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How long till an unrefrigerated deli sandwich should not be eaten?
January 17, 2009 7:07 PM   Subscribe

I bought a sandwich from a deli 14 hours ago (ham salami cheese and mayo) and left it out unrefrigerated. Can I still eat it and not get sick?
posted by zorro astor to Health & Fitness (32 answers total)
 
what has been the highest temp (F) & how long at that temp?
posted by patnok at 7:10 PM on January 17, 2009


How many beers have you had tonight? Yes, eat it.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:11 PM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Was it wrapped up? I'd eat it.
posted by sanka at 7:15 PM on January 17, 2009


It had mayo? Uggh yeah it probably isn't going to taste very good anyway, even if it doesn't make you sick. Room temp. mayo just screams food poisoning to me, but I honestly don't have much to back that up other than my grandmother once gave herself horrible food poisoning with mayo. But hers was home made (you know with the raw eggs) so the situation may not apply with the store bought stuff.
posted by whoaali at 7:20 PM on January 17, 2009


If there is going to be a problem, it's going to be in the mayo, not the meats or bread.
posted by Miko at 7:23 PM on January 17, 2009


I'll eat it if you don't want it.
posted by notquitemaryann at 7:23 PM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


what has been the highest temp (F) & how long at that temp?
it's fairly chilly here in Florida, but the heat is on. I have had a sweater on in the house.


How many beers have you had tonight? Yes, eat it.
I have just begun drinking.

Was it wrapped up? I'd eat it.
It's been wrapped the whole time.
posted by zorro astor at 7:26 PM on January 17, 2009


I'd eat it, and I took the FoodSafe course required for workers who handle food in my locale.

Would I serve it in a restaurant? Nope, probably not. But I'd have no problem eating it myself.
posted by Kickstart70 at 7:33 PM on January 17, 2009


There are two general rules about food being left out:

1.) If perishable food has been has been above 40 degrees F for more than two hours, throw it out.
2.) If you're not sure, throw it out.

Citation: CDC. I'm sure there's a better cite but I can't find one now.

Lots of people will share their anecdotes about how they violated this rule and were fine anyway. That doesn't matter. This is risk management. Would you take a 10% chance of being seriously ill over throwing out a 5% sandwich?

The only thing that a single anecdote proves is that your chance of illness isn't 100% - it's somewhere between 99% and 0%.
posted by reishus at 7:37 PM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Given the amount of preservatives present in deli food, it's almost certainly safe.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:37 PM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Erm, $5, that is.
posted by reishus at 7:37 PM on January 17, 2009


I wouldn't eat mayo left out all day. My wife an I once split a BLT that gave us the runs for a week.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:58 PM on January 17, 2009


UGH!! THROW IT OUT!!!

Reishus has it right: 2 hours is your limit for food at room temperature. 14 hours is blowing my mind.

You almost certainly will not die, but unless you're starving to death and have no money to buy other food, is it really worth getting sick? Food poisoning? Diarrhea? Parasites?
posted by thebazilist at 8:05 PM on January 17, 2009


I once knew someone who ate several deli sandwiches that had been left in a parking garage overnight. The temperature in the garage was about 50-55 degrees F. He was spectacularly and violently ill within 8 hours, lived in the bathroom all night, and was barely functional and semi-conscious the next day.

Dump the freakin' sandwich.
posted by maudlin at 8:15 PM on January 17, 2009


Everyone is afraid of leaving mayo out like it's made of bacteria to start. It's actually pretty good at preserving stuff. Relatively.
posted by sanka at 8:21 PM on January 17, 2009


feed half of it to a friend, refrigerate the other half, after six hours, if the friend still feels ok, go ahead and eat the other half...
posted by HuronBob at 8:28 PM on January 17, 2009


Ugh, it's just a sandwich. Why risk getting sick for that? I had food poisoning once off a ham and mayo sandwich that had been out only 5 hours. I was ten, and I still remember it twenty years later as the worst non-alcohol-related sickness in my life. Throw it away.
posted by GardenGal at 10:02 PM on January 17, 2009


And wrapping it has, like, zip to do with preventing bacteria from getting to your sandwich. Likely they're already in the mayo and on the meat when you wrap it up - they just get to incubate in there... for longer, and longer, and longer...
posted by GardenGal at 10:03 PM on January 17, 2009


I'd eat it. Who knows, the worms might teach you to play musical instruments and impress your romantic interest.
posted by vsync at 10:46 PM on January 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


That sounds delicious. I wish I had one. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to have some Thai peanut ramen. (I know... peanuts? When I might go near children. How irresponsible.)

Eat it.

