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Accidentally left chicken broth out overnight: pitch it?


Made the broth yesterday from poaching chichen breasts. I was going to freeze it but overlooked it on the counter until this morning. Should I pitch it? I'm in NJ and it's been really hot here; though the temp in my house is kept around 73 or so. I think it should go, but wonder what others think.

  1. Personally, I'd reboil it and then freeze it.

    5 Replies
    1. re: HunterJay

      I would do the same. My husband regularly makes chicken stock and leaves it out overnight, then strains and reboils it in the morning before putting in containers to freeze. Never been a problem as far as I can tell.

      1. re: HunterJay

        Thank you all. I was bummed about the thought of throwing away fresh broth, which I regularly keep in the freezer. I will boil it and then freeze.

        1. re: mschow

          Another vote for re-boil & freeze (although frankly I wouldn't even bother reboiling it, but that's just me).

        2. re: HunterJay

          I agree... Reboil the broth and taste the broth to see if it's gone sour.
          If the broth taste fine, you're good to go.

            1. No. Don't toss it.

              After living in Guatemala for a year in a climate that makes the current US heatwave seem like December in the Alps ... seriously ... I could leave coffee on the counter in the morning and it would stay piping hot all day ... people never refrigerated soup or broth ... or actually chickken. Not one person got sick.

              I'd say if you didn't die from the chicken breast, you won't die from the broth.

              I admit I continue to have my American knee-jerk reaction back in the USA and shun the soup my husband and kids leave on the stove for a day or two. However, I would have starved if I did that when trappedi... um, living ... in Guatemala

              Everyone just reheats the broth and ... buen provcho

              1 Reply
              1. re: rworange

                My mother never refridgerated her soup/stews growing up. She always left it on the stove and boiled it once a day. Every now and then (on really hot days) it would go bad after a couple days and she had to toss it, but nobody ever got sick.

              2. Keep it. I also recommend you search out and read Sam F's "Magic House" thread and its progeny.

                  1. OMG I cant believe the responses and misinformation.......

                    Have any of you ever had food poisoning? Its not fun and can be very very serious. If you think reboiling it will make it safe, you really need to do some research.

                    Just because you may have gotten away with something before doesnt mean you will be safe this time. My father always used to let things defrost on the counter overnight, until the night we all came down with food poisoning from mishandled spaghetti sauce. Thousands of people die every year from mishandled food, why would you put your health and those of your loved ones in jeopardy over a few dollars worth of chicken broth?

                    WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT!!!


                    19 Replies
                    1. re: joe777cool

                      >>> Thousands of people die every year from mishandled food,

                      And billions don't

                      Listen, people have died eating salad a fast food chains, do you avoid every fast food chain for that reason?

                      I just have a changed attitude after having lived a year in a country that would send most Americans screaming in terror.

                      As far as America,, I grew up with my mom defrosting the turkey overnight on the kitchen counter. She lived until she was 84 and didn't die of food poisoning.

                      Yep, people die of food posoning and if throwing out perfectly good food makes anyone comfortable, then do it. But I think we are totally over cautious. I remember the big food posining thing of my mom's generation was home-canned green beans that went wrong.

                      My favorite experience of the last year was the Christmas tamales left to cool evernight in the pot out in the back yard. Two days later, the tamales were still in the pot and breakfast one morning was a chicken tamale that never was reheated. Seriously, my own instinct was I was going to die ... I'm still here and no one got sick.

                      1. re: rworange

                        Aside from the "sky is falling" mentality, the chances of chicken broth spoiling while left overnight (~8 hours?) at 73F are almost nil.

                        Chances of choking while drinking tap and dying are probably higher*

                        (*Assuming the person's immunity has not been compromised in any way.)

                        1. re: rworange

                          I knew this was coming.........

                          LIfe expectency in Guatemala is about 66 years and 77 in the US......yes alot more goes into that but im sure their lack of sanitation and proper food handling doesnt help.

                          Just because she got away with it all those year, does that make it the safe thing to do? If you have a gun pointed to your head playing Russian Roulette and the trigger gets pulled 5 times without anything happening does that mean every time you pull the trigger nothing will happen?

                          The OP knows that something could be wrong with the stock, hence the post, so lets not pretend that the stock is "perfectly good food.". We know that bacteria levels can double every hour when food is in the danger zone (73 is in the middle of that zone btw). We know that even reheating food over 165 does not kill all bacteria. We know that toxins produced as a bacteria byproduct are not removed or reduced by cooking or freezing.

                          I like to deal in facts. If people want to go by the "magical house" theory (with all due respect to sam) than go right ahead. Knowing better I choose not to knowingly put my health in jeopardy over a few dollars worth of broth and would strongly encourage others to do the same.

                          "We estimate that foodborne diseases cause approximately 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths in the United States each year."


                          Good Luck

                          1. re: joe777cool

                            Infant mortanlity is one of the major causes of death in Guatemala, lowering the life expectancy significnatly. Get past that, alcoholism, diabetes, homicide and just unsafe living conditions in general ... such as the river rising and wiping out your town or a hillside collapsing on your home.

                            So ... 5000 deaths by food handling ... "There were more than 5.5 million car accidents in the United States. Nearly 31,000 were fatal, and more than 2 million people were injured."


