HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


Cook it or toss it?

So, stupid me, I came home last night from the store... why I did this I have no idea... but I put a bag containing three 1 pound refrigerated packages of organic ground beef and two frozen packages of sausage links on the couch, where they remained for the next 10 hours until I discovered the bag this morning. Sausage and ground beef still cool to the touch. My wife says toss it, I say eat it. The sausage is Jones precooked sausage links... The ground beef is raw. What say you?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I say sausage fine......but cook immediately do not refreeze.

    Ground beef, does it smell? Is it slimy? What is it's color? If it passes those tests I would cook it immediately and and eat it in small well spaced batches, so if you do get sick you limit the affects. (joke, I think if it passes those tests you should be fine)

    7 Replies
    1. re: jrvedivici

      Why is the raw meat sausage fine and the ground meat not?
      Does it contain ingredients that would make it impermeable to bacteria?

      1. re: monavano

        The sausage was frozen, it would take several hours in normal room temperature to thaw. The sausage was also not raw meat, it was pre-cooked Jones sausage links according to the poster.

        1. re: jrvedivici

          I wouldn't eat it, but that's me and maybe I'm a little overly cautious.
          I wouldn't feed it to someone I love who is already leery.

          For me, it's just money.
          I'm not being glib. I'm not made of it nor do we have a money tree in the backyard.
          It would be really nice, though!

        2. re: monavano

          It's *pre-cooked* sausage, according to the OP.

          1. re: linguafood

            Right, I saw that when re-reading.
            It's not an easy call for the sausage as it is for the ground beef.
            I'm just a nervous nelly, especially with someone else's health.
            And my dogs ;-)

          2. re: jrvedivici

            The sight/smell/sliminess test sounds wise... I would also start by feeding it (well-cooked) to the most healthy member of the household first.

          3. I hate waste and mistakes too, but is the risk worth it?
            Honor your wife's wishes, and her health.

            1. I once left an unfrozen rib steak out overnight, a professional cook acquaintance at the time said there's nothing too worry about. I ate it and had no problems.

              Now is there a difference with your case as it's ground beef? I don't know. Is it extra hot in your place? I can't see it being an issue if cooked immediately.

              1. If the beef is still cold to the touch, should be fine, fry a small test patty and taste it. The pre-cooked sausage is probably loaded with preservatives, should also be fine. Now as to your memory issue.....wife wins!

                1. The process of grinding beef introduces the possibility of all kinds of nasties in the meat.

                  Bacteria grows exponentially in the danger zone (40-140 degrees).

                  I would definitely toss the ground beef.

                  I'd probably also toss the sausage like most people who have had serious food poisoning would. But its a closer call.

                  1. How will you feel while you and your wife compete for time hugging the royal throne and sipping ginger ale, knowing you are in self inflicted bathroom purgatory - if something is foul?
                    Sure it's a toss of the dice, and the smell, slime, color are good things to consider. But are you willing to roll the dice and forever have that bathroom story to share until death do you part? Hell hath no fury like a wife that was purposely subjected to food poisoning, on a gamble.

                    1. The sausage should be okay - it was frozen to begin with and it's still cool - but the ground beef is no longer for this world. Ground meat has a lot of bacteria in it so I wouldn't risk it.

                      1. if its cool to the touch and your house was cool and nothing is slimy or smelly personally I would cook it ... if anything felt or smelled even a bit off I would toss it - but that's me - I probably would not serve to guests.

                        1. The frozen sausage will have "refrigerated" the ground beef for HOURS, until the temperatures equalled out.
                          I would make meatballs, either in sauce or plain, NOW.
                          Thoroughly cook the ground beef. If you do not want to do meatballs, fry it loose, breaking it up as you go. Include onions if you like. Then freeze and use in making chili or spaghetti sauce or stirfries in the future. (I am not interested in warnings about boogeyman "toxins" rumored to be produced if there's been bacterial growth. I've cooked many a package of gray ground beef without the least bit of illness after eating it.)

                          I would not worry about the precooked sausage at all. Plenty of salt and probably other preservatives in THAT.
                          Freeze and use whenever the mood strikes.

                          1. Sausage links are precooked and were initially frozen. Those I would eat or cook immediately.

                            The raw ground beef would be on my toss list.

                            1. I'd eat it, but I wouldn't serve it to others.

                              1. I'd probably keep the sausages and toss the beef. If the packages weren't wrapped well and beef juice got on the sausages, I'd probably toss those as well. I wouldn't necessarily feel the need to cook the sausages immediately, but I wouldn't refreeze, so I'd cook and eat over the next few days.

                                I do have a compromised immune system, and I rarely buy ground meat because I don't like it, so that might be coloring my response here.

                                1. House Rule>>>>>>>>>>

                                  When in Doubt, Throw it Out!!!!

                                  No one ever got sick from not eating questionable food.

                                  1. Also, where are you and what has your house temp been like? I would say you're safe...but of course it is easy for us to play your gamble game for you!

                                    1. It's the weekend, eat it!

                                      Worst case scenario, you'll be 10lbs lighter by Monday.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. Toss the ground beef and keep the sausage.

                                        1. So what did you end up doing? Hope all is well~!

                                          1. I too would not take the chance. Blech!

                                            1. Toss it. Ground beef has been handled too much and contains to much bacteria and the possibility of who knows what that percolates in a warmer environment. Unless your sofa was 35 degrees it's not worth eating. I'd tank the sausage too. Same reasons as above, a processed food product that has touched many surfaces on its way to being prepared.

                                              And really, meat left out for 10 hours might smell but it's not long enough to be slimy or obviously spoiled unless it's unwrapped and exposed to the elements. The smell/visual test isn't going to be good enough in this instance.

                                              It's not worth getting sick for some meat, no matter what you paid for it!

                                              1. I woulda cooked it, but considering MarlboroMan has yet to come back with an update, perhaps that might not have been the wisest choice...

                                                1. None of it is safe to eat. Toss it all and file it under "Lessons Learned." A good rule of thumb to remember is "When in doubt, throw it out." Otherwise remember that 2 hours is the maximum time food should remain at room temp.

                                                  1. given the way these threads tend to waffle back and forth, it's very, very unusual to have such a strong consensus.

                                                    $20 (assuming $5/pound for the ground beef and $5 for the sausage) probably won't even cover the copay to see your doctor (for one of you, let alone both) -- and will barely pay for enough ginger ale, Gatorade and Pepto-Bismol for the two of you.

                                                    Listen to the consensus and chuck it.