  • Is this brand of whiskey from Iraq?
  • Why won't my iSi whipper release? (it actually wasn't charged)
  • How do I save my cookie dough? (the recipe was bad)
  • Why does food taste bland when we're sick?
  • What can I use to decorate dog biscuits?
  • How do I get rid of odd fridge smell? (mixing odors, not old fridge smell)
  • Can I install a commercial oven in my house?
  • How do I tell what size a folded tablecloth is?

Some of those questions could probably have been saved - for example, saving cookie dough which turned out to be a bad recipe could've just been edited into "why didn't this cookie dough work?" But in any case, there doesn't seem to be enough of an overarching theme to create another category from.

The specific food safety questions don't really merit a custom close reason. (Plus, they can probably be instead closed as duplicates of a more generic question, though this may need to be created out of what's now in the food-safety tag wiki.) So the main categories are recipe/menu requests, culinary uses, health/nutrition, and sourcing. Culinary use questions are very similar to recipe/menu requests, so they seem reasonable to group together and make room for another reason. Not coincidentally, this lines up fairly well with our faq, with the addition of shopping questions!


I am uncomfortable with the proposed category:

General Food Question

Seasoned Advice is a site for culinary Q&A. We expect questions here to relate to some aspect of cooking or food preparation. This question appears to be about some other aspect of food, such as eating or shopping, which is not a good fit for our site.


This would really be our default food-related, but still off-topic category, which is hard to come up with a neat label for. I would update the description as shown here, but I am at a loss as to what to label it to make it clear. Since I am in healthcare, I want to use the prefix "peri" which means surrounding or related, as in "Peri-Food Question" but that won't be clear to most readers.

Suggested Rephrasing

Peri-Food Question [Temporary heading pending a better suggestion]

Seasoned Advice is a site for culinary Q&A. We expect questions here to relate to some aspect of cooking or food preparation, including:

  • Methods or techniques of food preparation or cooking
  • Science behind food or cooking
  • Objective food facts related to the actual qualities or properties of foods
  • Equipment used in food preparation or cooking
  • History and culture of food and cooking

This question appears to be about some other aspect of food, such as eating or shopping, which is not a good fit for our site.


I don't think the original was phrased to properly express the actual intent.

We specifically allow questions on equipment, and from previous meta discussion, on culinary or food history or anthropology.

In addition to those categories, here are some sample questions I think could be interpreted to fall into the Food Related Question category under the original phrasing above, all from the top active questions pages at the time of this meta:

  • Another way of thinking about it: we have a loose definition of culinary. Names of dishes, comparisons of ingredients, and even food history are all things that can help you in the kitchen in some way. But I might be starting to agree with you that a "general" category is too open to abuse - it might be even worse than "too localized"! Knowing where to find something would also help you in the kitchen in a way; how exactly do we say that it's a general non-culinary question, while these other things aren't? (As bad as "too localized" was, we may be getting burned by its removal...)
    – Cascabel Mod
    Commented Jun 14, 2013 at 3:32
  • In the original meta thread, one of the reasons for eliminating off-topic and introducing these custom reasons was to avoid the "whitelist" approach and specifically tell people why their question was off-topic. Although I think your bullet list is a good one, it may be taking us in the wrong direction.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Jun 15, 2013 at 14:27
  • Your bullets 1, 2, and 4 are all "some aspect of cooking/food prep". #3 overlaps significantly with food science (#2 - for example, the caffeine one) but also includes a lot of crappy dictionary questions, so I think we can exclude that. And #5 is a special case and a very borderline one at that. I don't know if "general" is the best word, but as you concede, "peri" isn't going to be understood by anyone, and anyway isn't really a precise explanation. We want to identify what the off-topic question is, not what it isn't.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Jun 15, 2013 at 14:29
  • Keep in mind that the new close reasons aren't supposed to individually define the scope of the entire site. For example, two of the reasons proposed for Super User were "Not about computer hardware" and "Not about computer software". Those don't collectively mean that all questions on the site must be about either computer hardware or computer software, just that questions about other types of hardware or software are off-topic. That's the same sort of thing I'm trying to accomplish here. Sure, we accept a small range of non-culinary questions, but mostly we are a cooking site.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Jun 15, 2013 at 14:31
  • Redundancy and overlap in definition are not bad when they lead to clarity and understanding. "Including" implies non-exclusivity, and these are meant as examples for clarity.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Commented Jun 15, 2013 at 14:37
  • Anyway, if we are going to expand the close reason, I would prefer to see a longer list of the subjects that are off topic, rather than on topic. For example: Dining, etiquette, meal selection, shopping, growing/gardening, foraging, law/regulations, etc. Again, the goal is to classify what the question is, and why that's off-topic; in our case that is fundamentally "food from a non-cook's point of view". Sort of like the Super User to our Stack Overflow.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Jun 15, 2013 at 14:45
  • Idea: What do you think about "food consumption" or "food sourcing and consumption" as the general category? That encompasses a lot of what's above. Not all, but at least the most frequent/flagrant offenders. I added an alternative wording based on this in my answer.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Jun 15, 2013 at 14:59
  • You might be onto something there--might want to expand in an update to your answer, or an additional one. The key insight seems to be "not from a cooks point of view." Shopping is not fundamentally a cook's activity.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Commented Jun 15, 2013 at 15:34
  • @SAJ14SAJ Yes, I usually make my food from scratch, without purchasing ingredients... I think I know what you're trying to say, but I don't think it's an intuitive distinction, especially since ingredient selection (how to pick something out while shopping, essentially) has always been happily on topic.
    – Cascabel Mod
    Commented Jun 15, 2013 at 15:48
  • Other examples of things which apparently are cook's activities (since they're on topic): food storage, equipment selection and maintenance, some aspects of cleaning... The way I see it, the general idea is that food goes from agriculture to kitchens to eating, and we're saying we're about the middle bit, and trying to draw lines separating it from the other sides. I think it's a mistake to assume that simply by saying "cook/non-cook's point of view" the lines immediately become clear. Maybe some of the choices have to be arbitrary, but if so, we should at least admit that to ourselves.
    – Cascabel Mod
    Commented Jun 15, 2013 at 16:02
  • I should probably have mentioned somewhere that these reasons are limited to 400 characters and offer the same formatting syntax as comments - so, no gigantic bullet lists.
    – Shog9
    Commented Jun 24, 2013 at 3:33