                            Don't eat that chicken broth while driving ... it'll kill you.

                            Also, not everyone drives ... but everyone eats.

                            Listen, I don't deny that there is sciene behind this, but I also think the dangers are way over-rated.

                            Of course, if you are that one person in a hundred milliion, you become a believer. It just seems that the chance of winning the top prize in the lottery are about the same as getting food poisoning. It happnes to some people, but not as much as we think. I'm still more concerned about the canned green beans.

                            Now that I'm back, will I still treat meat like toxic waste? Sure.

                            But I've been less and less likely to toss stuff.

                            I think your post and any others that say to toss are great. It give people more info to evaluate what they feel is safe.

                            1. re: joonjoon

                              I'm always looking for savory oatmeal ideas. Would you add how you make this to this topic on Home Cooking?

                              1. re: rworange

                                Not sure why but my post is gone...but anyway I already did!

                                1. re: joonjoon

                                  Just remember the oatmeal comment so not sure why it got nuked either ... but thanks.

                          2. re: joe777cool

                            And could you, rather than YELLING, explain why we should all be throwing out the broth left out overnight at 73 rather than boiling it and then freezing it. Please tell us what will kill us.

                            1. re: escondido123

                              I would advise you to do a little bit of research on the subject, but to make it brief, not all bacteria or toxins are killed.

                              1. re: escondido123

                                Staph aureus. Its toxin is heat stable - not denatured by boiling. It can come from the skin, mouth, nose. It can survive and even thrive in aerobic and anaerobic environments.

                                Not likely to kill you unless you are already in fragile shape, Can lead to very miserable GI distress.

                                Not saying that it's likely to have infected the broth. But it is possible. People can make their own determinations about what they want to do with left-out stock with that in mind. But don't serve it to people who are already in bad shape.

                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                  It everywhere though. It's normal skin and gut flora for most people.

                                  1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                                    It's common, but I believe it's closer to 1 out of 3 people. In any case, that doesn't necessarily mean that it's going to contaminate anything that a colonized person gets near.

                                    Still it's a definite risk to account for.

                              2. re: joe777cool

                                We've all heard of food poisoning.
                                In fact, I would bet a majority of the cases of food poisoning is a result of cross contamination.

                                For this case, the broth was cooked and left on the stove top. Unless someone went in and started dunking raw chicken in the broth, I doubt there's any source of added bacteria.

                                A simple 10 minute boil will set the broth all right.

                                Yes, there are bacteria that are heat resistant, but where do those bacteria come from in a normal household?

                                It all comes down to probabilities. The numbers aren't there for this situation.

                                1. re: dave_c

                                  "A simple 10 minute boil will set the broth all right."

                                  I just dont understand how you can say that when all the factual evidence completely disagrees with your opinion. This just isnt true. In addition, bacteria and other harmful organisms are all around us, there are so many different ways that that pot of broth could become contaminated it would be impossible to count.

                                  Do you know how many cases of food poisoning go unreported every year? Or are misdiagnosed? Or self diagnosed as a "stomach bug?"

                                  There is a good chance the broth can be eaten without ill effect. There is also a chance, a lesser one, that the op and others could become violently ill. Again, I live in the world of facts here. If people want to take chances eating improperly held foods in their own life, so be it. However, when one boldly proclaims that there are no risks associated with eating food that has been sitting out overnight in the middle of the summer, they are completely wrong.

                                  1. re: joe777cool

                                    Factual evidence???

                                    There is no factual evidence. We're all inferring what can happen whether I use my point of view or you use the FDA website.

                                    "there are so many different ways that that pot of broth could become contaminated ..."
                                    However, there are very few practical ways a hot covered pot can be contaminated.

                                    "...when one boldly proclaims that there are no risks associated with eating food "
                                    There's always risk. I just believe the risk are very low.

                                2. re: joe777cool

                                  100% throw it out! Did you know that if you leave chicken parts siting out in a bowl of water overnight or all day that the scum on the top is most likely full of salmonella (excuse my spelling)? Really, I asked the biology and chemistry professors at my college to suggest an easy way to get a hold of the stuff, and this is what they suggested. Don't panic, it was an academic exercise.

                                  1. re: hippioflov

                                    Only a small percentage of chickens are infected with salmonella. Did you culture the scum to see what was breading?

                                    1. re: scubadoo97

                                      Somewhere around 15-20% of chickens in the US culture positive for salmonella. Campylobacter is more common.

                                      It's sort of a moot point, because for the OP, neither would be a major issue - both would be reliably killed by the stock-making process. Staph aureus is much more of a major concern if the stock is to be reboiled before serving.

                                  2. re: joe777cool

                                    I would definitely not throw it out. Boiling it will kill any bacteria which might have contaminated it. This is quite different with dairy or egg products which have not been refrigerated and which can be contaminated with staph which can produce a toxin which can cause enteritis (food poisoning). Heat will kill the bacteria, but most of these foods are not suitable for reboiling...and in this case it's the toxin, not the bacteria that will make you sick. It's highly unlikely that staph will contaminate the broth, and if it did, it would likely not grow sufficiently overnight to produce enough toxin to make you sick. Furthermore, staph food poisoning is usually more uncomfortable than very serious...but it's not going to happen with unrefrigerated broth. Boil it and freeze it without worry!

