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URGENT food safety question! Do I need to start over?

Help! I started a gumbo last night - made the roux, added the veggies, and added the chicken stock. I was going to finish it this morning. I left the pan out to cool a little bit before I put it in the fridge - and hubby was to put it in before he went to bed. I just went into the kitchen and it still on the stove!!!!!! He thinks if we bring it to a boil it will be safe. That makes me really nervous. It has been out since about 11:00pm when I finished adding the stock (i used boxed if it makes a difference). Any chowhounders thoughts?

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  1. I think it will be fine if you bring it to a boil for 15 minutes.

    1. I left my chicken soup to cool and forgot about it last night as well.

      My house was cool all night, and when I got up at 4:30am this morning, I stuck the entire pan in the fridge. I'm going to keep it.

      If it were a hot summer night, I might have pitched it.

      I think your gumbo is fine too.

      1. Most likely you'll be okay, but that's a massive violation of food safety protocol and you're definitely taking a risk. It's not even close to a fringe call. If any baddies got in there, you'll hate life. I tend towards the cavalier end of the spectrum, and I'd pitch it. Not worth it.

        Incidentally, kittyfood, boiling doesn't make foods safe. That kills most microbes, but doesn't do a damn thing to eliminate the toxins they've left behind. If all it took was a little boiling, you could leave your soup out for a week as long as you boiled it for a while. Just doesn't work that way.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Dmnkly

          "boiling doesn't make foods safe. That kills most microbes, but doesn't do a damn thing to eliminate the toxins they've left behind. "

          Could you explain that please? "Microbes" and "toxins" seem a little vaguer than I can get my arms around. I'm not in any way saying you're wrong; I'd just like something more factual. Thanks.

          1. re: c oliver

            Microbes are alive -- bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus. Most can be killed by boiling. Staph aureus secretes toxins -- products that can make you sick. Staph aureus causes food poisoning by hyperactivating your immune system. Toxins are chemical products. They aren't alive, and usually they aren't fragile enough to be broken down by boiling.

            1. re: c oliver

              I apologize... I don't profess to be an authority on this subject, so I should probably just keep my mouth shut rather than speak vaguely. I was merely trying to make the point that the idea that you can just boil something to make it safe is a false premise.

              As I said above, the OP would most likely not have a problem (which appears to have been borne out, not that one example means anything). But "it will be fine" fails to convey that there IS a risk involved if something nasty has been introduced to the pot by any of the methods mentioned elsewhere in this thread.

          2. i think its fine, when I make soups, stocks or stews that i want to skim the fat off of, i leave it on the stove top to cool. I never put something into the fridge until it has cooled completely, and in a heavy cast iron dutch oven, cooling completely takes a while. I am also writing to you from a cool climate though but really think your gumbo is fine.

            1. I would *never* eat something of that ilk if had been out of the fridge for 9 hours. Not worth the risk. If you've ever had food poisoning you probably wouldn't think twice. It's extremely unpleasant ;-)