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Is it safe to eat?


I made a big crockpot of chili last night with ground beef. Well, I turned it off and left the lid open to cool down so I could stick it in the fridge for the night. And of course, I forgot all about it. So it's been sitting on the counter with the lid open all night long. :( My house thermostat is set at 65. Do you think it's safe to eat the chili if I nuke in the microwave? I'm super paranoid about food posioning so I'm hesitant to do so. Any thoughts?

  1. absolutely fine... i would heat it back to > 165deg for a couple of minutes if you are concerned. if a "bug" settled into the pot and is beginning to grow it hasn't had a lot of time to get nasty. you've got days before it gets bad.

    1. One night out, no problema!

      1. I agree witth the others that it's OK to eat. Just make sure that nothing that isn't supposed to be in there did not get/crawl in over night. :)

        1. Yep, fine. The practice here is to leave dishes that have cooked ground beef unrefrigerated (usually just overnight) and have them cold the next day for lunch. Haven't died or gotten sick yet in the last year and this is the tropics where you would think the heat would speed up all the bad food poisoning things that can happen.

          My own theory is that whatever might be bad gets killed in the first cooking. However, it doesn't hurt to reheat it to the temperature others have suggested just to be safe.

          1. There is no way that would be served in my house. Anything that sits on the counter for a few hours finds a home in the disposal. I would not take a chance, no matter how small.

            3 Replies
            1. re: jfood

              +1 I am a food hygiene freak. I'd rather waste a good cut of meat, sad as that is, than risk making someone sick. We've got one family member with no spleen, which makes him very susceptible to food-borne pathogens, and another so skinny he can't afford to be sick.

              There's too much delicious food in this world to risk eating something that might be dangerous.

              1. re: jfood

                I wholeheartedly endorse this message. You can get away with it any number of times, until the time you don't. Ground beef is the meat most likely to be loaded with severely antibiotic resistant e. coli among other nasties. I don't know why you'd tempt fate that way; it's just not worth it.

                1. re: jfood

                  Likewise; I was surprised that anyone said yes. A couple of hours, sure, but overnight, no WAY.

                2. I *might* consider eating it if I added a little water and brought it to a full rolling boil for a few minutes, but even then I'd be crossing my fingers.

                  (jfood, hard to read your posts in first person!)

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: sunshine842

                    This seems to be a regular occurrence at my house. Surprisingly, this happened 2 nights ago with chili!

                    Don't worry yourself, really. My kitchen is usually the coldest room in the house as it doesn't get heat dispersion from the vents as the rooms do, so for us, the food is cool enough to be "safe" by morning if left out.

                    If this is the case with you, it could be eaten cold if you wanted to. I highly doubt you would do that given your concerns, but, add water (as the above poster mentioned) bring to a full boil for a few minutes and stir everything together.

                    We all have cell phones in this modern age. Try setting up an alarm to remind you to put the food in the fridge! You can even transfer the food from the pot while its still hot and put it in the fridge, if you are to busy or can't remember small things (I have this problem to). It doesn't ruin the food in any durastic way... were not restauranteurs here, just simple foodies at home!

                    Good luck!

                    1. re: FrancoD

                      Nice tip about using the cell phone as a reminder.

                      1. re: FrancoD

                        Um, unless your kitchen is below 40F/5C, it's not cool enough to be "safe". The danger zone, as defined by the USDA is between 40 and 140F.

                    2. If in doubt, throw it out..

                      1. We are the world's laziest family when it comes to putting the big pot of chili away at night. Have yet to get the least bit ill after 20 years or so (or maybe because of the immunity I've developed in decades of eating tainted chili?).

                        1. Absolutely, emphatically not.
                          There are a lot of "sciency" articles out there about foodborne illness and clostridium perfringens in particular, but here is a easy-to read version of why this is NOT okay to eat.

                          14 Replies
                          1. re: blue_skiesMN

                            Well, nice article, but I'm really going to have probelms ever taking articles like that seriously again after living almost a year in Guatemala.

                            People should do whatever makes them feel comfortable. If I had a weakeed immune system I'd take more precautions.

                            Lightening strikes. People get run over in the street or are in car crashes. Sholud one stay in the house so the odd chance of an accident will occur? What about all the accidents in the home? Is no place safe? Despite all the precautions one might take, being in the wrong place at the wrong time will hurt you.

                            So sure, if you want to protect yourself from the one in a million chance that (given good health) the chili might give you the trots, throw it out.

                            What really killed me about the link was the business of leaving cut fruit out only two hours. Here bags of fresh cut fruit are kept out all day. Chickens and other meat are sold unrefrigerated ... in the hot tropical sun. You don't even want to know about tamales. Yet a whole country surivives.

                            Having grown up in the pre-'enlightened?" days when the frozen turkey was left on the counter to defrost, baked and then left on the table all day to pick at ... well, I never did know anyone who got sick from it.

                            Yes, if you ever get food poisoning you will chime in with the horror stories. IMO, it is more likely eating out at ANY restaurant is more of a risk than food left at home a few hours and carefully re-heated. At a restaurant, despite occasional health dept inspections, you have no clue how that food was handled or left out.

                            My American over-cautious head still reels at some of the way food is prepared in Guatemala.Yet I've never been sick. And I will do a post in my Guatemalan topic about real health risks, that looking back, I just should not have taken. Fortunately, even in those instances ... lightening didn't strike ... and it would have been far more serious than the trots ... it would have been hepatitis or worse.

                            People should do what makes them comfortable. IMO though, as Americans, we have become an overcautious group, presuming the very infrequent worst will happen.

                            1. re: rworange

                              "People should do what makes them comfortable. IMO though, as Americans, we have become an overcautious group, presuming the very infrequent worst will happen."