                                  3. I usually let the stock cool overnight and then package it to freeze. If it was sterile to begin with (ie, boiled) and left covered ti should be fine.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                      Good point - if it's been left covered since it was quite hot, contamination from bacteria like staph shouldn't be an issue.

                                      But one quibble. Boiled is not the same as sterile. Endospore forming bacteria survive boiling. Specifically, the bacteria responsible for botulism. It could have been introduced at the start of cooking - garlic is one known offender. Which is why it is very important to reheat your stock before eating it after it has been left out - the botulism bacteria causes illness through its toxin, which it secretes when left to multiply in an ideal environment - anaerobic, lukewarm, non-acidic - pretty much like stock left sitting out. Thankfully the toxin is destroyed by heat. But the bacteria itself isn't necessarily dead.

                                    2. I always cool things before freezing, I don't think the difference between 2-3 hours and 8 hours is significant with something that was boiled to begin with. I agree with boiling again, but we only have heathy adults in the house. If you are feeding infants or frail people it's not worth it to take the chance, however minuscule.

                                      1. I'm with Joe777cool, I'd toss it. I've got "Mr. Serve Safe" living with me and I've heard all the "danger zone" info from my step-son who went to culinary school. I just don't take chances.

                                        (better safe than sorry)

                                        1. Michael Ruhlman's take on it if anyone is interested.


                                          Personally I would reboil & consume it.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: jcattles

                                            Interesting. While Ruhman had no concern about the broth, he printed a reader's different point of view. What was most intersting about that was this link about the different type of bacteria, how and in what foods it occurs and how to kill it (what temperature).

                                            Great chart at the bottom.

                                          2. I think were all getting a little too spooked this food poisining issue. I have an old friend who lives outside in a hilly canyon (yes he's homeless, think he's the Holy Roman Emperor!). He commonly buys or freely obtains large meals (meat, fish, dairy included) and leaves them in his camp overnight to be eated the next morning, or for 24 hours with no ill effect. In fact he thinks I'm the one who's nuts for having the two-hour pre-refrigeration limit on my foods. In pre-modern times, our ancestors all more-less lived as he does, we survived. And I think we'll survive as well and be better off without all this worry about spoilage.

                                            1. Id let your nose be the judge. Its probably ok, but if your sense of smell says no good, chuck it.

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: AdamD

                                                A) There is almost no way that a broth left out over the course of one night is going to smell off

                                                B) If it is contaminated (as I said above, staph is the most problematic culprit assuming you boil again before serving), it's not going to smell off anyway. You won't know it until you get sick.

                                                Smell is a poor guide in this case. The important factors are how careful you were with it after cooking it (did you leave the lid on? did you taste it an put the spoon back in the broth? did you wash your hands often?), how healthy are the people who will consume it, and if said people are healthy how comfortable they are with a small risk of food poisoning.

                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                  Growing up in an Taiwanese household, my mom would make a huge pot of chicken soup (boil a whole chicken with shitake mushrooms, ginger, wolfberries and water...the most comforting food). It was always left out - never refrigerated - it would take a few days to finish. We would just reboil it after eating it and before eating it.

                                                  I just made this soup a few days ago and was concerned about food poisoning. My wife, Korean, assured me that it would be fine, as she was also raised in a household where they never refrigerated soups and stocks because there was no room in the fridge!

                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                    I know we (not you and me but the general CH board) go back on this but is your take on this that, if you maintain a somewhat sterile environment as cooking it goes, as in no double dipping, continuous simmer after the last utensil has touched it, keep it covered, that it's generally safe, even over a few days? I'm talking about for American immune systems that have grown up much more protected than those in other countries. I'm comfortable taking the risk since I grew up in a household that wasn't as conscientious but wouldn't assume the risk for others. But I do the same for raw eggs, too--I tell people first so they can decide.

                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                      Short answer: if I had to guess, I'd say that any individual batch is more likely than not to be safe under those conditions. But it's not risk-free.

                                                      Longer answer:

                                                      In a theoretical sense, if you go to extreme measures to ensure that all applicable microbes are killed during cooking and that your broth is not exposed to ANY microbes after being heated, then yes, your broth would be safe over the course of a few days if you reboiled it for 10 minutes before eating (you have not effectively killed endospore-forming bacteria, so reboiling is an important step against botulism).

                                                      In the real world (in a kitchen vs a laboratory), keeping a pot of broth fully free of bacterial contamination over the course of several days is more easily said than done. How tight is that lid? On top of that, even bacteria introduced during the initial simmer can potentially contaminate a broth - bacteria are not uniformly killed off at any given temperature, but their populations are reduced as a function of both temperature and time. In other words, just a few surviving bacteria is possible, and those few surviving bacteria can give you real problems when allowed several days to multiply at room temperature. Bacteria adhering to the sides of the pot as the stock is cooked, an errant sneeze nearby as the stock is nearly done cooking - this kind of thing can contaminate a stock that has been handled well. Very few things are fully sterile, and homemade stock isn't really one of them. It's pasteurized, at best.

