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I left the potato soup out last night, is it still safe to eat?

davonne Jan 1, 2013 07:44 AM

I made a big pot of potato soup last night and forgot and left it on the counter, probably about 8 hrs. It has cream cheese in it and chicken stock, no milk. is it still safe to eat?

  1. k
    kengk Jan 1, 2013 07:46 AM

    I don't know. I do know that I would eat it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: kengk
      Chemicalkinetics Jan 1, 2013 09:54 AM

      Ha ha ha

    2. w
      wincountrygirl Jan 1, 2013 07:49 AM

      I would not eat it.

      1. sunshine842 Jan 1, 2013 09:05 AM

        Dairy at room temperature overnight? Out it goes.

        1. f
          foodieX2 Jan 1, 2013 09:12 AM

          How cold is your home? My house ranges around 55-60 at night so I would eat it no problem.

          15 Replies
          1. re: foodieX2
            masha Jan 1, 2013 09:58 AM

            My thought too. "Room temperature" covers a lot of ground. I probably would eat it if you live in cold climate and turn your heat down at night to 60 or less -- not if room temp were 72 though.

            1. re: foodieX2
              wincountrygirl Jan 1, 2013 10:48 AM

              If your fridge is up that high you'd better fix it. That is not a safe temperature for cold food. Th at is right in the danger zone. Cold foods need to be kept below 41 degrees.

              1. re: wincountrygirl
                foodieX2 Jan 1, 2013 10:55 AM

                Note the words "my house".

                1. re: foodieX2
                  wincountrygirl Jan 1, 2013 11:28 AM

                  Yes, got it. But its not safe for food.

                  1. re: wincountrygirl
                    foodieX2 Jan 1, 2013 11:31 AM

                    How is it not "not safe for food"?

                    Do you mean not safe for food storage?

                    How long would you have left the soup on the counter before deeming it spoiled?

                    1. re: foodieX2
                      wincountrygirl Jan 1, 2013 12:12 PM

                      Good grief. Read anything about food safety and they will tell you that the danger zone is 41 degrees up to about 140 if left out too long. And too long for them is over two hours. I do leave things out longer - I take the chance but dairy and chicken stock overnight, nope.

                2. re: wincountrygirl
                  Chemicalkinetics Jan 1, 2013 10:57 AM

                  I think foodieX2 was talking about the temperature of his house, not his refrigerator. I won't set my house below 41 degree. :)

                3. re: foodieX2
                  3MTA3 Jan 1, 2013 10:56 AM

                  ...and that makes it safe to introduce it to your GI tract ?!

                  1. re: 3MTA3
                    foodieX2 Jan 1, 2013 10:59 AM

                    Yup, I would have no problem if I left that soup out on my counter by accident. I live in New England and the temp in my kitchen hovers between 55-60 overnight, usually closer to 55. If it was covered and passed the smell test I would happily tuck it in the fridge and serve it later in the day.


                    1. re: foodieX2
                      Chemicalkinetics Jan 1, 2013 11:10 AM

                      I don't have exactly the same situation as foodieX2, but I have the following. I bring leftover food from home. I go to work around 9 and eat around 12-1. So, I leave my lunch box/container in my office at room temperature for 3-4 hours. I have been doing this for every weekdays since graduate school, so that ~15 years of practice and I have not gotten sick.

                      I have, however, gotten food poison twice, but both has to do with foods from restaurants/vendors.

                      P.S.: I meant to reply to 3MTA3

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                        foodieX2 Jan 1, 2013 11:23 AM

                        While I know food poisoning sucks (try having dysentery!) I just don't understand the fear people have on sites likes these.

                        While I don't intentionally leave food out on the counter, accidents happen. I know my own hygiene and my food conditions which sometimes are not ideal, LOL. So I am so not "in doubt".

                        I also do what you do. I pack a lunch 5 days a week and it sits in my lunch box from about 7:00am until about 12:30 pm. I bring everything from soups/stews to sandwiches with mayo (yes mayo) to leftover take out chinese. I am have been working at the same company for almost 18 years and have never gotten sick off my own food.

                        I also have an unheated mudroom which to me is an ideal place to store cooked foods that don't fit in my fridge, to put hot foods to cool down or to stores veggies/fruits etc.