                              Perhaps because in the USA we have developed increasing amounts of deadly, antibiotic resistant strains of pathogens that didn't exist in their current forms in the 50s or in every other part of the world where maybe they don't spray wide spectrum antibiotics over all their produce in the fields or dump them into feedlots.

                              Different places, different risks. What's of special concern is how particularly deadly the e.coli strains are to young children when they're exposed. They're the first to die, often of multiple organ shutdown, total kidney failure.

                              1. re: mcf

                                I'd say the same, but if anything there's less control here about what is sprayed on stuff. I'm not only eating the chickens in the back yard or from a market, but the stuff sold by Tyson at Wal-mart (which has a lock on the supermarkets in this country).

                                I don't imagine that Tyson or Walmart is any different than in the US, probably less cautious.

                                So, sure, pull out the dead baby argument. You shouldn't take your kids to McDonalds or any fast food place in that case. There's been enough stories documenting people getting sick at those places ... and one joint it was the salad that did people in, not even the meat.

                                I quite frankly want to see documentation about dead kids, etc . Not just 'it could happen".or "I read in some unamed source" or ... like the urben legends ... "Ia freind told me it happened to"

                                I'm not saying it doesn't happen. However, I would like to see serious statistics about the percentage of the population that happens to. Then let's compare those figures with the numbers of people offed by eating out at restaurants.

                                Again, if it makes you uncomfortable. Throw it out. Personally, I would heat and eat ... but that's just me.

                                1. re: rworange

                                  The first dead child I recall was tied to an outbreak from Jack in the Box. There have been numerous well publicized deaths or near deaths, usually involving kidney shut down since. If you want to see it, google is your friend, won't be hard to find.

                                  My kid grew up sans trips to McDonalds until she ate crap for a while as a teen.

                                  1. re: mcf

                                    Yep, I'll trust the web for my statistics.

                                    But that is just my point. Eating at a fast food or any joint probably carries the same or more risk than the re-heated chili.

                                    This happens, whatever the circumstances. My own guess it is extremely rare.

                                    1. re: rworange

                                      Why guess, the data and reports are out there? I'm not guessing. And you didn't ask for stats (though the CDC and others have them online), you doubted if any such deaths occurred.

                                      1. re: mcf


                                        You are the person who said it was unsafe and I would expect credible links to back up that info. Also, as I requested similar links as to the safety of just eating in any restaurant.

                                        If the statistucs show that 1 in a million people die as a result, then people can make their decision on that. If it is one in 100 then that makes the decision different.

                                2. re: mcf

                                  so essentially what you are saying about the US is that if the food wasn't so bad or contaminated to start with, then it wouldn't be problem to eat the chili that was left out over night.

                                  1. re: chickenbruiser

                                    Nope. The OP asked if it were safe. I addressed the elevation of lethality due to the presence of particularly deadly e. coli strains in U.S. beef due to agricultural practices.

                                    Your inference wasn't logical.

                                    1. re: mcf

                                      How would cooked meat be reinfected by e. coli sitting on a kitchen counter?

                                      1. re: reatard

                                        Some folks just think e. coli. is everywhere. I guess it must say that on the internet, so it certainly must be true. There's probably an e.coli. behind every bush.

                                        Sam, why did you leave us just when we need you!

                                        1. re: reatard

                                          I would be more concerned about clostridium perfringens than E. coli in improperly cooled chili. This outbreak writeup does a good job of explaining it, in relatively simple terms. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrh...

                                          No it probably won't kill you, but cramps and diarrhea aren't exactly fun, either.

                                          1. re: blue_skiesMN

                                            Who said it was improperly cooked?

                                          2. re: reatard

                                            I stated in general that ground meat is especially unsafe and offered e. coli as a particularly deadly pathogen. I don't know what temp the chili reached and for how long or what other bugs were in it, potentially. I wouldn't eat it after leaving it out all night. You may differ.

                                3. Society has become germ phobic, look at the Purell popularity. I would not hesitate to eat it knowing it was cooked and handled properly in the first place. Reheat to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes if you are worried. Many people posted they would not take the chance, but don't you take chances every time you eat sushi or let your dog sleep in bed with you?

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: CCSPRINGS

                                    +1. America is increasingly germ phobic and we are creating much bigger problems because of it. I would bet that most people raised outside the US or that have a different cultural point of view, are not so worried about germs that they throw out food this quickly. I was raised traveling around other countries and I have never seen so much food safety paranoia as in the US and at this time in history. I blame the internet :)

                                    I worry soooo much more about eating in restaurants.

                                  2. I must admit that I've begun to get a certain enjoyment out of these "Is it still OK?" threads. I mean there are always a bunch of "Yeah, f*ck it - I'd eat it" comments and a slew of "Unless at least three independent labs have shown that there is no contamination, you must bury the item in question in a lead canister" warnings. Oh, and let's not forget the "Just boil it" contingent.

                                    Mixed in with all of those, there is a certain amount of useless debate. At bottom, all of these inquiries are close calls. Why else pose the question? Most likely consuming the potentially contaminated dish will have no adverse consequences. Nevertheless, it is possible that some significant gastro-intestinal episode may follow. Then again, it is quite probable that reheating the substance will mitigate the likelihood of a problem. What each of us might be inclined to do in a given set of circumstances depends upon whether we are inherently risk-takers, risk-avoiders, or risk-managers.

                                    Thus, I propose that the profiles be modified so that each 'hound discloses his or her propensity; (a) “I’ve puked before – I’ll puke again,” (b) “I’d rather starve than spew, or (c) “Kill it before it kills me.”

                                    1. This thread has covered all the ground these threads always cover and is now getting testy, so we're going to lock it.