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Apr 7, 2014 09:38 AM

I left cooked veggies out all night - safe to eat?

I think the title says it all. I roasted 2 bunches of asparagus in OO and lemon juice, and put them in a covered container but alas forgot to put it in the fridge. I figured I'd reheat by nuking them.

I would definitely toss poultry, seafood or beef but veggies? I'm not sure. Toss or keep?


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  1. Safe. Smell the dish, if it smells fine keep it.

    1. If I have to guess: I would say safe especially if your house is not too warm. Vegetables do not go bad quickly, neither is olive oil and lemon juice.

      Now if you have cream and milk in your sauce, then it is another story.

      1. Thanks for the responses. I was second-guessing myself, my instinct was that it's OK. But then again, I'm not one to tempt fate like that.


        2 Replies
        1. re: alwayshungrygal

          It is fine. You cover the dish. You left your dish out probably like 8 hour in a cool kitchen. Many people during summer left their foods out for picnic or for party for 4-5 hour in warmer temperature.

          Instinctively, we just feel like leaving the food out overnight (like 10PM to 7 AM) to be much worse than during daylight (like 10 AM to 7 PM). In reality, the latter is worse.

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            "Instinctively, we just feel like leaving the food out overnight (like 10PM to 7 AM) to be much worse than during daylight (like 10 AM to 7 PM). In reality, the latter is worse."

            Agreed, but then again, I don't do much cooking in the morning, ever. I think most of us are doing our main cooking at night, with refrigeration needed after that.

            Thanks for your reply!

        2. In foodservice the maximum time for any food to sit out at room temp is 2 hours.

          Also, you can't smell the presence of food toxins.

          5 Replies
          1. re: elegraph

            Food service has to be pretty conservative. I'm sure you or someone you know has eaten food that's been out at a party longer than 2 hours.

            1. re: fldhkybnva

              Can you imagine sticking to that "rule" at home? At Thanksgiving or Christmas, I would have to take the food off the table and throw it in the garbage! Or at a cocktail party....take the food off the tables and the plates from my guests hands and Saran Wrap it for the fridge! "Excuse must stop eating that dip now, the timer went off"......Lol.

              1. re: sedimental

                That's right. That is exactly what I was getting at. In real life parties, people put out foods for hours.

              2. re: fldhkybnva

                There are many food-borne toxins that can be avoided by proper time and temperature control. If you are in good health and don't mind being sidelined by cramps, vomiting and diarrhea, feel free to eat food that has been sitting out at room temp for long periods of time. But in the interest of being a good hostess, it isn't hard to put out small amounts of an appetizer at one time and replenish it as needed, or to wrap and refrigerate leftovers within two hours of starting a meal.

                I don't mean to be critical or contentious here, I just think it's more enjoyable for everyone if nobody gets sick from improper food handling. For that reason I do stick to that "rule" whether at the restaurant kitchen or at home.

              3. re: elegraph

                I work for a catering company that does very large events and sometimes the function is longer than 2 hours. The quality (decline) of the food that is out will depend on whether it is held in a chaffing dish, carved to order or meant to be room temp. Back-up hot food is kept in a cart with sterno, everything else is in carts but not kept cold (more often than not, the function is not very close to refrigeration). Optimally, we would like to keep the service time to 2 hours but sometimes you just can't fight the client's plan.

                I asked for input as I figured home cooks would do differently than we do as a company. And again, I wasn't trusting my instincts.

                Thanks for your response.

              4. I'd be more worried about you deciding whether or not to eat these vegetables based solely on the input of Chowhounds than if you just are them.