You all are aware, right, that people have been making sandwiches for a lot longer than refrigeration has existed? And that they exist primarily as portable food? You know, like the sort of thing you can pack four or five of and snack on as you trek crosscountry?

For the record, I also eat unrefrigerated pizza the next evening--it significantly improves the flavor. In fact, I rarely refrigerate prepared food like this... cold sandwiches are flavorless and hurt my teeth. Not to mention it completely ruins bread. I actually have a tendency to buy sandwiches around noon and then intentionally leave them in my cupboard for dinner. They taste so much better after the flavors have melded.

Now, admittedly, it's a relatively small sample size of sandwiches and pizza (perhaps 400-600 unique instances) and a tiny sample size of immune systems (1.5--my wife sometimes eats the pizza). So, you can do with it what you will. But, if you're hungry, and it's looking good, and smelling good, then eat it already.

(Note: this doesn't really apply if you're the sort who strictly uses antibacterial soap. Not that the soap has much effect itself, but you've probably already trashed your immune system through CDC-approved "smart choices". In which case, you deserve every illness you do get, incubator.)
posted by Netzapper at 11:26 PM on January 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


The white stuff found in most deli sandwiches is so far from real mayonnaise it's practically a non-issue. Not only are there no egg yolks, it's loaded with preservatives from here to kingdom come. What do you make of all those industrial-size dispensers with pumps? I know some of them are insulated, but I have a sneaking feeling if it were a serious problem, everyone who ever went to a Seven-Eleven would have keeled over by now.

In any event, look at it and smell it. If the mayo is turning translucent and gelatinous, it's bad. If the ham is slimy, shiny, wet or stinky, (nice ring to it, no?) don't go there. If the cheese is watery or oozy, dump it. If the inside of the sandwich is warmer than the outside, you've got some serious fermenting/putrefying action going on. If the greens are sharp-smelling or soggy, throw them away.

If all that looks good, re-heat the hell out of it and enjoy.

From a risk management perspective, I'd say that satisfies my personal due diligence requirements.
posted by aquafortis at 12:04 AM on January 18, 2009


i add 1.0 to netzappers immune system sample size.
posted by FidelDonson at 1:01 AM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


The sandwich may have already been eaten at this point, but I would resist eating it. One of the ingredients in mayo is egg-white, which comes from a large batch of mixed egg-whites (assuming it was commercial mayo). Although it was probably flash pasteurized, I am skeptical that it kills all salmonella, so if it is left at room temperature the bacteria multiply exponential with a very quick doubling time and that could make you sick. For example, salmonella was found in 70-80% of the tests in a hatchery referred to here
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 2:41 AM on January 18, 2009


Oh for God's sake, it's fine.
posted by idiomatika at 5:10 AM on January 18, 2009


IT'S SUNDAY MORNING NOW. PLEASE TELL US IF YOU ATE IT!

HELLO?
posted by ezekieldas at 6:45 AM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Has the toxic mayo started to find its way out of you yet? The world must know!
posted by zerobyproxy at 8:12 AM on January 18, 2009


You all are aware, right, that people have been making sandwiches for a lot longer than refrigeration has existed? And that they exist primarily as portable food? You know, like the sort of thing you can pack four or five of and snack on as you trek crosscountry?

This is true, but not with mayo in it. As soon as you add that nice rich moist environment you lose all the portability and longevity qualities of sandwiches. When you stick to cured meats, cheese, and bread I agree that a sandwich can last a wicked long time. When you add uncured veggies and mayo, you lose the advantage. Mayo's different from ketchup and mustard and relish and chutney and other sandwich condiments in that it doesn't have enough acidity to create a hostile environment for bacterial growth.
posted by Miko at 9:06 AM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


No. Throw it away. Room temperature mayo and cheese sitting out for that long? Ugh.

Even if it is clinically safe, it's disgusting aesthetically. And the bread is probably stale.

How can anyone enjoy eating something like that? What's the point?
posted by Zambrano at 9:41 AM on January 18, 2009


Srsly, the mayo fear is out of control. But a 14-hour-old sandwich is totally past its prime as a tasty lunch.
posted by desuetude at 10:14 AM on January 18, 2009


I'd still eat it.
posted by pilibeen at 2:24 PM on January 18, 2009


Jesus. Draw a risk vs. reward chart and figure out whether saving $7 on a FRESH sandwich is worth the risk of days and days of food poisoning.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:00 PM on January 18, 2009


I just recreated the scenario today. I ate the sammy and so far my stomach is ok. I did find it necessary to have some milk, but that was refrigerated so I am good for that.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:06 PM on January 18, 2009


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