                        Davonne- if YOU are in doubt by all means throw it out. I would still recommend you follow some of the very good advice on here by determining the conditions it was left, to smell it, especially after stirring, etc etc. Good luck and will you share the recipe??

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                          wincountrygirl Jan 1, 2013 11:31 AM

                          Yes, it's time and temperature where the danger lies. You can leave food out for a certain amount of time above 41, but it's how long it stays there that is the issue. Overnight is way too long. And, you don't necessarily smell bad food. I've eaten bad mayo - it had no off taste or smell but boy was I sick!

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                            3MTA3 Jan 1, 2013 11:46 AM

                            I know, I know. Millions have been doing it for thousands of years (read: Brown bagging it or Pot luck dinners). As a food wise (adult), we have to take a responsible approach in our risk taking. Something we wouldn't mind eating when we were younger, may have catastrophic consequences today. I had salmonella poisoning 25 yrs.ago that put me down 4-5 days. I would rather not imagine going through that again in my 50's (missing work, bills....and the sheer trauma on my body)...yeah yeah...whatever doesn't kill you....

                            1. re: 3MTA3
                              wincountrygirl Jan 1, 2013 12:13 PM

                              Agreed! I also had salmonella - not fun!

                              1. re: 3MTA3
                                Chemicalkinetics Jan 1, 2013 01:27 PM

                                I think you have a very good point, so do foodieX2 as well. I would say most likely the leftover food is fine, especially if it is covered. However, there is always a chance that food goes bad, and that chance increases significantly at lurkwarm temperature (right around human body's temperature) and by duration. The original poster will have to decide if it is worth the risk.

                      2. Chemicalkinetics Jan 1, 2013 09:59 AM

                        I cannot be sure, like Kengk. However, I will judge based on a few things. First, does it smell or taste funny? If so, dump it. Now, assuming it smells and tastes perfectly fine, then I would ask the following questions. Was kitchen temperature cold? Was the lid on the pot? If the room was relatively cold and the lid was on the whole time, then you are likely to be fine. If not, then you increase your risk.

                        Now, finally, assuming that we do think everything look good, I will advise you to bring the soup up to a boil for a couple of minutes again -- just to kill off any bacteria.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                          masha Jan 1, 2013 11:10 AM

                          Agree. Your advice was more detailed than mine. Only other caveat is I would not serve it to anyone who might be immune- compromised, whether because of age, drug therapy, etc.

                          1. re: masha
                            Chemicalkinetics Jan 1, 2013 11:14 AM

                            <I would not serve it to anyone who might be immune- compromised>

                            Excellent point. Thank you for including this. Some people can take the risk, and others should not.

                        2. 3MTA3 Jan 1, 2013 11:04 AM

                          'When in doubt, throw it out' mmm...saving a couple of bucks, or severe GI issues....Food poisoning can be a life changing experience, everyone should have the opportunity. Then 'questions' like this would never be asked. Enjoy the NEW YEAR !

                          1. a
                            Allieroseww Jan 1, 2013 11:13 AM

                            No way. But that is my answer to all questions where there is any smidgen of doubt about food safety.

                            1. ipsedixit Jan 1, 2013 11:16 AM

                              I wouldn't eat it just because I don't like cream cheese.

                              1. w
                                wadejay26 Jan 1, 2013 11:18 AM

                                Am I the only person to leave cream cheese out over night to bring to room temperature? I do it all the time and eat it with no problems. I would eat the soup.

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: wadejay26
                                  foodieX2 Jan 1, 2013 11:26 AM

                                  Yes I do that all the time AND I leave my butter out on the counter too. I don't refrigerate my eggs (unless I bought them already refrigerate) I don't refrigerate open jelly or peanut butter either.

                                  1. re: wadejay26
                                    greygarious Jan 1, 2013 11:26 AM

                                    Good point. I'd eat it whether or not it had cream cheese, but also would like to point out that the cheese danish in supermarkets are kept, unchilled, in the bakery section.
                                    Cream cheese is apparently slow to spoil.

                                    1. re: wadejay26
                                      sunshine842 Jan 1, 2013 11:35 AM

                                      but leaving a factory-sealed package (even if it's a foil wrapper) out on the counter is an entirely different game than leaving out a soup (multiple ingredients and multiple contamination possibilities) that has been heated and then left to hover in what is termed the danger zone.

