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caserol left out for 24 hours, has turkey in it, is it ok?

So my wife made green enchilladas before she went out of town and I forgot to put them in the fridge. I stuck them in the fridge as soon as I realized but it had been about 24 hours. I am pretty sad about the whole thing because I freakin love these enchilladas and she isnt going to be back for few days. Anyway, am I going to be ok to eat them or do they have to go in the trash?? Thanks anyone who can help.

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  1. Not OK. Trash, definitely.

    1. Sorry, but no, it is not okay. I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the general rule of thumb is no more than 2 hours at room temperature. It is not worth getting food poisoning.

      1. If in doubt, throw it out. Sorry, but it isn't worth the tummy troubles.

          1. I'm with the others, Sethco. 24 hours is just way too long. Toss it.

            1 Reply
            1. re: soccermom13

              Ok, so it is decided, Im going to eat it. JK. Thanks for all of the responses. It is going in the trash. Super bummed.

            2. I would not take the chance. Food poisoning is not something pleasant.

              1. Were they cooked , or raw? If they were cooked I would say no problem.

                12 Replies
                1. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                  So, is decaying raw food worse than decaying cooked food? No.

                  1. re: pikawicca

                    Over the years I have eaten lots of cooked items that have been out for hours, or even a day. Pizza for one. Yes cooked does make a difference. Reheating will also kill the nasties as long as the temp is high enough, and long enough. Maybe I have a cast iron stomach, but I think a lot of people would starve in some situations. Look at some thrird world countries food handling practices, and they are still alive. Deer are hung out in the open to cool off overnight, and it is still ok to consume. People have no issue with mold on cheeses, or dry aged meats, but leave something out on a counter for a couple of hours, and they get all up in arms.

                    1. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                      We have to look at how fast our found is turned around in the slaughter process. Chicken can be contaminated with salmonella, some fruits even have it. In Canada right now one processing plant had an ecoli outbreak, this is the second time it has happened in the last 5 years. Foods that are not held properly can have bacteria develop. It can take just one small part of the dish to infect someone and food poisoning can hit someone. It is not worth it, someone can end up really sick even in the hospital.

                      1. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                        Cheese is aged in controlled environments, so that the species of mold are known to be safe ones. Cooked food still rots, unless it's hermetically sealed, albeit more slowly. You've never had leftovers or dirty dishes that sat around until they went putrid? Bacteria grow much more quickly at room temperature than refrigerator temperature. Would you eat refrigerated leftover meat that was weeks old? I'm far from fanatical about food safety, but that's asking to get sick.

                        1. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                          "Reheating will also kill the nasties as long as the temp is high enough, and long enough."

                          ABSOLUTLEY 100% FALSE

                          I'm unsure that you mean to impy that you have a M. D. but the offering of quasi medical advice (that is wrong) from a person using the word "doctor" in their screen/profile name is rather imprudent in my opinion.

                          1. re: joe777cool

                            and even if you "kill the nasties", heat won't destroy the toxins that they have created and left behind...which is a far bigger problem than the nasties ever were in the first place.

                            1. re: joe777cool

                              The doctor refers to the fact that I do gunsmithing, I am a doctor to guns.
                              My handle BIGGUNDOCTOR goes back to around 1995 IIRC. I use it for all of my forums except one where they didn't allow a duplicate, so I went with STRIPPER-TIPPER

                              Yes, I have had food posioning, both times were from commercially prepared meals, never from my own kitchen.

                              I would alos think that with an enchilada sauce containing tomato sauce (acidic) that that would also help to control bacteria. I do still make a difference between raw, and cooked in this case.

                              1. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                                OP says they were green enchiladas -- no tomatoes in that one -- and depending on the recipe, may have sour cream.

                                and while it might help -- it isn't a cure-all, and 24 hours is a very, very long time to leave poultry (and possibly dairy) sitting on the counter.

                                Again...why risk it? Even if it just leaves you miserable for a few days -- it ain't worth it!

                                1. re: sunshine842

                                  The dairy doesn't bother me too much but any aerobic starch would scare me
                                  sh..less after 24 hours,three times longer than over night to be growing protein born cooties.

                          2. re: pikawicca

                            lol!! That's what I was thinking!!!

                          3. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                            Actually, cooked has just as high a chance, if not more, of being chock-full of bacteria and spores so unpleasent that if you contract something, at first you'll think you're dead - and then you'll WISH you were dead. :) I'm with the other readers. Out they go, your wife can always make more or teach you to make them yourself. They do freeze nicely.