                                                      At the same time, the standard recommendations for 'safe' cooking ('never more than 4 hours at room temp,' etc) oversimplify how food poisoning happens and err decidedly on the side of safety. It is quite possible to leave a stock out for a few days at room temperature, bring it back to a boil (not to do so would be foolish) and be fine after eating it. Possible.. but not risk-free. As far as assessing the risk, there are still more factors - actual holding temperature (42 degrees F and 96 degrees are far from equally conducive to bacterial growth), whether people in your household have gotten food poisoning often (some people are colonized by staph aureus and some aren't).

                                                      I guess I would say that a stock left out for a few (3) days, kept covered since the heat was turned off and treated carefully, and reheated to a boil before eating is 'generally safe' if by that we mean more likely to be safe than not. OTOH, I probably wouldn't eat it, just the same. Thing is, I've seen this question come up about foods left out for something a little as 5 or 6 hours at cool-ish temperatures, where the chances of serious contamination are very, very low - on those threads people have the same reactions - 'OMG, how could you think of eating that' - when the actual risk would be much lower than normal activities no one thinks twice about.

                                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                                        Thanks for the long answer. I worked in an ER for a couple of years in college so have an idea of sterile technique and know I'm nowhere close to it. It's good to hear the details. I think, overall, it's just better to be mindful of your food so there isn't the doubt but I understand that life gets busy.

                                                2. Sorry, but I'm in the 'pitch it' camp. As others have noted, reboiling does not necessarily get you out of trouble, and it's simply a dumb risk. Ask yourself this: would you rather spend 1 hour making more broth out of some cheap wings, or 2 days on the thunder bucket sick as a pike?

                                                  14 Replies
                                                  1. re: gilintx

                                                    This is a post from July. Mschow is still posting in November. I assume she lived.

                                                    1. re: rworange


                                                      Even though I was brought up with the method of leaving it out and reboiling it, if I had the storage space in the fridge, I would refrigerate it.

                                                      And gilintx, it's not cheap broth made from wings for me - it's a precious soup, - whole chicken with shitakes, pork bone broth, beef bone broth - that tastes better and better as it ages =)

                                                      1. re: rworange

                                                        Fair enough. "Not dead" is a little less than my usual standard, but to each their own.

                                                        1. re: rworange

                                                          I dont think anyone said if she ate it she could die, rather the risks outweighed the rewards. Food poisoning is not something to joke about or take lightly.

                                                            1. re: EWSflash

                                                              If mschow catches this on her profile, I hope she will update us on the rest of the story.

                                                              Did she freeze it? Did she eat it? Is it still lurking in the freezer?

                                                            2. re: rworange

                                                              LOLOLOL the chicken broth did Mschow in! LOLOLOL
                                                              Seriously, overnight? Its going to be fine.
                                                              It always amazes me at the number of people who freak out about this sort of stuff, yet are perfectly comfortable snacking on popcorn with a whole BUNCH of people out of the same bowl, whilst handling their remote control. Or who handle food/prep dinner but don't use proper handwashing technique. Or eat lunch in their car after going through the drivethru day after day after day (think of how contaminated that steering wheel is!). Or who prep food on their countertops kind of ignoring the fact that Kittie has been sitting on that countertop for a good 2 hours during the night. Good lord, have you seen what kids put into their mouths on an hourly basis? After petting the family dog?
                                                              Yes, you need to take reasonable precautions. And no, chicken broth on the stove overnight that had a lid on it and is reboiled is isn't going to kill you.

                                                              1. re: freia

                                                                "And no, chicken broth on the stove overnight that had a lid on it and is reboiled is isn't going to kill you."

                                                                Its false and misleading statements like this one that continue this thread.... Kill you probably no (but not 100%). Make you sick? chances are unlikely. Give you a nasty case of food poisoning? Been there, done that, and NOT worth the risk no matter how many LOL's you put before or after it.

                                                                1. re: joe777cool

                                                                  Actually, its your false and misleading statement that you WILL get food poisoning from the chicken broth that is kind of fuelling this thread.
                                                                  I think we are as a society complete phobic about certain things. The vast vast VAST majority of food poisoning cases are out of commercial kitchens not home kitchens. The vast vast majority of food poisoning cases involve salmonella, noroviruses or listeria. Noroviruses are passed from person to person through fecal contamination of food, by improper preparation or hygiene of the person handling the food. Same for rotoviruses and for Hep A.
                                                                  Salmonella is primarily passed when eating underdone foods, especially chicken and eggs. Campylobacteria is THE most common food borne bacteria, and its passed by raw milk, raw poultry and water contaminated with animal fecal material. Staph Aureus is passed improperly stored dairy items, and picnic foods out all day are normally associated with this.
                                                                  I could go on but I won't. The vast vast VAST majority of food contamination happens when people don't wash their freaking hands then prepare salad for you at a restaurant and you eat it. Or if you eat chicken at a restaurant and its not fully cooked. Or if you leave tuna salad out in the hot sun for 4 or 5 hours. Not from leaving chicken broth out on the stove or pizza in the oven or an apple pie on the countertop.
                                                                  Given the facts not the knee-jerk OMG you're going to DIE reaction that seems endemic this part of the world, I personally am not afraid of my chicken broth that has sat out overnight . Not from home made pizza that has been in the oven overnight. Not from the mint bowl at my local restaurant's cash register (sorry Dr. Oz, but really? the mint bowl????)
                                                                  I too have had serious food poisoning. If you want to avoid food poisoning, be reasonable not ridiculous. Like I have said before, the chicken broth on your stove for 7 hours is the least of your worries. You have more risk handling your remote control while eating potato chips, or at the movie theatre with your hands on the seats then in your popcorn (hello E. coli), touching your mouth after your hands have been on your dirty steering wheel while eating your fast food meal in your car, using a public bathroom and touching the door handle after you wash your hands as you go back to your seat to have your coffee and donut at the coffee shop. Seriously, relax. You can't clean everything. And the more germ-free you become, the less challenged your immune system is and the sicker you can get. Be reasonable, but not phobic. I'll bet you I could walk through your house and car with a swab and find all SORTS of nasties in your personal living bubble which would be of far greater concern that chicken broth on the stove. And I'll bet you aren't really doing much about them. You're focusing on the chicken broth, when there are bigger things with respect to hygiene to be concerned about.
                                                                  And I'll LOLOLOL if I want to...you must have missed the bizarreness in this thread to which it was in reference... LOLOLOL

