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The jar also advises, "Examine oysters for pearls"
April 3, 2011 12:31 AM   Subscribe

Can I eat it, oyster edition: I left a jar of fresh yearling oysters at room temperature while I went snowboarding.

I was gone for approximately 10 hours, and when I came home the temperature in the apartment was 66°F, but it was around 70°F when I left. The jar is labeled "Perishable" and "Refrigerate", but the sell-by date is April 17th.

I plan to season and cook them in some way tomorrow and use them as the filling for a French omelette.

Will I die?
posted by halogen to Food & Drink (32 answers total)
 
I would not eat this. And I'll eat most things that people post here.
posted by hermitosis at 12:49 AM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Don't mess around with seafood. Throw it away.
posted by MighstAllCruckingFighty at 12:54 AM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


hermitosis, could you elaborate on what could be going on in there? These are Pacific oysters (less risk of Norovirus, I think), and I plan to cook them all the way. What organisms should I be concerned about?
posted by halogen at 12:55 AM on April 3, 2011


When you say "fresh," do you mean "still alive in their shells" or "freshly killed?"
posted by contraption at 1:08 AM on April 3, 2011


They are very much dead (I hope); I just meant that they have not been pickled or preserved in any way.
posted by halogen at 1:11 AM on April 3, 2011


Was the jar sealed (air-tight)?
posted by lollusc at 1:12 AM on April 3, 2011


Yes, brand-new jar.
posted by halogen at 1:19 AM on April 3, 2011


I really like oysters, and I would not eat those.*

I would throw them away and then cry.

*My friend, who worked on an oyster farm, says to ditch them even if the jar is sealed. Sorry.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 1:46 AM on April 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


For most "can I eat this questions" I'm pretty relaxed, but I agree with the others. Adverse effects from seafood can be horrific and occur pretty easily, I would not recommend eating them.
posted by *becca* at 2:27 AM on April 3, 2011


Any pearls would probably still be safe to keep as a memento of this tragic day.
posted by contraption at 2:48 AM on April 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


so wait, this is a brand new sealed jar, unopened, that just went unrefrigerated for 10 hours?

I think its safe. I'm pretty sure that the oyster company counts on some jars being unrefrigerated (for one reason or another) between the time the jars leave the company, and the jars are actually eaten. They've probably assessed the risk and still decided to sell it even though they could get sued if you get poisoned.

So yeah...I'm sure you're good. And yeah, cook thoroughly.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:26 AM on April 3, 2011


I would personally, probably, throw them out. There could be one or two in there that've gone south a little sooner than the others, and you wouldn't want to get a mouthful of that. But on the other hand, if you're cooking thoroughly most of the nasty viruses and spores and toxins (botulism comes to mind here) will be destroyed by the heat, I think. It is a shame to waste them...tough call.
posted by doogan nash at 3:36 AM on April 3, 2011


I would eat them, personally. But I would not recommend other people to eat them, nor would I serve them to unsuspecting friends. I might chuckle a little to myself with glee at the prospect of having an excuse to eat them all myself.

And then I might regret it later.
posted by lollusc at 3:54 AM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


No! Jesus no! You have obviously never been poisoned from shellfish. I urge you to maintain that blissful state.
posted by smoke at 4:18 AM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you eat them, you may never ever want to eat oysters again. Invest in your long term enjoyment of oysters. Don't eat them.
posted by vitabellosi at 4:26 AM on April 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


Jars are not natural habitats for oysters. Canning, while regulated as a process, still relies on the freshness of the kill, salt and preservatives, and the better discrescion of the buyer for food safety. There are no processes to remove microbial living things from seafood.

Meaning: go ahead. Just have a good friend nearby who doesn't potentially mind you defecating on yourself while you throw up as they drive you to the hospital.
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:42 AM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Cooking does not destroy botox left behind by organisms it does destroy.
posted by flabdablet at 6:30 AM on April 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


See, this is all about superstition crossed with actual life experience, since we can't actually see the microbes and toxins inside your oysters and we have no idea about the resilience of your digestive tract either.
So here I am, never poisoned by any food I had full control over, and usually being pretty relaxed about refrigeration... nevertheless I wouldn't take the risk, for two reasons:

1) you haven't had full control over the process, whatever the promises on their website. Instead you added your own touch by not refrigerating that jar as they say you should have done. That stretches it a bit too far especially since
2) seafood is involved. Which can be a bit of a hassle, as others have pointed out.