                          4. I would say that it is in all likelihood safe for someone without a compromised immune system to consume. Before refrigeration was common, 24 hours at room temperature for food would not have phased almost anyone. The problem is that even if it is safe 99 times out of 100, that 1 time in 100 that it is not safe, it just make you horribly sick, or it might kill you. On net - small gain most of the time (what is one meal?), and a rare amount of time a tremendous loss (that do you value your life or the life of someone you love?). Do you want to be THAT guy?

                            The economic expected value would say that you should definitely toss it.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: khuzdul

                              Ditto ...............
                              The question is "is it safe" - the question is "is it smart". The answer is No!

                              1. re: khuzdul

                                Before refridgeration there was the icebox. However the meat and produce that was available was more wholesome and probably organic by today"s standards. Just look at fish today, compared to 40-60 years ago. Was it all farmed like the salmon is at our groceries? The new sources of protein are weak and susceptable to disease. How long did it take to go from farm to table years ago in comparison to now?
                                Getting food poisoning is horrible. I agree with you it just takes that 1 time out of the 100 to ingest a poisoned small portion of infected food.

                                1. re: Ruthie789

                                  I think you've got it backwards. Today, meat (as with almost everything else including medial procedures) is handled with far more cleanliness and sanitation than it was 80+ years ago.

                                  1. re: 1POINT21GW

                                    I am not referring the cleanliness I am wondering about the rapid farm to table distribution and how it affects quality and safety of food. They may be cleaner but how clean chemically are they?

                                    1. re: Ruthie789

                                      I remember reading that organic chicken, although it has more bacteria, has fewer mutated/ antibiotic resistant bacteria. So, I think there may be some truth to the idea that factory farmed chickens, which live in crowded conditions, pose more of a food poisoning threat than when they were raised mostly in a pen on a farm, with room to move around, and not given routine antibiotics. I've even read reports of people who routinely eat raw organic chicken without getting sick. I'm not a fan of raw chicken, but it is interesting.

                                1. It's perfectly fine to eat as long as you just heat it back up enough. The heat will kill all the harmful bacteria. As a matter of fact, as long as you're willing to heat leftovers up to a high enough temperature each time you want to eat them, you don't ever have to refrigerate any food and you can actually keep food forever using this simple reheat method to cheat sickness and death.

                                  OK, I'm kidding. Sorry. I just had to say that after reading another recent thread here where a surprising number of posters would be perfectly OK with eating pork that was left out at room temperature for over 8 hours.

                                  In short, to echo tzurriz: When in doubt, throw it out.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: 1POINT21GW

                                    the heat may kill bacteria that is in the dish but it won't remove the toxins that said bacteria may produce. ex: Clostiridium botulinum (aka "botulism")

                                  2. Not sure what the question has to do with pork ( trichinosis?) or turkey ( salmonella ?) but I want to point out that while high temps can kill a lot of bugs, it doesnt always kill the toxins they create.

                                    Still, I eat some things, like pizza, left out overnight.

                                    1. I wouldn't eat it, but I have a friend (who was raised in former East Germany) who never, EVER refrigerates leftovers. She leaves things sitting covered on the stove until she's ready to reheat and eat them the next day, and she claims she's never gotten sick from it. I'll leave things out overnight (like, order a pizza at 10pm and leave a few slices sitting till breakfast the next morning), but 24 full hours would be way too much for me.

                                      26 Replies
                                      1. re: biondanonima

                                        In Europe this is common. In the states not so much. I was mortified to once learn all the leftovers I had been eating were stored not in the fridge, but the stove, when I went looking to snack one evening.

                                        1. re: olyolyy

                                          not so much in this day and age. Europe knows about foodborne illness, too.

                                            1. re: olyolyy

                                              it's the 21st century. Refrigerators, freezers, plastic wrap, ziploc bags, and education have existed for quite some time now.

                                              You can always find some poor wretch who's still following Middle-Ages dictates about food storage, but I have yet to see a single leftover kept anywhere but the refrigerator in any European country in over twenty years...and I've been in a lot of private kitchens.

                                              1. re: olyolyy

                                                I think plenty of people on this thread have admitted that the risk is low. It's not fear that holds them back. It's good judgment - questioning whether the reward (old casserole) outweighs the risk (an admittedly low but not-insignificant chance of food poisoning). You can make your own choice, but when people claim there's no significant or increased risk from such practices, you can expect a correction.

