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I left the braised beef out overnight can I still eat it

I should know this, but for some reason I don't. The braised beef was out of the fridge for 12 hours in our 70 degree house. I have seen food out at picnics for a long time, then wrapped and eaten later, but I'm wondering if the 12 hours is too long and if I need to throw it away. It's about 2 lbs of excellent short ribs and I'm so sad to toss them.

Then again, 200 years ago they didn't have fridges or coolers, what happened to the meat in that case?


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  1. I think if you give it the sniff test and it passes you should be ok. Then bring it back to high heat. Love short ribs. Since the ribs came out of the fridge at about 34 degrees, they probably stayed cold for a long while.

    1. This probably belongs on the General Topics board... and I'm not a food safety specialist, so you follow my advice at your own risk... but I say if you heat it through (it's braised, it's not like it was medium-rare to start with) and hold it at the high temperature for a minute or two, you'll probably be fine. If the sniff test fails, throw it out.

      1. Sure, sniff it to check but I think it should be fine. Unless you have heavy contamination with weirdly virulent species of bacteria and fungi and other stuff in your place and you've been rubbing your nose with your fingers and then sticking them into the beef mix. :-)

        I routinely leave out pots of braised stuff, soups, stocks, etc on the stove top - left covered after a strong heat/boil at least once a day - for even a couple of days and they're fine.

        1. I agree with all of the above (including the disclaimers about not being a food safety expert). I leave soups and stocks out overnight routinely. Sometimes I will do so with any meat and bones still in there and just fish them out the next day.
          Generally what I try to do is cover the stuff with a tight fitting lid right at flameout. As long as the lid is not disturbed I don't worry about it.

          A boiled potato that has been sitting out is probably far more risky in terms of food safety issues than a pot of stock and the like.

          1. If it was at a high temp before it was covered originally there is probably no bacteria. It's basically pasteurized.

            As above. Sniff test should be fine.

            I really wouldn't worry too much about it.

            I'm not a food safety specialist either but once in a while I do play one on the internet.


            1. 200 yrs people generally didn't eat or prepare food the way we do. Lots of drying, salting and smoking, and root cellaring to deal with the matter of preservation. 200 yrs ago, people just dropped dead without any good explanation, and went to the barber for medical attention (okay, maybe 400 yrs ago!). What does listeria smell like? Or Clostri? Don't play, toss it

              1 Reply
                1. Reheat it thoroughly and it will be fine. 12 hours is not long enough for it to go bad, it might be long enough for bacteria to grow but just about all will be killed by heat. There are a few toxin generating bacteria but unlikely unless you or someone in you family was ill or infected when preparing it.

                  1. This kind of thing gets asked all the time on Chowhound. 75% will say "eat it if it looks/smells/tastes ok." The rest will tell you to chuck it.

                    1. According to the Red Cross, toss anything that is at 40 degrees F. for four hours or more. Some bacteria make toxins that are not destroyed by heat, and will not smell like spoiled food. Why risk it? I'm a doctor, and I have read a bit about this....

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: rspoonbill

                        That seems very much over the top to me!
                        Most fridges (in Europe) are sitting between 2 and 5 oC ( 36- 41 F), so everything that is out of the fridge for more than 4 hours should be tossed?
                        I live in the tropics were we are lucky if the fridges manage to go down to 45 F, so I wouldn't be able to eat anything, even if it is kept in the fridge?

                        If it doesn't smell off, I would reheat the stew and eat it

                        1. re: butzy

                          I live in Fla and family reunions last for days sometimes. If we threw away food every 4 hrs because it sat out we would have to delegate folks who's sole responsibility would be throw food away as more food comes in.

                          In all the years we have been doing this, nobody has ever died or got sick from a food borne illness. My Aunt died 2 weeks after the reunion one year but she was 97 and while she ate a whole bunch, I don't think that's why she died.

                          1. re: Robinez

                            Maybe she lived to 97 BECAUSE she ate stuff like that.


                            1. re: Robinez

                              In fact, the Red Cross publishes this advisory pamphlet that actually says to chuck out food* that has been held at over 40ºF for **TWO** hours or more, not even four. This seems like gross overkill. Nobody in this country would be able to entertain folks for an evening (let alone a whole day) or have get-togethers etc etc etc or they would all go broke constantly buying and cooking and throwing out food in-between gulping down food before the dreaded 2-hour mark approached!!!

                              http://www.redcross.org/www-files/Doc... (Look at the 1st item in the "Throw out unsafe food" section)

                              *The pamphlet talks about what to do after a power failure, so the stuff about food presumably applies to the refrigerator. However, hey do not qualify what they mean by "food", or what kind of food, or any other aspects about this food that they are talking about. So - the default is "any kind of food". Which is by itself ridiculous.

                        2. Basic food safety...throw out any perishable that has been unrefrigerated for more than 4 hours...I would not touch that beef with a 10 foot pole..not a chance. To me..anyone who would eat meat that's been out that long is doing so at their own risk.