                                                                  1. re: freia

                                                                    >>> Not from the mint bowl at my local restaurant's cash register (sorry Dr. Oz, but really? the mint bowl????)

                                                                    Excellent post, but the mint bowl thing is the same as everything you mentioned. You have everybody sticking their unclean hands in it to get a mint.

                                                                    I think for some people who get food poisoning at home, it is like eating at a specific restaurant and getting food poisoning. You never go back. So you get super careful at home trying not to repeat the experience.

                                                                    I love canned smoked clams. One can got me violently ill. I couldn't even think about canned smoked clams for years. But I'm not going to issue alarms about them.

                                                                    In one way, my Guatemalan experience was good because it put things in perspective. Also, when I was a kid, my mother, my friends mothers, everyone almost never even knew what we knew about the possible problem of food prep.

                                                                    The turkey was defrosted in the sink overnight. THe stuffing was stuffed in it. That turkey stayed on the table, sometimes until the next morning while people picked at it. The potato salad was hauled to the picnic and might sit on the table for hours ... and it was topped with slices of hard-boiled eggs. People tasted stuff while cooking and I dodn't remember the spoon being washed before tastings/ Etc, etc, etc.

                                                                    Other than the clam incident which brought down the whole family, I don't remember one other food poisoning.

                                                                    While I do try to be as careful as possible, I have a more realistic view. And refuse to cook the stuffing in a separate pan. It taste so much better inside the bird.

                                                                    1. re: rworange

                                                                      I hear you...my friend had severe food poisoning from take out pizza, he won't eat the stuff ever agan, in any form home made or not. I had a severe case of food poisoning during an all inclusive trip to the Dominican Republic. Horrible. So I get it. Not fun, but meh, poop happens (literally).
                                                                      The reference to Dr. Oz was his "expose" on how you can get MENINGITIS from a mint bowl. Even when the mint bowl has a spoon. Or the mints are wrapped. Which really hasn't been reported as actually happening, but I digress. It was an alarmist POV IMHO to get ratings. You know ...DID YOU KNOW A SIMPLE MINT BOWL CAN KILL YOU? STAY TUNED!
                                                                      I personally think that to eliminate alot of risk, we really need to tackle the issue of GRAVITY. THOUSANDS of children are injured each year when they have a run in with gravity. Gravity MUST be stopped. Simple Money Bars become a death trap when GRAVITY kicks in.
                                                                      Sometimes we just go too far with alarmist thinking IMHO...:)

                                                                    2. re: freia

                                                                      "CDC estimates that that each year roughly 1 out of 6 Americans (or 48 million people) gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases."

                                                                      Im done with this subject entirely on chowhoud.

                                                                      This website is all about opinions, on restaurants, food, recipes, and other food related topics where there really isnt a right and wrong answer. When it comes to safe food handling and foodbourne illness there is actual SCIENCE that we can look to. Some choose not to, citing other countries, past generational experiences, and "cultural hysteria."

                                                                      I would advocate that chowhound make this a topic that is off limits as there really isnt anything to "debate." Furthermore people giving opinions to others that directly flies in the face of safe food handling practices is dangerous and akin to people asking medical advice to strangers online.

                                                                      1. re: joe777cool

                                                                        Key word in the reference...ESTIMATES...meaning OPINION, not science. No real numbers exist. And there is an issue to debate around food, food preparation and consumption. It isn't medical advice. I don't know if you're sick or not and I certainly won't give you a prescription. But if you ask my opinion about whether or not I would eat a chicken broth on the stove overnight, I'll say YES and you can do with this what you like. I just think you're upset because there isn't absolute agreement with your POV.. Which is itself an opinion, not a fact, since the reference you quoted gives an ESTIMATE, which again isn't a fact, its an opinion...

                                                                        1. re: freia

                                                                          "Key word in the reference...ESTIMATES...meaning OPINION, not science. "
                                                                          You seem to misunderstand what the CDC does. And also what science does. The estimates aren't 100% exact. But they're based on sound methodology.