                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                  Well I don't think there is any significant risk unless you are sickly or geriatric.

                                                  1. re: olyolyy

                                                    Define 'significant.' Either we're using the word differently, or you're just plain incorrect.

                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                      Insignificant in comparison to deaths and injuries caused every day in auto accidents. Not saying there's no risk to food poisoning, but I find it interesting that people advise not doing something because its not worth the risk and every day most of us get into cars and drive without a thought as to the risk that entails. Higher probability of death or injury from that act than almost anything else you do on a regular basis.

                                                      1. re: Bkeats

                                                        but with transportation, there is a payoff for the risk...you get to go to work, see friends, visit a park, run errands, etc., etc., etc -- and there really isn't a "safe" alternative to being able to leave one's house in most places in the civilized world -- even if you don't own a car, eventually you're going to need vehicular traffic of some sort.

                                                        And even then, there are things in place to ameliorate the risk -- seat belts, air bags, speed limits, etc., etc., etc....

                                                        Fortunately, we live in a day and age where most of us in the developed world can avoid the risk of foodborne illness by simply not eating suspect foods (unfortunately, this STILL doesn't eliminate all the risks, as any of us who have actually contracted foodborne illnesses can attest...) -- but we are fortunate enough that that suspect dish isn't the only food we have on hand or expect to have on hand for some time to come.

                                                        While nobody likes to waste food, when there are other alternatives in the pantry/fridge, it's just not worth the risk of the discomfort and health risks of foodborne illness.

                                                        1. re: Bkeats

                                                          CDC estimates that 1 in 6 or 1 in 7 people within the US get food poisoning annually (as of 2011 estimate, 48,000,000 people per year and of course there will be variation/clusters/hotspots of poisoning and non-poisoning.) Working their estimates of people going to the hospital and dying, that is 1 in 600 people have to go to the hospital and 1 in 60,000 people in the US will die, or about 3,000 deaths. About 33,000 people die from the estimated 5.2 million auto accidents causing 2.8 million people some form of injury.

                                                          It is of course a personal judgement if the raw numbers for food poisoning are "significant" taken quantitatively on their own or qualitatively based on one's own personal risk factors, which are modified by their own practices (will you eat the casserole that has been left out for 24 hours).

                                                          That is a totally different evaluation from the comparative qualitative/quantitative judgement and argument than just because I have a greater chance of dying from getting into a car means that avoidance of all other forms of risky (but not quite as risky) behaviour is cognitively dissonant. Compound that by using a generalized probabilities that does not take into account specific circumstances and modifications to the generalized probability..

                                                          1. re: khuzdul

                                                            yes to all
                                                            why the hell risk,abuse,harass the immune system,85% of which is south of the stomach.Avoidable or careless isn't the same as victimized.

                                                            1. re: lcool

                                                              Can I get an amen?!

                                                              Assuming that it's not the last scrap of food in the house and you're flat-broke, have no friends from whom you could borrow money and/or food, and won't get paid until next week...

                                                              ...even if it's the risk of puking up your toenails for two days (c'mon, we've all had heaves that made us think the toenails were coming up....) -- WHY would you take that risk? Now making it "running the risk of hospitalization and/or death" and I can't imagine what the justification would be for eating it...

                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                you bet,We were on the same page back on the 19th responding below to Lisa Davidson

                                                              1. re: Lisa Davidson

                                                                In short:

                                                                Potential risk from automobiles is both a non-sequitur and a straw man logical fallacy to the risk of food poisoning; It contributes nothing to the discussion and confuses the issue.

                                                                In medium:

                                                                Objectively, in the U.S. far more people are injured via food poisoning than auto accidents, but far fewer people die of food poisoning than auto accidents. This objective data says nothing about the chance of getting sick or dying by eating a casserole that has been sitting out on the counter for 24 hours. Subjectively, one can decide for themselves if that comparison of data from food poisoning to auto accidents changes the "significance' or "insignificance" of the chance of getting food poisoning.

                                                                There is no logical problem of accepting the risk of driving daily without question while and seeking advice and being advised to do what you can to reduce the risk of any of your actions, including driving. This would encompass thinking twice about eating a casserole that has been siting out for 24 hours to wearing your seat belt and driving responsibly. To do otherwise would be like saying I have a greater chance of dying crossing the street than walking through a de-mined field in Cambodia, so it is "interesting" that someone bothers to advise me not to walk through said minefield without regard to the risk involved of simply crossing the street.

