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Tuna sandwich longevity?
March 16, 2007 11:50 AM   Subscribe

I made a tuna sandwich for lunch and left it at home. Will it still be edible?

I made a tuna sandwich - the tuna fish is mixed with mayo and pickles, and the sandwich is in a closed ziploc bag... I prepared it about 7:30am and wonder whether it will be safe to eat at 6 tonight when I get home. I live 15+ miles from work so driving back at lunch time would cost about as much in gas as getting something at Quizno's.
posted by seiryuu to Food & Drink (73 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
No.
posted by FlamingBore at 11:55 AM on March 16, 2007


Were it just tuna, it'd be iffy. I'd probably eat it, my g/f wouldn't. But with mayo, no fuckin' way.
posted by notsnot at 11:58 AM on March 16, 2007


Mayonnaise goes bad really fast at room temperature. Salmonella, baby, Salmonella.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 12:00 PM on March 16, 2007


If it's in the fridge? Maybe. If it's on the counter? No.
posted by sjuhawk31 at 12:01 PM on March 16, 2007


I'll go ahead and say, "No, It's not worth you the potential puking."
posted by jerseygirl at 12:02 PM on March 16, 2007


Food safety rule in my domicile:
When in doubt, toss it out.
If you have to ask if the food is safe to eat, it isn't worth the risk. Can of tuna: $.39. Spoonful of Mayo and Pickles $.10. Night in the ER with food poisoning: priceless.
posted by leapfrog at 12:03 PM on March 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


I wouldn't eat it for dinner. But I probably would put it in the fridge tonight, and eat it tomorrow. But, uh, I guess that's bad.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:04 PM on March 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


My childhood must have been insanely risky, since I regularly had tuna fish made in the morning in an unrefrigerated brown bag until afternoon.

Salmonella? Maybe if it was homemade mayo.
posted by smackfu at 12:09 PM on March 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


But I probably would put it in the fridge tonight, and eat it tomorrow. But, uh, I guess that's bad.

Ok, that kind of made me feel a little queasy just thinking about it. ;-)

It's not good now and nothing you can do to it, either chilling it or heating it, will make it safe to eat. If it's in the fridge though, it's fine.
posted by tastybrains at 12:11 PM on March 16, 2007


Agree with smackfu. I survived my childhood after eating tuna left in a locker at school in a brown bag until lunchtime. It was fine. This sounds like it would be twice the time though. Also agree with just toss it/not worth potential puking.
posted by zackola at 12:14 PM on March 16, 2007


The notion that mayonnaise spoils quickly is false. Mayonnasie is acidic in the first place, which retards the production of bacteria. Commercial mayonnaise is loaded up with all sorts of preservatives and stabilizers to keep the product viable at room temperature. In point of fact, mayonnaise actually extends the length of time something can be left unrefrigerated.

Homemade mayo, which contains raw egg, is at a greater risk of causing foodborne illness than commercial mayo. M ost cases of salmonella from products made with mayo come from the spoilage in the other ingredients, NOT the mayonnaise.
posted by briank at 12:14 PM on March 16, 2007 [7 favorites]


I'd probably eat it, but I'm not necessarily advocating that you eat it...
posted by ob at 12:22 PM on March 16, 2007


I've made tuna sandwiches at 7am, took them to work and then not had lunch until about 2pm.

But according to people in this thread, in those 4 hours it will suddenly turn from a yummy but warm tuna sandwich into a poisonous mass? I dont think people in these food threads speak from experience. They're the same ones who dont understand that you dont need to refrigerate butter.
posted by vacapinta at 12:24 PM on March 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


According to the above, here are your variables: (1) where you left it, (2) the kind of mayo, (3) whether you like to puke.