                                                                          Quote: "You have more risk handling your remote control while eating potato chips, or at the movie theatre with your hands on the seats then in your popcorn (hello E. coli), touching your mouth after your hands have been on your dirty steering wheel while eating your fast food meal in your car, using a public bathroom and touching the door handle after you wash your hands as you go back to your seat to have your coffee and donut at the coffee shop."
                                                                          I agree with your basic point that people can tend to get the danger from such practices as leaving stock unrefrigerated overnight get blown out of proportion. But a lot of the examples you sited above aren't actually more dangerous as practices. Some of them are a plausible ways to get the norovirus. But you fail to consider that food poisoning from most bacteria requires not just some exposure to the bacteria in question but exposure to either a large number of bacteria or exposure to a significant amount of endotoxin that in turn also necessitates a large number of bacteria. That is why the elements of TIME and temperature are so crucial and why leaving certain foods unrefrigerated or poorly refrigerated is generally bad practice. So yeah - eating while touching your steering wheel is most definitely NOT more dangerous. Also of note, while E coli is a definite risk of people not washing their hands after using the bathroom, the potentially deadly form of E coli that most people think of when they think of food poisoning is very unlikely to come from that source - it comes exclusively from the digestive tracts of ruminant animals, and things tainted by their fecal matter.

                                                                          I'm all for keeping a sense of scale about the risks involved in leaving something like stock out overnight, but drawing false equivocations and blindly slinging mud at the CDC is NOT the way to go. Here's a better one - leaving stock out overnight is probably less dangerous than a day of skiing.

                                                            3. Last Friday night, after work, I bought a package of chicken thighs and took them straight home and boiled them. I forgot about them after I turned the stove off, and didn't remember until the next morning.

                                                              They were covered overnight. I threw out the broth but made chicken salad from the thighs.

                                                              I spent Saturday night in anguish and misery like I haven't known in a long time.

                                                              Throw it out.

                                                              5 Replies
                                                              1. re: laliz

                                                                Yeh, i made broth last night. I left it on the stove cooking until this morning.. I then, had to go to work and the soup was perfect.. So, I turned off the heat and will be heating it up this evening to make a clam chowder.. I do this pretty much once a week and have never gotten sick...

                                                                1. re: laliz

                                                                  You threw out the wrong thing and then used the chicken meat without reheating. If you had done the reverse and reboiled the stock I bet you would have been fine.

                                                                  1. re: laliz

                                                                    I don't remember the last time I made stock and *didn't* leave it out overnight. I'm still alive, fortunately.

                                                                    1. re: laliz

                                                                      The next morning you made chicken salad... Did you reboil the chicken and broth before using the chicken? or did you just pull the chicken out of the liquid and use it straight?

                                                                      I believe the suggestion of the group is to reheat, thoroughly, before using.

                                                                      1. re: dave_c

                                                                        Unfortunately, I don't think the chicken was reheated before being made into cold chicken salad--not a good idea.

                                                                      1. I've read all the post so far with interest. In previous situations where something has been left out the majority will advise tossing it out. It is interesting that in this situation the majority are advising that it is not a problem and to just reboil. I really don't see that much difference from a microbiological standpoint.

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                          Many have an opinion on this, I just hope that people learn the facts about food safety before they advise others!

                                                                          1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                            Maybe the difference is that, when people reheat stock, they can easily boil it for a few minutes. Most other leftovers only get slightly reheated if at all.

                                                                          2. I don't think anybody asked how cold the kitchen was overnight. Ours is cool this time of year so maybe that makes a difference to some.

                                                                            10 Replies
                                                                            1. re: escondido123

                                                                              No ... seriously ...no. It doesn't matter.

                                                                              As I probably said in this thread I spent a year in Guatemala in one of the hottest areas in the country. It was so hot that when you put you coffee on the counter (which was hot to the touch) it was still hot in the afternoon.

                                                                              Chicken soup and lots of other things got left out not only overnight, but for days.

                                                                              You might say it was kept at a heat that killed ... whatever But there was the cooler rainy season.

                                                                              When my stepdaughters cook here in the SF Bay Area on a street that seems to channel the cold air rushing through the Golden Gate ... brrrrr .. , they are more likely than not to defrost the chicken all day in a bucket of water, decide not to cook, put it in the fridge a few days, take it out, cook it, leave it on the stove overnight, put it in the fridge, pick at it the next week or so.

                                                                              Despite suggesting this might not be wise, it kind of falls on deaf ears.

                                                                              I have been waiting half in horror for the time when everyone gets sick to say "I told you so". Hasn't happened yet.

                                                                              I on the other hand decided to persue being a vegan for a while.

                                                                              1. re: rworange

                                                                                My husband always leaves the stock out overnight, I rarely do.. His attitude is "just boil it first and you'll be fine." So far so good. One can only worry about so many things in life, this just isn't on my list.

                                                                                1. re: escondido123

                                                                                  A friend and I were laughing hysterically (maybe for me a little too literally) about some of my culinary adventures in Guatemala where often my gringo mind was screaming "I'm going to die".

                                                                                  My favorite story back in the US was I was staying with some Mexican friends until we found our apartment. There was a frozen turkey in the freezer and the fridge went on the fritz. For about two weeks that bird thawed and refroze. There were icicles hanging off of it. My only thought was I was glad I wasn't going to be around when that turkey was eaten.