                                                                Take my comments for what it is worth, given that the comparison I am making borders on reductio ad absurdum itself.

                                                                1. re: Lisa Davidson

                                                                  khuzdul with a very good,balanced set of bio-statistics.

                                                                  Hunting,shooting the back yard deer is a must here.However last week we had three 60*f nights here and they got a hall pass.I do not want to fully process and get the animal chilled down in a hurry.I can if I HAVE to but would rather not.
                                                                  LAZY,SMART
                                                                  We are not eating the meat old.Now it's feed lots etc with enough antibiotics for weight gain and various MDR stains of Ecoli,staph you name it.300animals,
                                                                  only one entered contaminated,saws,hands,feet and the conveyor,maybe all 300
                                                                  leave contaminated.I used to feed my dogs and cats raw beef kidney.I can't any more except on a tiny scale.If it is the common feed lot 10 month old cow of today,THEY PUKE IT.Animals I raise and others that come into the meat locker I use some is fine.
                                                                  If it's stews and braises going through risky temperatures the starches are the scariest component.The historic,common medium in a petri dish PDA is there because it works and potato,dextrose are the p&d for a reason,SUCCESS FAST
                                                                  in an incubator.
                                                                  Am I germ phobe,NO,but I do have my brain and advanced education turned on where organic things are concerned.YOU BET

                                                          2. re: olyolyy

                                                            You do not have to be sickly or geriatric to get food poisoning. I had it once and I never, ever want to have it again. He is talking about storing turkey, in a moist environment for a long period of time above the called for holding temperature. It's not worth it.

                                                            1. re: olyolyy

                                                              "Well I don't think there is any significant risk unless you are sickly or geriatric. -

                                                              You are so wrong. I've seen a very good friend get so sick from eating leftover quiche in her boyfriend's fridge. He went to work - we went to a friend's wedding and had to leave the reception early because she was not feeling well. Came back to my place and she was throwing up and had diarrhea all night long. I've never seen anyone so sick from eating.

                                                              And she was in her 20s then. Her boyfriend was a resident at our local hospital - lived with guys who never got rid of old food in the fridge and neither did he. He warned her never to eat anything out of their fridge after that.

                                                              She was so sick it was pitiful - no she didn't die but it sure isn't worth it.

                                                              1. re: Jeanne

                                                                Sounds like this not too smart person ate blatantly rotten food....

                                                                1. re: olyolyy

                                                                  I hope no one hits report on your post,sincerely.
                                                                  "this not too smart person" a bit high handed,maybe?wrong,maybe? harsh,yes
                                                                  where does the "blatantly rotten food..." come from?
                                                                  I read leftover,BTW without a firm diagnoses,just an educated guess as to the cause and culprit.

                                                                  1. re: lcool

                                                                    People often lash out after they have been shown to be incorrect in front of others, your friend the quiche eater was the target. I would just ignore it.

                                                                    1. re: joe777cool

                                                                      It wasn't my post I chastised olyolyy for,it was Jeanne's.
                                                                      Ignoring someone that boorish is a bit much,accepting some people are happy with attention,positive or negative as equals.

                                                                      1. re: lcool

                                                                        Yes, I didnt realize it was not your post. Regardless it seems clear what the intentions of that post were after numerous posters pointed out the fallacies of his/her upstream argument.

                                                          3. re: sunshine842

                                                            You can come visit me the next time I'm in Berlin and check out my friend's leftovers. I thought she might have learned her lesson the day her cat (who NEVER refuses ANY food) refused to eat some chicken she had left sitting out and she discovered maggots in it, but no.

                                                            Then again, she also keeps her refrigerator turned up basically as warm as it will go (I would guess it's around 50 degrees Fahrenheit), so I'm not sure the fridge is really safer than the counter. I tend not to make anything that needs to be stored as leftovers when I'm staying there, and I shop daily for meat. :)

                                                            1. re: biondanonima

                                                              thus my disclaimer that "You can always find some poor wretch who's still following Middle-Ages dictates about food storage,"

                                                    2. It's' not even the turkey -- it's the dairy (if the sauce is as I'm guessing and has sour cream in it) --

                                                      Pitch it.

                                                      Your wife might be grumped that you had to pitch her hard work, but I'll bet she'd choose that over visiting you in the hospital or making funeral plans.

