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Do I eat this? I really don't want to get sick.
September 17, 2012 3:52 PM   Subscribe

Toss or eat? Yesterday's (restaurant-made) spaghetti in meat sauce that was unrefrigerated for about 10 hrs today.

Yesterday, I brought home some spaghetti in meat sauce. Properly refrigerated overnight. This morning, I took some out and forgot to put the container back. It stayed room temp for about 10 hrs.

Toss or microwave and eat? Good chance I'm going to get ill if I eat it?
posted by who squared to Food & Drink (35 answers total)
 
You don't know what the restaurant did with it before you got it...I'd toss unless you're extremely hard up for food.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:53 PM on September 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


Toss.
posted by blurker at 3:57 PM on September 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I vote no also.
posted by raisingsand at 3:57 PM on September 17, 2012


out
posted by facetious at 3:58 PM on September 17, 2012


Do. Not. Eat.
posted by unSane at 3:59 PM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

10 hours at room temp = bacterial heaven. Even with the acidity of the tomato sauce.
posted by charmcityblues at 4:02 PM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


It may not be all that unhealthy, who would know (not we! The gerrrms will know...), but it'd sure be gross. I mean, even super-pan-con-olive-oil-fried or something, and with a shitload of cheese, still gross.
posted by Namlit at 4:09 PM on September 17, 2012


I'm relatively careless about refrigeration, but I'd probably toss it too.
posted by needs more cowbell at 4:09 PM on September 17, 2012


FDA info about keeping food safe when you're bringing it home from a restaurant:
The "danger zone" is the range of temperatures at which bacteria can grow - usually between 40° and 140° F (4° and 60° C). For food safety, it's important to keep food below or above the "danger zone." Remember the 2-Hour Rule: Discard any perishables (foods that can spoil or become contaminated by bacteria if unrefrigerated) left out at room temperature for longer than two hours. When temperatures are above 90° F (32° C), discard food after one hour.
posted by John Cohen at 4:14 PM on September 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Toss!!!
posted by wintersweet at 4:20 PM on September 17, 2012


It's important to bear in mind (and thus worth repeatedly reminding people) that while heat will kill the cooties, it will do nothing to eliminate chemical contamination, e.g. from cootie feces. And conditions that encourage cootie growth obviously also result in more cootie crap.
posted by Quisp Lover at 4:31 PM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Man. I'd eat it unless it smelled weird. But I am a notorious outlier on these questions.
posted by KathrynT at 4:32 PM on September 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


Yeah, even if you heat it to steaming at this point, some very common bacteria produce heat-stable toxins that will make you sick as hell. Staphylococcus aureus, for example. Resident in 25% of healthy people. Grows wonderfully well at room temperature in salty foods, produces a fast-acting enterotoxin that will make you wish you'd never been born.
posted by gingerest at 4:50 PM on September 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wow. I'd totally eat it. What do you think happens to your food when you take it out of the fridge in the morning and bring it to the office, then get really busy and don't eat until 5pm?

EAT IT :)

That is, unless you're suffering from some autoimmune disease that makes you extremely susceptible to everything, but then you'd already know the answer.
posted by jpeacock at 4:56 PM on September 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I would eat it without a thought and not get sick.

By your asking this question and saying you really don't want to get sick I say that you should throw it away. Restaurant leftovers are not worth getting sick over, especially something stomach/digestive system related.

(I can not count the number of times I've opened my "lunch" at 10pm only to find out it is some kind of shrimp pasta, cream sauce dish, or bento containing a mini omelette and just nuked the sucker and ate it. Never got sick, but never got any super powers either, beyond the ability to eat the lunches perhaps.)
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 4:56 PM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


What do you think happens to your food when you take it out of the fridge in the morning and bring it to the office, then get really busy and don't eat until 5pm?

You shouldn't do that either, without refrigerating it.
posted by John Cohen at 5:14 PM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


No mold? Only 10 hours unrefrigerated and already cooked?

Eat.

I don't do meat these days, but in my youth, I'd have just about every meat available on my pizzas - And I hated putting them in the fridge overnight (ick, cold pizza? Gross!). So, in the oven/microwave (just "in", not "on") to keep the bugs out, then a yummy breakfast 12ish hours later.

And the first time I ever got food poisoning happened long after I became a vegetarian, from entirely freshly-prepared food.
posted by pla at 5:22 PM on September 17, 2012


You shouldn't do that either, without refrigerating it.