                                                                                  So one night we had some delicious tingas ... shredded poultry I didn't even think about the source until I went to see if there was ice in the freezer and saw the turkey ... and lots of other items for dinner ... were gone. My only thought was "I'm going to die".

                                                                                  Of course the tingas were made in the morning, the heat turned off and the pan left on the stove, reheated and served for dinner. It sat on the stove about another day while people helped themselves to the leftovers. The initial dinner was all the risk I was going to take, but no one got sick.

                                                                                2. re: rworange

                                                                                  Yes, it seriously does matter. Bacteria absolutely multiply as a function of temperature. I understand that it's tempting to make generalizations from what you've seen, but your personal experiences don't outweigh a couple centuries of accumulated knowledge of microbiology.

                                                                                  I can think of a number of plausible explanations as to why people don't worry about leaving stock out in particularly warm temperatures in Guatemala. Just brainstorming:
                                                                                  - It was kept covered and brought back to a boil habitually before serving, lowering the risk.
                                                                                  - It was traditionally heavily salted, or uses some other agent that limits microbe growth
                                                                                  - Staph aureus is particularly uncommon there. The microbes that most typically colonize people's skin can vary a bit from place to place.
                                                                                  - Food poisoning is under-reported there and people aren't aware of the very real risks
                                                                                  - Food poisoning is over publicized here, and the mainly-American CH readership overestimates the likelihood of getting food poisoning from non-ideal practices (both this and the previous one can be true simultaneously)
                                                                                  - People in the area have developed some tolerance to some bacterial toxins
                                                                                  - Your experiences don't account for the practices and frequency of food poisoning of the larger population - in other words, you've seen people rolling the dice and getting lucky. Not everyone is lucky.

                                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                    So what are the current statistics? I could only find this old CDC report about foodborne disease"outbreaks reported to CDC for 1988-1992; these outbreaks involved 36,890 cases"


                                                                                    That study was limited to the US. Looking at the breakdown year by year one example

                                                                                    "During 1992, 407 outbreaks involving 11,015 cases of foodborne diseases were reported to CDC. Reports were received from 35 states and Puerto Rico (Figure_5). New York reported the largest number of outbreaks (122, including 28 from New York City). Washington reported the next largest number (49), followed by California (23), Maryland (20), and New Jersey (20). The etiology was confirmed in 146 (36%) of the 407 outbreaks"

                                                                                    I'll grant that most people don't get sick enough so it is reported to the CDC, or reported period.

                                                                                    And each incident had more than one person. It was a general outbreak like someone getting sick from Mexican canteloupes or unclean restaurants.

                                                                                    Sure you want to take precautions and not win the unlucky lottery and get food poisoning.

                                                                                    But HOW many people are in the US? What are the statistics of getting injured or killed just driving a car?

                                                                                    It is just that I think we have gotten a little too hysterical in the US. Chances are you could get sick, but chances are more likely you won't. Everyone had to decide for themselves what risks they want to take.

                                                                                    1. re: rworange

                                                                                      "Everyone had to decide for themselves what risks they want to take."
                                                                                      After spending three days with a girlfriend in Mexico who was pooping liquid and sawdust, I decided that maybe the more conservative approach was best for me. No statistics, only an anecdote, but I will assure you that you don't want to be there.

                                                                                      1. re: gilintx

                                                                                        Hi, gilintx:

                                                                                        As an ER doctor once told me, "reverse" Turista is at least as bad for our visitors from the south. I'm sure that doesn't make the GF feel any better, But a "Don't drink the water" mentality is not exactly conducive to a Chowful vacation, either.


                                                                                        1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                          >>> "reverse" Turista is at least as bad for our visitors from the south.

                                                                                          I worked a year in Mexico City where I flew down Monday morning and flew back to SF on Friday. After a few months, often I'd get turista on the weekend.

                                                                                          I think your body adjust to local food and drink and reacts to change.

                                                                                      2. re: rworange

                                                                                        Incidence of food poisoning, especially food poisoning from home-prepared meals, is so under-reported that the statistics really don't tell us all that much.

                                                                                        Anyway, if you read my other posts in this thread and others like it, you'll find that I'm sort of a 'moderate' in terms of assessing the risk of food poisoning. I've seen many people overstate the likelihood of getting sick, which is still fairly low in a situation like this. I've also seen many people unable to differentiate between high-risk foods and low risk foods. In both situations, I've tried to argue a more realistic understanding of the likelihood of developing food poisoning. At the same time, answers along the lines of 'I did it and I'm fine, so you should too' are misguided. Because they assume that since they've gotten away with it, there must be no risk. That isn't the case.

                                                                                        In your particular post, I objected to you stating emphatically that temperature doesn't matter. It absolutely does. Bacteria do not multiply at the same rate at 30, 50, and 90 degrees. Not even nearly so. That's the whole concept behind refrigeration, for starters.

                                                                                3. I have no problem with reboiling and eating. What you will be eating is probably safer than 99.9% of the rest of your diet.

                                                                                  1. I dunno, I consider this broth to be worth about 10 cents. So I’d use the toss if in doubt rule and just poach some chicken the next week. And besides, it was first posted this summer.

                                                                                    Were these boneless chicken breasts?

                                                                                    And is there a difference between chicken broth and chicken stock? I guess stock would have carrots, celery and onions simmering in the liquid along with a chicken carcass. I thought the gelatin from the bones was what really made it.