                                                      1. Another "no" vote, sorry. Find wife's recipe and learn to cook up a new batch for yourself!

                                                        1. It's not necessarily unsafe, but why take the chance? Cooking pretty much kills all the bacteria and such in food. However, after you've finished cooking, bacteria and/or spores can land on the food or re-enter it through knives or other utensils. It's not just about the cleanliness of the original ingredients. Someone may not have completely clean hands, for example, and touch the food by accident.

                                                          As the food starts cooling down to room temperature, it reaches ideal temperatures to encourage bacterial growth. That's why you refrigerate items: the low temperatures dramatically slow down the rate of bacterial growth (assuming your refrigerator is at 40F/4C). It does take time for bacteria to reproduce, which is why some experts say that you should not keep for your foods out for more than 4 hours.

                                                          As the bacteria grow, they may produce toxic waste products (e.g botulism). Even if you reheat the food to kill the bacteria, it will not necessarily render the toxins harmless.

                                                          6 Replies
                                                          1. re: raytamsgv

                                                            Botulinum needs an anaerobic environment. A casserole dish left on the counter would not be anaerobic but aerobic.

                                                            1. re: Bkeats

                                                              on the surface, absolutely....further down into the dish...maybe not.

                                                              1. re: Bkeats

                                                                Casseroles provide plenty of opportunity for anaerobic bacterial growth.

                                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                  I don't see how that could be unless you were to completely seal the surface with an oxygen impenetrable barrier. I suppose if you poured a thick layer of oil that completely submerged everything.

                                                                  1. re: Bkeats

                                                                    For one, many anaerobes are tolerant to traces of O2. But more importantly, various parts of the casserole are already oxygen-free - think of the filling of the enchiladas in the OP's case. The whole dish doesn't need to be oxygen-free - bacteria only need a small pocket of ideal environment to reproduce.

                                                                    1. re: Bkeats

                                                                      Locally oxygen-free situations obviously exist within a casserole made of anything but air. Besides that, facultatively anaerobic bacteria don't need a lack of oxygen to grow, but they don't don't mind it either.

                                                                      OP, you made the right choice. 24 hours is just too long, especially if the first few hours were spent on the oven while still hot. Bacteria party central.

                                                              2. Now that everyone has thoroughly scared me, and I do agree with you in principle, but what about the time-honored pot au feu? I can't imagine it was cooking for twenty-four hours a day. The people must have gone to bed at last. And I suppose they turned it on the next day again. I've done that with sauces that were too hot to put away at night -- just turned it off, and the next morning brought it to a boil again, and it was fine. I've done this several times.

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                1. re: Lisa Davidson

                                                                  but they haven't done that since the advent of iceboxes and refrigerators, or the advance of modern sanitation and hygiene. Louis Pasteur (as in pasteurization, anyone?) was French, no less.

                                                                  I realize that nobody wants to believe this, but the French really do own and use refrigerators, and they generally do understand that food left out overnight runs a much higher risk of making you ill, and so the overwhelming majority of folks don't leave food that could spoil out on the counter overnight..

                                                                  1. re: Lisa Davidson

                                                                    pot au feu

                                                                    Something cooked in a pot,with a lid maybe a lesser risk,but still a risk.If it was finished,boiling with the lid on and the lid was undisturbed until re-heat,a boil the risk is reduced,not eliminated.
                                                                    This isn't what the OP is describing nor is overnight the same as 24 HOURS.
                                                                    Most,if not all of us are living in climate controlled homes,something in the range 70*f.Greatly
                                                                    different than getting up to a 50*f-55*f kitchen to reheat the autumn bird that was killed and cleaned yesterday.

                                                                    1. re: lcool

                                                                      This is refreshing. Based on a recent thread about expired (albeit refrigerated) chicken, I fully expected the panel to enthusiastically advise that the questioner gobble up the casserole!

                                                                      1. re: lcool

                                                                        Thanks, this is all very interesting. I did leave the lid on. I hardly ever do it, just if the schedule gets away from me somehow. Maybe once every three to five years? I'll do it less, thank you!

                                                                    2. would you serve it to guests?

                                                                      a lot of time we are willing to take risks with our own health that we would not impose on others. If it was covered, if it wasn't in a warm room, if it was thoroughly cooked to start with, etc., etc., etc. there is a very good chance it's ok. But how big a risk are you willing to take? How good a chance is good enough? After 24 hours even I would have second thoughts, and I'm pretty risk friendly when it comes to food safety - for myself.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                        Excellent point KaimukiMan - would you risk making your guests sick? Hopefully the answer for everyone is no!