                                      Food safety rules and safe-storage guidelines in restaurants are there for a reason.

                                      And having had food poisoning more than a few times...there isn't anything on the planet that's worth it.

                                      1. re: sunshine842
                                        foodieX2 Jan 1, 2013 11:38 AM

                                        So why do I have no problem with my cream cheese frosting, my cream cheese swirled brownies? Neither of which I refrigerate?

                                        Or as gray noted the in house cream cheese filled danish in the grocery store (which are stored at room temperature, under bright lights for for at least one whole day before being discounted and sold the next?

                                        1. re: foodieX2
                                          sunshine842 Jan 1, 2013 11:39 AM

                                          because your luck hasn't run out yet.

                                          All of those things, including the danish, really need to be refrigerated.

                                          1. re: sunshine842
                                            foodieX2 Jan 1, 2013 11:43 AM

                                            OK than I'll continue to "take my chances", LMAO. I am 50 years old and have never gotten sick from anything I have made myself and neither has any member of my family.

                                            And here I thought I wasn't a risk taker! I might have to head to Foxwoods after all! <<grin>>

                                    2. v
                                      Violatp Jan 1, 2013 11:35 AM

                                      I'd eat it. Figure if you'd fixed yourself a bowlful and the spent ten hours nibbling at it (extreme example) I don't think you'd think twice.

                                      1. sunshine842 Jan 1, 2013 11:38 AM


                                        Needs to be in the refrigerator within 2 hours.

                                        and "if in doubt, throw it out"

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: sunshine842
                                          latindancer Jan 1, 2013 01:04 PM

                                          I agree with you.

                                          It's just an unnecessary risk, in my opinion....

                                          I've had my share of experiences with salmonella, shigella, camphlobacter...and a year long illness with amoebic dysentery contracted in a 3rd world country.
                                          I don't understand, never will, the 'game of roulet' people play with food...especially when there are young children involved.
                                          If I'm in a country/village where I have no choice about what I eat & I need to eat, that's one thing...
                                          But a doubt about something left on a counter, in my home, that's questionable?

                                        2. h
                                          Harters Jan 1, 2013 11:43 AM

                                          Wouldnt cause me any worries. We often leave stuff out overnight if its still too warm to put in the fridge.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: Harters
                                            3MTA3 Jan 1, 2013 03:09 PM

                                            Sorry, but..."if it's still too warm to put into the fridge" smacks of my father-in-law boasting that " Mother would put left-overs in the cabinet".

                                            1. re: 3MTA3
                                              Harters Jan 1, 2013 03:48 PM

                                              Sorry but I don't understand your post. Are you say suggesting that I should put warm food in the fridge? That would contavene the advice given by our food safety experts. Or are you making different point?

                                          2. TeRReT Jan 1, 2013 03:52 PM

                                            If it did not smell or taste strange, I would eat it.

                                            1. c
                                              Chikadi Jan 1, 2013 04:00 PM

                                              If you are ever nervous about whether anything is safe - your tire tread, the teetering stack of dishes, having no backup for your laptop, sex with that weird person, potato soup - don't do it.

                                              1. PotatoHouse Jan 1, 2013 05:17 PM

                                                I have never made Potato Soup with cream cheese but I believe I would eat it, especially if the lid was on it.

                                                1. Bacardi1 Jan 1, 2013 05:24 PM

                                                  I'm not saying you should do as I do, but I would eat it without hesitation. After a thorough reheating, of course.

                                                  1. s
                                                    sedimental Jan 1, 2013 06:08 PM

                                                    Here is another one that would eat it without hesitation.

                                                    1. CCSPRINGS Jan 2, 2013 06:02 AM

                                                      I love these posts!

                                                      Would I eat? Absolutely! It was fully cooked when left out, yes?

                                                      Just reheat well. We have become a society of worry warts!

                                                      Nothing personal, I do this all the time. Not intentionally but sometimes I eat late and just forget. No doubt here. Eat it.

                                                      Have you ever eaten Pizza that has been left out? If it was deadly, thousands of college students would drop dead every weekend.

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