I say, think outside the box. If you were to drop the sandwich in your deep fryer, it would be right as rain.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 12:28 PM on March 16, 2007


Maybe it will be safe if you live in a cold part of the country and your heater isn't on while you're at work. When I lived on the East Coast, our house was like an ice box during the day. I could leave a soda on the counter and it would be perfectly frosty when I got home.
posted by HotPatatta at 12:33 PM on March 16, 2007


I would refridgerate it (because warm mayo tastes icky) and eat it the next day, if it's canned tuna and mayo from the grocery store. I'd sniff it first, to make sure it passed the "smells alright?" test.
posted by muddgirl at 12:33 PM on March 16, 2007


OK, so it also depends on (4) the nature of the tuna, and (5) whether you live in an igloo. I would now add: (6) whether you own a cat, and return home to find the bag open and the cat a-puking.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 12:36 PM on March 16, 2007


I'd eat it.
posted by dazed_one at 12:52 PM on March 16, 2007


I regularly ate tuna fish (with mayo and celery) that was unrefrigerated as a child. Even at summer camp.

Heavy metal accumulation aside, I never vomited up a single sandwich.
posted by cobaltnine at 1:02 PM on March 16, 2007


Student Rule No. 1: Never Waste Food.

(but i guess you're not a student...)
posted by cardamine at 1:14 PM on March 16, 2007


Unless you live in the tropics or heat your home to approximate the tropics, it will be fine. Like others in this thread, I regularly ate sandwiches from my lunch, sandwiches made of tuna. In Southern California. In summer. Stored on a bus.
posted by dame at 1:20 PM on March 16, 2007


If I were trying intentionally to make something with the absolute highest probability of giving me food poisoning, I'd just do what you just did.
posted by ikkyu2 at 1:20 PM on March 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


If it tastes ok, eat it. I routinely eat stuff that my biology knowledge tells me must be pretty far up the curve in terms of bacteria growth, but I have never gotten sick to my stomach from it.

Build up an immunity to the tamer food-borne illness now or you'll regret it after the collapse whenyou have to eat dumpster food.
posted by OldReliable at 1:24 PM on March 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'd eat it provided the cat hadn't gotten to it already.
posted by xiojason at 1:28 PM on March 16, 2007


As a side note to the haters, that mayonaise has everything short of penicillin in it to keep it preserved. That tuna was cooked, canned and treated too. It has spent ten hours out. What could possibly be wrong with it?

Unless you are an elderly person with a compromised immune system you will not have a problem. I will personally mail you a new sandwich if you get sick.
posted by OldReliable at 1:30 PM on March 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Well, it is in a ziplock bag. But still, I'd just toss it. I'm not elderly, but I do have stomach issues. It's a tuna sammich, not some exotic dish from overseas. I just say dump it and take the 3 minutes to make a new one that will be fresh and delicious, minus the worrying. I mean really...for tuna?

I guess I'm a hater, but I'll be the hater up watching the tourney instead of hunched over in pain.
posted by cashman at 1:40 PM on March 16, 2007


I will personally mail you a new sandwich if you get sick.

Dear AskMe: I got a sandwich in the mail. Is it safe to eat?
posted by phatkitten at 1:41 PM on March 16, 2007 [5 favorites]


Kraft seems to think you should eat it within 2 hours:

Once KRAFT Mayo (or its varieties) is mixed with ingredients such as vegetables, meat, tuna, eggs, etc., the acidity of the product breaks down the mixture.

Be careful especially with protein foods like eggs, meat, seafood and poultry which can spoil if left at room temperature for more than 2 hours; product that has set out for a longer period of time should be discarded.


So sayeth Kraft.
posted by acoutu at 2:03 PM on March 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Eat it. Eaaaaaatt Iiiiiit!

That's what I would do, to my wife's great dismay
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 2:08 PM on March 16, 2007


I'd eat it. And have!
posted by theredpen at 2:09 PM on March 16, 2007


I made lots of egg salad and tuna sandwiches as a kid, which I routinely took to school to eat several hours later. Sometimes I wouldn't get to them until supper time. I ate them.
posted by smorange at 2:12 PM on March 16, 2007


My guess is that you've never had food poisoning because, if you had, you would not be asking this question. You would just throw the thing out. Food poisoning is seriously, seriously, seriously not fun. Seriously.
posted by SampleSize at 2:30 PM on March 16, 2007


I'm unsure of why there are so many 'should I eat it questions' on askme. It strikes me as odd that people with enough intelligence to operate a computer, use language and other related skills cannot distinguish the edible from the non-edible.

