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  • Writer's picturePodcast Librarian

Risky or Not?: The podcast that has made me inexplicably obsessed with food safety

Updated: Jan 8, 2021

The Premise (from Apple Podcasts):

Risky or Not? is a short weekly(ish) podcast from Professor Ben Chapman from North Carolina State University, and Dr. Don Schaffner from Rutgers University. Dr. Don and Professor Chapman promise do their best not to waffle, dither, dissemble or equivocate, and to give straight up answers about whether something is risky or not.⁣

Series or standalone:


Begin listening to:

Any episode


Short discussion about the riskiness of common food safety quandries


Ben and Dr. Don, food safety experts

Sound/production quality:


Rating/age suitability:

All ages, but I imagine most 8 year olds are not Googling "Left eggs out overnight safe?"

Approximate length of episodes:

10 minutes

Curricular ties:

Probably only possible if you're teaching about bacteria growth

Similar recommended pods:

The hosts also record Food Safety Talk, which is a longer, more technical food safety podcast. Who knew such a thing existed? Am I Dying is a great pod with a very similar style, hosted by two doctors who talk about common health symptoms.

Podcast Librarian’s Review:

If you’re like me, you’ve googled, “safe to eat [food name]+ [situation]” when your power went out for a couple hours or you accidentally left out homemade chicken broth overnight. RoN is primarily a food (or food-adjacent) safety podcast which, I know, sounds so dull. But it’s not! It’s an interesting and casual chat between experts (who work in academia) about questions that are submitted or found on Twitter/Reddit. The best part is that it’s short (under 10 minutes) because let’s be honest, most are us are not that interested in food safety (until the point when we really need an answer about it). The experts don’t always agree, but they reference real scientific studies and their own experiences, and the conversation is always fun. Also, the theme song is bizarre but catchy and so perfect for the theme; listen and you’ll see what I mean. Despite the disclaimer at the top of the episode that Dr. Don and Prof. Ben will do their best "not to waffle, dither, or equivocate," about the particulars of the question, they pretty much always do--but hey, that's half the fun!

Update 1.8.21

Months later, I'm still obsessed with RoN! They have the best episode titles, and people ask them the most ridiculous things. Don't miss Toilet Milky Way, a true classic.

Also, I love that Dr. Don and Prof. Ben take the questions so seriously that they reference and cite their sources (serious scientific food safety journal articles) to determine whether the situation/behavior is risky or not. As a librarian, I'm a sucker for a podcast that cites its sources in the show notes!

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