But I am superstitious enough to let whole packages of properly thawed seafood mixes slide, if they smell funky, so this is just my personal opinion here, right?
posted by Namlit at 6:34 AM on April 3, 2011


hal_c_on has a point: if this is a jar, like a jar of applesauce, that has been (presumably) packed and canned according to various regulations, and you didn't open it, you should be fine.

Question: does the jar say "refrigerate" or "refrigerate after opening"?

If it says "refrigerate after opening" and you didn't open them, you are probably good. If it just says "refrigerate" then it hasn't been treated/canned/preserved and the jar is just a container.

The official rules are that any food that is meant to be refrigerated must be kept below 40deg F. It is allowed to be above 40deg F for a TOTAL of four hours from when it enters your premises until it has been cooked. This provides an abundance of caution; it has been figured out that beyond that point, any bacteria that might be in the food have had enough time to multiply and create toxins that might render it unsafe.

This is particularly important for seafood because it spoils easily and there are lots of nooks and crannies where bacteria can hide.

I would say that you are right on the edge. It probably took a couple hours for the contents to rise above 40, and the temp in the building wasn't all that warm, and by having been shucked and (presumably) rinsed off before being packed in the jar, many of the vectors for bacteria have been reduced. I still wouldn't eat them, but it isn't a guaranteed vomit-fest either.
posted by gjc at 7:13 AM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


gjc has it in this: If it says "refrigerate after opening" and you didn't open them, you are probably good. If it just says "refrigerate" then it hasn't been treated/canned/preserved and the jar is just a container.

If the second is true, then I wouldn't eat them either and I will eat almost anything. I've left stews and soups and fritattas and god knows what else out for six and seven hours and eaten them but not seafood. If these are the kind of oysters in a glass or plastic jar that are sold on a bed of cracked ice in the seafood section - and it sounds like they are - then no, really, do not eat. Toss and sob.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:24 AM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


If these oysters were cooked during the canning process, I would eat them.
However, the link you give us specifically says that they are shucked, rinsed, and put into the can, and then are good for only 2 weeks even if refrigerated. They are uncooked seafood left for too long at room temperature. I would not eat them.
Well, probably I would. I'm like that. But I would not recommend it.
posted by SLC Mom at 7:53 AM on April 3, 2011


If you love oysters, do not do this.

Death, paralysis, explosive shits or whatever aside, ask yourself this: Do I want to risk feeling queasy every time I think about oysters for the next few years? Because seriously, if your experience with the contents of that jar is a bad one, you will not want to eat an oyster for a long, long time. Are you ready for that?
posted by mumkin at 9:45 AM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


:-(
posted by halogen at 10:09 AM on April 3, 2011


I don't want you to eat them.

But if you eat them, I do want you to post a followup here. For science.
posted by jessicapierce at 11:08 AM on April 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


Yeah, you don't want to eat those. They're only packed in spring water, not vacuum sealed or preserved.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:23 AM on April 3, 2011


The oyster farmer I know inquired with concern just now about whether you've thrown out them out yet.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 11:46 AM on April 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Dude I will eat fucking ANYTHING and I would not eat those. No no no no no no no.
posted by KathrynT at 12:17 PM on April 3, 2011


The oyster farmer I know inquired with concern just now about whether you've thrown out them out yet.

I was trying to come up with a rationale for you not throwing them out (since "official food safety" guidelines can sometimes err on the side of ridiculous) until I read easy, lucky, free's comments. Listen to the oyster farmer.
posted by desuetude at 12:30 PM on April 3, 2011


Resolve not to eat these oysters. And then tag this thread "canieatit" for posterity!
posted by DarlingBri at 2:55 PM on April 3, 2011


This is just to say, I biked to the store and picked up a new jar. They were delicious, so juicy and so fresh.
posted by halogen at 5:05 PM on April 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yess. Biking for survival. Good for you.
posted by Namlit at 5:07 PM on April 3, 2011


Here is a website that will answer this, and similar questions about shelf life and perishability of many foods: http://www.stilltasty.com/ Check it out.
posted by Carsey at 5:33 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


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