That said, eat the damned sandwich already.
posted by elwoodwiles at 2:36 PM on March 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Kraft seems to think you should eat it within 2 hours:

If I were one of Kraft's lawyers I'd try to get that recommendation down to just 1 hour.
posted by vacapinta at 2:37 PM on March 16, 2007


This is bound to happen again, so if you don't eat it, at least experiment with it. Bring it to work on Monday and put it in the break room refrigerator with a sign on it saying "Do Not Eat." Observe.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 2:38 PM on March 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


For what it's worth, the time I had salmonella, we never were able to specifically pinpoint the culprit food, but most likely it was sandwich fixings left out on a table for a few hours, maybe 3-4 hours. Cheese, mayo, and I forget what else. Eating that stuff was in no way worth the pain that followed.

"My guess is that you've never had food poisoning because, if you had, you would not be asking this question. You would just throw the thing out."

Exactly. And yet I am married to the guy who eats anything and doesn't care.
posted by litlnemo at 2:50 PM on March 16, 2007


I've had food poisoning a few times, so I'm highly paranoid about food life spans....

But my guess is that it will be perfectly fine and if you've ever had tuna or chicken salad at a restaurant, believe me it's been "made" for longer than 2 hours.

If it bothers you too much, just toss it and make a new one.
posted by melt away at 2:53 PM on March 16, 2007


Just to clarify my earlier point, I have had food poisoning many times. It's miserable, no worse possible feeling than uncontrollable vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. Yet I will consistently err on the side of eating questionable food rather than not eating it. Why? Because my empiric research on the subject demonstrates that well over 90% of questionably spoiled food will *not* cause bloody diarrhea. So when I hear you food poisonazis tell me not to eat that week old chicken, I will greedily gulp it down laughing the whole time, safe in the knowledge that 9 times out of 10 I *won't* end up in the hospital.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 3:02 PM on March 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'd eat it. Don't deprive yourself!
posted by lostburner at 3:15 PM on March 16, 2007


"But I probably would put it in the fridge tonight, and eat it tomorrow. But, uh, I guess that's bad."

Well with all that Airborne in your system, you could probably gulp down anthrax and be okay. Plus, you do have the advantage of being a superhero;)

(I keed, eat it already. If it were a scallop, like the one that got me from Dean and Deluca, then I would advise against)
posted by vronsky at 3:33 PM on March 16, 2007


I've eaten some pretty questionable things but this isn't even high up on the list. Every day for years I had an egg salad or tuna sandwhich for lunch in high school - which was made the night before and left sitting out until I got around to eating it the next day. I never once got sick.
posted by bradbane at 3:33 PM on March 16, 2007


Well, its 6:33 pm here on the east coast .... (not sure where you are) so, you gonna eat it?
posted by R. Mutt at 3:35 PM on March 16, 2007


I think you'll know in your gut whether to eat it once you see it and pick it up.
posted by lampoil at 3:56 PM on March 16, 2007


you dont need to refrigerate butter.

Don't need to, no, but I use very little butter, and it goes rancid very slowly in the fridge.
posted by solid-one-love at 4:08 PM on March 16, 2007


Several weeks back, I used about half of some tuna salad I had made a couple of days prior to make a tuna melt. This was around 7 p.m. I forgot to put the other half of tuna salad back in the refrigerator. It sat in an uncovered container until around 7 a.m. the next morning, which was when I put it back in the frig. That same day, again around 7 p.m, I used the "left out" tuna salad in another tuna melt. No food poisioning ensued. Take that for what you will.
posted by nooneyouknow at 4:47 PM on March 16, 2007


People are so paranoid about stuff like this. I'd eat it. I've eaten it. Hell, I've eaten it the next day. Numbers of days with stomach upset or food poisoning in my life? 32 years on. Zero. I love warm mayo. Mmmmmmm.....
posted by brautigan at 4:48 PM on March 16, 2007


IANAD, but if you don't eat that, we're all gonna come to your house and call you a wuss.

EAT THE SANDWICH, EAT THE SANDWICH
posted by Greg Nog at 4:49 PM on March 16, 2007


Did you eat it? Should we call the hospitals near Redmond?
posted by melt away at 5:10 PM on March 16, 2007


It's miserable, no worse possible feeling than uncontrollable vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea.