People do it all the time. I've done it probably thousands of times, and I've had food poisoning three times, always caused by food I ate in restaurants, and not from leftovers. So I'd probably eat it.
posted by smorange at 5:25 PM on September 17, 2012


I would eat it.
posted by danep at 5:29 PM on September 17, 2012


You need to do a back of the envelope calculation: How much would you have been willing to pay to get out of your last bout of food poisoning? If that amount is less than the value of your left over pasta you are crazy and should go ahead and eat it.
posted by srboisvert at 5:34 PM on September 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I would toss it. It's spaghetti. It's not worth the risk of food poisoning. Food poisoning happens because of circumstances like this, at least sometimes.
posted by ellF at 5:44 PM on September 17, 2012


You can either toss it out or toss it up. Why take the chance?
posted by matty at 5:48 PM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


What are your other options for dinner?

I'd probably eat it.
posted by itesser at 6:07 PM on September 17, 2012


food poisoning three times, always caused by food I ate in [RESTAURANTS]

Yeah, that's the thing. If you'd made it yourself, it would probably be OK. But restaurant food, out on the counter that long? I'm usually in the "Eat it!" camp but not this time.
posted by bricoleur at 6:12 PM on September 17, 2012


Yeah, if I'd made it myself, I'd think about it, but you've got no idea what hygiene in the restaurant is like, how fresh the meat was that made it, and how long it was out and about before you got it. Chuck.
posted by smoke at 6:24 PM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd eat it without a second thought. But then again, I currently have mild food poisoning, probably from some off-smelling pork, so maybe I'm not the best paragon of advise on these matters.
posted by zug at 8:14 PM on September 17, 2012


Botulism. Meat sauce is generally not acid enough to prevent development. The anaerobic conditions required can result from something as simple as wrapping in tinfoil (a restaurant near me was destroyed when a patron got botulism from a reheated baked potato wrapped in tinfoil).
posted by unSane at 8:21 PM on September 17, 2012


(said potato was left at room temperature overnight)
posted by unSane at 8:31 PM on September 17, 2012


You should throw out; however, I'd eat it without a second thought unless it smelled funky. I also eat hamburger rare and other dodgy things. My immune system is pretty much ready to go delta force at any given moment.
posted by 26.2 at 10:17 PM on September 17, 2012


Whether you eat or not, please report back with the results of the sniff test.

I think you have a better than 50% chance of being OK, but if you fail your saving throw, the multiple restaurant hands of unknown hygiene plus extra room temp swim time could cause a particularly explosive outcome.

Do you feel lucky, punk?
posted by zippy at 11:27 PM on September 17, 2012


I'd eat it but like 26.2 my immune system is killer and I eat a lot of things that most people wouldn't. My immune system and my healing abilities people call my superpower because I heal about twice as fast as everyone else.
posted by koolkat at 1:38 AM on September 18, 2012


I recently read about "high meat".

Something to consider, I guess.
posted by Packed Lunch at 2:25 AM on September 18, 2012


When you consider the science, it's definitely not smart to eat it.
I'd eat it.
posted by hypersloth at 7:23 AM on September 18, 2012


Aged meat is somewhat different because the meat starts out sterile inside (thanks to the animal's immune system) and when it's cooked, the outside is sterilized by heat, and the inside too if it's cooked enough. This is why it's okay to eat a rare, aged steak.

Restaurant meat, especially the stuff you find in spaghetti dishes, has usually been chopped and minced before it is cooked so that the non-sterile outside is mixed with the sterile inside. You are then relying entirely on proper cooking technique to kill the bacteria inside (which is why a rare hamburger from a restaurant is a gamble).

With any dish which is heated and then cooled, even if it's sterilized during cooking, it can be contaminated afterwards (lots of ways -- a sneeze, the server's thumb, the cloth used to wipe the dish before presentation, a fly landing on it). This isn't an issue if it's consumed immediately, but as it cools it provides an excellent substrate for bacteria to develop. If you then leave it out at room temperature you're really gambling (a) that it was cooked properly (b) that it wasn't contaminated (c) that if it was contaminated the bacteria weren't baddies and (d) even if they were baddies there wasn't long enough for them to build to a critical mass.

I lean FAR to the 'eat it' school of leftover food, but only with stuff I prepare myself.
posted by unSane at 7:25 AM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I tossed it. Thanks, hive mind. (It did smell just fine--though I know that doesn't mean anything.)
posted by who squared at 5:37 PM on September 18, 2012


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