I am unhappy with the current situation of "I left my food out, is it safe to eat" questions. The closing as a duplicate after the first canonical question was created reduced the influx, but they did not disappear, and currently they seem to be on the rise.

These questions are not good for us. Our site is created to cater for people trying to reach a rational decision after weighing the relevant information. These questions do not come from people trying to make a rational decision, so our system fails in handling them. We should close them before they do damage to the OP, to our community and to our signal-to-noise ratio.

Neither answering them nor closing them as duplicates is a good solution. They require a very general rule to be applied in a uniform manner to a specific case (which interests nobody but the asker). Imagine if math.stackexchange was flooded by questions asking "How much is 4 + 7", "How much is 9 + 3" and so on. It is ridiculous to answer them all. On the other hand, they are not really a duplicate of the canonical questions we created. The canonical questions describe a rule, but an one can only arrive at the answer of the specific questions after applying the rule.

What we want to do with our site is help people solve a problem. Is the OP's problem "I don't know how to correctly store food"? The wording of most of them leads me to believe that it isn't. They tend to recognize that they did something wrong when they forgot their groceries overnight in the car. Their problem is not missing knowledge, it is cognitive dissonance. "I want to eat this, because [I spent so much money on it | I feel that the normal food safety rules are too paranoid | I don't believe I will get sick if I eat it ], but I am aware that I hurt the rules of proper storage. Please give me absolution and tell me that I may eat it." We cannot solve this problem by linking to a rule which says "if you did not store it like this, throw it out". First, the people who ask already seem to know that their practice is unsafe (we could only once or twice confirm that the food is within limits). Second, I doubt that they have the motivation to read through a long explanation which requires interpretation for their special case - humans are known for muddling through, confirmation bias, and other tendencies which would make them avoid reading the question to which we sent them.

The way I have been handling this until now was to close the question with a link to the canonical one, but also clearly give the actual answer ("No, it is not safe, throw it out") in the comment I leave before closing. I am not sure that this is helping the OP; I am sure that closing the question without such a mention will not help any. When they are looking for an explanation for their feeling that their case is an exception to the rule, citing the rule at them again does not change their feeling. These questions don't help the next asker, because they again feel that their situation is special. Anybody thought about how these first-time posters find our site? I just googled "I left meat out is it still good", and we are the third hit, with the question Why is it dangerous to eat meat which has been left out and then cooked?. If these people find this (or one of the old closed questions) with their search and still ask their own question, then they obviously won't change their opinion after seeing the old closed questions and the answer leading to the canonical question. And of course, these questions do not have value for us who handle them. They are just annoying. And at last, if we don't close the questions quickly enough, there is the chance that somebody will answer on the lines of "I ate stinky meat once and nothing happened, you will be alright", which is dangerous.

So I agree with Aaronut that the current situation of closing them as duplicates does not work well, and that a custom closing reason is the next best thing. We could word the reason for example as

Unsafe food storage - This question concerns the safety 
of consuming food which the OP thinks has been stored 
unsafely. We take it as undebatable fact that food which has been stored 
under improper conditions should be discarded. The rules under which food 
is considered properly stored are determined by legislature; we have a 
short write-up here<links to our canonical questions>. 