How about all that, plus having people mocking you on mefi for eating the damn sandwich?

And maybe someone flicking you in the ear?
posted by davejay at 5:10 PM on March 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


After leaving out the tuna sandwich all day in a ziploc you're in serious danger.... of having a soggy sandwich. Otherwise it's probably fine.
posted by nadise at 5:13 PM on March 16, 2007


Although I agree with people who say it is probably safe, you cannot reliably distinguish between contaminated food and uncontaminated food by looking and smelling. If you are worried about it, and can afford to waste food, toss it out. Peace of mind and all that.
posted by owhydididoit at 5:29 PM on March 16, 2007


Smell it. Eat it if it still smells normal.
posted by chundo at 8:44 PM on March 16, 2007


It's probably fine, but if you're on the fence, why not scrape off the tuna & microwave it in a bowl for two minutes to kill any nasties, then butter the bread, spread the tuna back on, add cheese, and grill the sucker?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:52 PM on March 16, 2007


In case that wasn't clear, I meant nuke the tuna but not the bread, then reassemble & grill. Add cheese & tomato for toasty goodness.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:59 PM on March 16, 2007


I'd eat that. However, I also frequently suffer crippling stomach pain.
posted by The Straightener at 9:03 PM on March 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


If money is that tight, I'll send you two dollars NOT to eat it! ;P
posted by JujuB at 9:03 PM on March 16, 2007


Honestly, I'm a little uncomfortable that we live in a world where people wonder about that kind of thing. Eat the sandwich! Eat it tomorrow! Eat it in two days! I've done it, millions of others have and would. STOP WORRYING ABOUT IT.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:58 PM on March 16, 2007


I honestly have no freakin' idea why ANYONE would tell you to eat that sandwich. SO SO SO soggy! Feed it to a neighbor, or better yet, a little sister.
posted by metasav at 10:22 PM on March 16, 2007


seiryuu: Do please follow this up and tell us if you died, won't you?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:43 PM on March 16, 2007


I second the melt idea. Heat to 165 and serve!
posted by rosswald at 10:50 PM on March 16, 2007


I think the real question here is whether or not you would *want* to eat it. Soggy, warm, day old tuna in a yellowed mayonnaise pool on a cat-accessible counter? Yum!
posted by iamkimiam at 12:20 AM on March 17, 2007


Hell, safer than eating Quizno's...
posted by opsin at 3:43 AM on March 17, 2007


THE INTERNET SAYS EAT IT.
posted by Harry at 5:24 AM on March 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Was the tuna in the fridge beforehand? If so I'd eat it, if not I'd sell it on ebay.
posted by furtive at 11:51 AM on March 17, 2007


If money is that tight, I'll send you two dollars NOT to eat it! ;P

JujuB,

I accidentally left a roast (Kobe) beef sandwich on the counter a week ago. I hate to see the $100 go to waste, so I'm thinking about eating it. It's a pretty desperate situation, see.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 3:02 PM on March 17, 2007


Clyde Mnestra, you made me spit on my monitor from laughing. I'm sending you a bill.

That's probably the best value solution. If you are tight on money for tuna, you probably can't afford to be sick and miss work, have people steal your food at work, or go to the movies for entertainment.
posted by yohko at 6:23 PM on March 17, 2007


I'm going to chime in and say not to eat it, do you really not have the time to make another one.
posted by bigmusic at 6:58 PM on March 17, 2007


Didja eat it? Didja live?
posted by cashman at 7:51 AM on March 19, 2007


I still want to know. Bonus points if he STILL hasn't eaten it, but is going to.
posted by lostburner at 1:17 PM on March 21, 2007


boooooo I hope you ate that sammich.
posted by Lizc at 1:13 PM on April 16, 2007


Are you dead?
posted by dersins at 4:48 PM on November 1, 2007


Do I owe you a new sandwich?
posted by OldReliable at 1:30 PM on November 8, 2007


Are you dead?

I'm assuming the answer to that is "Yes."
posted by dersins at 10:27 AM on January 4, 2008


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