                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: FireFlyFiftyFive

                                                                                      How exactly did you arrive at this 10 cent figure? a batch of broth is worth much more than that in my book.

                                                                                      1. re: joonjoon

                                                                                        Water and bones. Not a lot of money involved. Time maybe

                                                                                        1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                          I would think just the gas used to make stock would cost at least 10 cents. You need at least a couple bucks worth of chicken parts to make stock.

                                                                                          1. re: joonjoon

                                                                                            You certainly don't need parts like leg, thighs and breasts. Backs, necks, wing tips, bones and other trimmings that most would toss if not making stock. Yeah I know some consider the neck, wing tips and back to be the best part

                                                                                      2. re: FireFlyFiftyFive

                                                                                        Hi, FFFF: "I consider this broth to be worth about 10 cents."

                                                                                        You don't make much stock, do you?


                                                                                        1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                          If you read the OP, it was made from poached chicken breast, which has me wondering how good it could possibly be. I see no mention of bones, simmering for hours, etc... I do think that a good stock is worth far more than ten cents since lots of love and care go into it, and we sometimes buy veggies just for the stock (although I tend to use celery ends, etc.. for mine.)

                                                                                      3. I've read all the posts and based on my experience this past weekend, no thank you to ever EVER taking a chance again. The broth and the chicken will go in the trash if there is the least question.
                                                                                        I'm glad lots of folks feel so comfortable ~~~ but not for me, NEVER AGAIN.

                                                                                        1. I wonder if this is the sort of thing where people build up a tolerance if they grew up in a household where their parents were casual about refrigeration, but someone who has lived a stereotypical sanitized suburban life may be more vulnerable.

                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: FoodPopulist

                                                                                            I have wondered about this too. Over the years I have used food items that others would have tossed; 6 month old sour cream (sealed container), year plus old buttermilk, home canned applesauce from 1999 - still have a couple of cases., and others. A little mold on the bread? scrape it off, and toast it. Forgot the thawing chicken in the fridge for a week, rinse it off, and cook it.

                                                                                            I have had food poisoning, both times were from commercial establishments. One was a burger joint, and I can't remember what the other one was.

                                                                                            I feel that sometimes we get too Chicken Little about food. Where I live, the health district shut down a dinner at a Farm to Table event because they did not have receipts for the locally grown food !?! They made them bleach the beef because it was not USDA inspected , as it was from a local rancher. With all of the cases of food illness coming from commercially grown products, I would welcome more home gardening where you can track the food easier.

                                                                                            As with everything Your Mileage May Vary. Some folks just seem to be more predisposed to getting sick than others. And some folks have a cast iron stomach. So, if you personally don't feel a risk, use it. If you do worry about it, toss it. Being a bachelor most of my life, I have probably done my share of food no no's, but then again that may be why I don't get sick that often, as I have built up a tolerance. I heard one study that said that we may be taking sanitation too far with our kids, and that is why we have so many now with allergies, and high sickness rates, as they have not been allowed to build up some immunities like past generations.

                                                                                            1. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                                                                                              Worse yet, what we do is use oral antibiotics and cleaning wipes irresponsibly. It seems that you can't go to the doctor without getting an antibiotic (often because the patient feels they aren't being treated if they don't leave with an armful of medications) and often these prescriptions are inappropriate -- antibiotics for a viral cold for example. As a direct result, we're seeing the rise of super-bugs and extreme susceptibility to infection and illness because we've just not built up a natural resistance to them. Everything has to be clean and sterile, and THATS what's killing us. A little dirt can be a good thing.

                                                                                              1. re: freia

                                                                                                Incidentally - a solid majority of the antibiotics used in the US are actually used for livestock. Mostly healthy livestock. Consider supporting legislation to limit this practice if you are concerned.

                                                                                                1. re: freia

                                                                                                  freia, i love your passion and bluntness in this topic. thank you!

                                                                                                2. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                                                                                                  >>> but then again that may be why I don't get sick that often, as I have built up a tolerance

                                                                                                  I am guessing that is why I didn't get sick in Guatemala. I eat at a lot of street food in the US and dives that might give others the skeeves. Though I was suprised I didn't get sick just from the change of food in the first few weeks. Then again, I drove from the US to Guatemala, so maybe gradually being introduced to changing food over a week did something to prevent that.

                                                                                              2. So how long do you let your stock sit on the stove before it goes in the fridge?

                                                                                                You say it sat out all night. So that's about 7-10 hours on the stove...

                                                                                                What's the difference if you start the stock first thing in the morning. Left it to cool starting at noon and put it the fridge between 8-10 pm?

                                                                                                Would you worry that it's spoiled and toss it? Or would your wake up the next day, make soup with it and freeze what's left?

                                                                                                1. Crap, I just did this with a chicken carcass that I put in the slow cooker boiled it down but turned it off, instead of on slow before going to bed..
                                                                                                  I was going to pitch it but saw this and now will have chicken stock!

                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                    Let us hope the first word in your post wasn't a premonition

                                                                                                  2. Folks, this thread is months old, so we're pretty sure mschow has either thrown away her chicken stock or died a horrible death or something by now, and the replies are getting pretty testy and repetitive, so we're going to lock it now.