This requires the same amount of work for closing per question. But it tells the guilty OP seeking absolution that he/she won't find it here. It still contains the link to proper food safety instructions for those who want to read them. And it removes the ambiguity of closing them as duplicates. I hope that in the future, people who find a question closed with such a text will be more likely to refrain from posting a new question.

  • There's a bit of a false premise behind your and Aaronut's claim that closing as duplicate isn't good enough - we have not actually been closing them as duplicates. Some, sure, but a lot just get new answers. There's always this "the other questions aren't exactly the same" and "we close too slowly before answers appear" and "no one can find the old questions." That's why SAJ14SAJ and I went and created this question.
    – Cascabel Mod
    Commented Jun 20, 2013 at 17:24
  • The users asking these questions are generally new users, so the manner of closing of past questions isn't really going to influence them anyway. But if we really don't like closing as duplicate of something which does essentially answer the question, then we should just start closing them as subjective/opinion-based. That's what you're really saying here - they don't want the safety facts, they want someone to agree with an opinion ("it's not that risky").
    – Cascabel Mod
    Commented Jun 20, 2013 at 17:26
  • 2
    Not closing them at all is even worse than closing them as duplicates, because it does not teach the next one who finds us that asking is pointless. As for closing them as "subjective", I don't think this is a good idea. First, if we started "safe" as a matter of personal opinion (and I agree that it can be defined this way), we should start closing everything falling under the food safety tag. I think that it is better if we stay with the definition of "publicly declared safe", which is not a matter of opinion.
    – rumtscho Mod
    Commented Jun 20, 2013 at 17:34
  • @jefromi Second, I think that the new askers read the closing banner under their question, and that they try to make sense out of it. "We closed your question because it is subjective" is not terribly meaningful to the confirmation-seeking asker, and does not remind them that there should be no exceptions if they actually want to be safe. Also, for the genuine information-seeking asker, it does not provide a link to the source of good information, which currently is the canonical question sajsaj and you wrote, as well as the older one by derobert.
    – rumtscho Mod
    Commented Jun 20, 2013 at 17:38
  • Finally, the other custom closing reasons can be covered by the general ones as well. "Give me a recipe" questions are poll questions. "Is X healthy to eat" are subjective questions. We are still trying to create more specific reasons for very common problem patterns because this gives a better guidance to both the users who close and the ones whose questions get closed. I think that this type of question is common enough to merit its own close reason.
    – rumtscho Mod
    Commented Jun 20, 2013 at 17:44
  • Er, I'm advocating closing as duplicate, and I never suggested not closing at all. I'm saying that we already have the best possible close reason: this is something that's been asked and answered already; here's the information. This is much better than saying "this is straight-up off-topic, and let me add a comment to point you to the canonical question."
    – Cascabel Mod
    Commented Jun 20, 2013 at 17:45
  • @Jefromi and my opinion is that "I left an unopened brie cheese out last night, is it safe to eat?" is not a real duplicate of the canonical question, but at the same time, it is not a question I want to leave open. So I closed it as a duplicate, but I feel that closing it with a custom reason would have been better. General rules are not the same thing as the application of those rules, even if the application can be used to arrive at an answer, so I am afraid that the message of closing as a duplicate is misleading.
    – rumtscho Mod
    Commented Jun 20, 2013 at 17:53
  • The key problem here is that we are only allotted 3 custom reasons. On the other hand, there are only about 5 or 8 of us who are terribly active in policing new questions. If we agree to use the free text, add specific comment, and link the canonical question, perhaps that will meet both sets of needs?
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Commented Jun 20, 2013 at 19:09
  • Okay, so we all want the questions closed, and we want it to be in a way that's helpful to the OP if possible. Many of them are actually too narrow (too localized) but we won't have that anymore. Many of them are, effectively, duplicates of a canonical. Yes, I know they're more specific versions, and maybe we need a couple more canonicals - but there's a long tradition (including on SO) of using duplicates like that. The final alternative is to declare some food safety questions off topic (the specific ones) and others on topic - and that's what rubs me the wrong way.
    – Cascabel Mod
    Commented Jun 20, 2013 at 22:02
  • And no, we can't just say we're declaring the opinionated ones off-topic, because obviously they could just be asked/edited into the non-opinionated form, and we'd be back to the same problem.
    – Cascabel Mod
    Commented Jun 20, 2013 at 22:02
  • 1
    SAJ14SAJ made a good point, though - setting aside the issue of declaring these quesitons off topic instead of using the built-in mechanism to refer to another question for an answer, we only have three spots. The dubious food safety questions accounted for 3/50 of my sample, compared to 17/50 health/nutrition, 18/50 recipes/culinary uses, and depending on how you count, at least 11 food-related-but-not-cooking.
    – Cascabel Mod
    Commented Jun 20, 2013 at 22:38
  • As much as I hate these questions, I think I agree with @Jefromi; they seem more prevalent and annoying because they all follow almost exactly the same format. But in terms of sheer numbers, they don't appear as frequently as other off-topic questions. I really wish they hadn't taken away the Too Localized reason. But we can still close them as dupes, and another thing we can do that we haven't really done is start deleting a lot of the old ones. This is one case where keeping the duplicates around really isn't useful.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Jun 21, 2013 at 0:24
  • @Aaronut Why are they less useful than other duplicates? Like others, they still potentially provide information - for non logged in users they redirect to the canonicals (good for search engines?) and for logged in ones it leaves a question they can search for within the site. The general policy has always been to leave duplicates undeleted to provide those breadcrumbs, right? If we're not sure we should discuss in another question. (Old meta SO post: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/32311 and on english from shog9: meta.english.stackexchange.com/questions/2162)
    – Cascabel Mod
    Commented Jun 21, 2013 at 0:51
  • 1
    @Jefromi: Having a few duplicates is fine. Having hundreds of instances of fundamentally the same question with nearly-identical wording is just broken windows. The reason to keep duplicates is to improve searchability, but I don't see us gaining any particular advantage in that area with the specific kind of duplication we have.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Jun 22, 2013 at 2:45

