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Sep 3, 2007 07:36 AM

Cooked hamburgers left out - can they be eaten?

We grilled out burgers yesterday and set up the buffet inside the house. When I was putting things away a few hours later, I realised the leftover hamburgers were still sitting out. How long do you think they can sit out before they need to be tossed? (Thanks!)

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  1. I would think alot of factors would come into play. Room temp, humidity, how well the meat was cooked, how moist the contact points between the meat and bread are, if there's any other ingredients in the burger, flies, etc.

    I usually use my nose first. If it smells off at all, toss it. If the area in the house was air-conditioned, and if it was consistantly on the cooler drier side, then you would probably be OK if it were only a few hours and it was meat cooked all the way through and just the buns and no condiments. Fat from the meat usually acts as a decent preservative/insulator but again, you need to be the judge. There's no food in the world that is worth getting sick over.

    1. We did a lot of inadvertent experiments like this in college. Burgers: next day is
      fine. Pizza: I don't think it ever goes bad. Beer: no human pathogens are known to
      live in beer.

      They won't taste as good as fresh off the grill, though.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Chuckles the Clone

        I think the one exception to pizza is Domino's - pretty inedible to begin with. My old girlfriend stashed the leftover box of Domino's in the refrigerator one night. A few days later, we decided to polish off the remaining few slices instead of going out so we took it out of the fridge, opened the box, and huge spots of mold were growing on the cheese. Her fridge's temp was fine - don't know what the hell was in the pizza...

        1. re: bulavinaka

          It's probably what's not in the pizza: a high dose of preservatives. I always freeze leftover pizza not to be consumed within 24 hours or so.

          1. re: bulavinaka

            Domino's is a good name for a evolutionary process that changes from pretty inedible to begin with to mold in a few days. That must have looked like a giant Petri dish culture gone amok. At that rate of growth maybe the evolving life cycle would not have been detectable by the naked eye the day before- scary! Therefore, to answer the OP question of “How long do you think they can sit out before they need to be tossed?” Well, twice since Friday I have put leftover hot food (Albondigas Soup and Spaghetti w/ meat sauce) into a ice bath to chill within 15 minutes after cooking so that when it was next put into the fridge, or freezer, the heat from it would not spoil my milk, wilt my lettuce or defrost and spoil the cream in my Drumsticks. I am a little freaky about it but once cooked meat cools to room temp on it’s own, and then sits even longer, I go by the rule of “when in doubt toss it out.”

            How long can leftover food be left out of the refrigerator? Actually it depends on many factors just like bulavinaka stated above. Also beef, chicken, cheese all have different time limits. But as a grneral rule. see below.

        2. It's fine. When I spent a summer in Germany in high school my host mother would pack me "Frikadellen" (which can contain a mix of pork and beef, but these were just ground beef with onions and bread crumbs) for my lunch most days. They're cooked, they're fine.

          1. According to the USDA you have a two-hour window to leave food out in general. In the case of hamburger, however, there is a much higher chance of bacterial contamination than with other foods -- hamburger meat comes into contact with some really nasty stuff when it's processed -- so unless the burgers were properly cooked all the way through and refrigerated immediately afterwards, they should be tossed.

            1. What about cooked grass fed organic chicken breasts? So expensive, I hate to pitch them. If I nuke them well, think I might be ok?

              1 Reply
              1. re: Coburger

                Depends how long they were out and how warm your home is.