Picking and choosing between the options already presented,

recipe request

While we allow some questions related to recipe modification or "repair", this question is worded as a broad request for recipes or variations on a recipe, and is therefore a better candidate for a recipe search engine such as AllRecipes or SuperCook.

Aaronut's text except I prefer to drop "or Poll" from the heading. The existing "not constructive" close-reason already mentions polling so let's not create any potential for ambiguity.

peripheral question

Seasoned Advice is a site for culinary Q&A. We expect questions here to relate to some aspect of cooking or food preparation, including:

  • Methods or techniques of food preparation or cooking
  • Science behind food or cooking
  • Objective food facts related to the actual qualities or properties of foods
  • Equipment used in food preparation or cooking
  • History and culture of food and cooking

This question appears to be about some other aspect of food, such as eating, shopping, nutritional value or some other health consideration, which is not a good fit for our site.

Mostly SAJ14SAJ's text with suggested heading. I've squeezed in heath and nutrition here so as to leave room for...

unanswerable food safety question

This question concerns a food safety issue where there is either no authoritative source to draw advice from, or the original poster is asking whether to risk ignoring such advice.

We refuse to advise any course of action, with regards to food safety, other than that which is provided by legislative bodies such as the FDA, USDA or similar.

  • I'm not sure cramming everything into peripheral question is a good idea. These are all subcategories of off topic, so the point is kind of to chop up all the common off topic subjects into manageable chunks. Sticking so much into a single reason takes away some of the value. I'm also really dubious about the food safety one, because clearly some food safety questions are on topic. We let people effectively ask about what the guidelines are for proper handling, and there's lots of valid questions (including future ones) in that category.
    – Cascabel Mod
    Commented Jun 20, 2013 at 22:06
  • @Jefromi Yes I can see your point re. peripheral question being subsumed by "off topic". Commented Jun 20, 2013 at 22:16
  • 1
    @Jefromi I've re-written the food-safety part. See if you think that's heading in a better direction. Commented Jun 20, 2013 at 22:56
  • I think that's about as good as it's going to get. Thing is, it's essentially a subcategory of "opinion-based" which will exist, and it's for a category of questions that's much less common than the other main categories, so I'm still not sure it's worth displacing them, as much as we all love to hate these questions.
    – Cascabel Mod
    Commented Jun 20, 2013 at 23:14
  • If it's going to name food safety authorities, I suggest including the EFSA. There's no good reason to be US-centric. Commented Jun 21, 2013 at 11:34
  • @PeterTaylor Although I am an EU citizen, I usually find it easier to get solid information from the USDA or the FDA. In general they will reply to a query within a few days. The EFSA have a standard reply which boils down to "we're not responsible for passing legislation, go ask DG SANCO". And DG SANCO, as far as I can tell, is a black-hole for consumer queries. But yes, in principle, they could be mentioned since they do have an amount of information on the web, poorly structured as it is. Commented Jun 24, 2013 at 18:39
  • @PeterTaylor More to the point, EFSA play an advisory role, so what they recommend does not necessarily become legislation. So DG SANCO should be preferred over the EFSA. Commented Jun 24, 2013 at 18:50

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