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should i eat this?
September 28, 2007 8:19 AM   Subscribe

Should I eat this?

I left a sandwich in my car this morning, unfortunately on the back deck (sedan). Contents of sandwich: wheat bread, yellow mustard, fat free mayo, precooked breaded chicken patty, american cheese. Wrapped in white paper towel inside clear plastic bag. Outside conditions: sunny, 72 deg. windows rolled up. As of now it has been out there almost three hours. Is it safe to eat, or should I make other lunch plans?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders to Food & Drink (56 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Eat it.
posted by Pecinpah at 8:20 AM on September 28, 2007


It won't kill you, certainly, but it may not be too appetizing - especially the warm mayo.
posted by wsp at 8:23 AM on September 28, 2007


Eat it, it's fine.
posted by Verdandi at 8:23 AM on September 28, 2007


Well, I sure wouldn't try it (warm mayo? eww!) but they're right, it probably won't kill you. So, standard response to these questions:

"Eat it!"
posted by DMan at 8:25 AM on September 28, 2007


Eat it.
posted by xammerboy at 8:25 AM on September 28, 2007


In restaurants, the standard time to allow food products to sit outside the safe zone (~32-40F to 140-160F depending on the food) is 4 hours. You should live.
posted by jmd82 at 8:26 AM on September 28, 2007


Ewwwwwwwwwww, make other plans. Mayo is the Picnic Murderer for a reason- it encourages the growth of the beasties that live in the various -salads made with it; it's bacteria food. Chicken + mayo = megasalmonella.
posted by headspace at 8:26 AM on September 28, 2007


Eat it.
posted by zackola at 8:28 AM on September 28, 2007


It's fine, eat it.
posted by ottereroticist at 8:28 AM on September 28, 2007


How warm was it inside your car? If the inside of your car was around 72° as well, I'd probably eat it. If the car was significantly warmer due to, say, being in direct sunlight, I might think twice.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:29 AM on September 28, 2007


Smell it. Your nose was made for this. If a bad smell is detected, do not eat it.
posted by poppo at 8:30 AM on September 28, 2007


Eat it.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:31 AM on September 28, 2007


The 4 hours outside the safe zone that jmd82 mentioned is a good measure that allows a significant margin of error. I'd eat it.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 8:42 AM on September 28, 2007


Mayo plus warm chicken = salmonella? Sayswhatnow? You might get lots of things from bad mayo (and I'd argue that fat free mayo isn't mayo @ all), but salmonella isn't one of them, and you might get *something* from a prebreaded ribmeatleftovers patty, but it wouldn't be something transmitted by the fecal matter of living birds.

Unless you made it after not washing your hands after going number 2 (and smearing feces on your fingers), dipped a sinkified dirty knife that had yesterdays mayo on it into todays mayo, and prepared it on a cutting board still covered in post-chicken-deboning-juice, you'll be just fine. Seriously.
posted by TomMelee at 8:46 AM on September 28, 2007


Eat it.
posted by bigmusic at 8:48 AM on September 28, 2007


Does it come across to you as all yummy and delightful, or is it soggy, warm and unappealing? I think if you can you should use the tiny potential that it could give you salmonellosis as an excuse to feed it to a possum and go eat something appetizing not involving fat-free mayonnaise and American cheese. It's Friday!

But if you can't go to Chez Panisse today and you've been fantasizing about this sandwich and its little precooked breaded chicken song sounds like beautiful music, then what the hey, eat it. Honestly if your sandwich were in within reach I would totally eat it this very minute.
posted by Don Pepino at 8:48 AM on September 28, 2007


Go for it!
posted by foodgeek at 8:53 AM on September 28, 2007


Fat-free mayo really isn't mayo, it's "mayonnaise-type dressing" and doesn't have the same risks as good old-fashioned real mayo. I would suspect that the chicken, being a precooked patty, is far removed from its germ-breeding potential. And let's not overlook the fact that it hasn't really been that long and it's not hot outside. You'll be fine. It may be a little tired-tasting from its exposure but you could pop it in a microwave for thirty seconds and pretend that that's how it was supposed to be in the first place.
posted by wallaby at 9:02 AM on September 28, 2007


Salmonella isn't the concern. Staph aureus sitting there in your mayo making a pre-formed, heat-resistant toxin is the real concern. Then again, eat up.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 9:03 AM on September 28, 2007


Eat it.
posted by Uncle Jimmy at 9:06 AM on September 28, 2007


Isn't this in the FAQ yet?

There are always two camps of thought on "eat it?" questions:

1) it will not kill you. eat it.

2) it probably costs less than $5 to replace. why take any chances?

My suggestion is to suck it.
posted by GuyZero at 9:14 AM on September 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


There are always two camps of thought on "eat it?" questions:

The relative sizes of the two camps vary with the individual question, however.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:20 AM on September 28, 2007


Try it. You might decide to do this every day. Solar oven. You could eventually write the cookbook.
posted by yesster at 9:22 AM on September 28, 2007


Eat it. And never Ask Metafilter whether you should eat stuff, GuyZero has it just about right.
posted by fire&wings at 9:33 AM on September 28, 2007


As an aside, real fresh mayonnaise actually kills bacteria at room temperature due to the high acidity.
posted by Caviar at 9:34 AM on September 28, 2007


I vote "eat it", but I'm also casting a "don't eat it" vote for cortex, who's in the bathroom, so it's a wash.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:37 AM on September 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'd probably eat it It hasn't had long enough to get really vile. I wouldn't wait too much longer, though.
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:39 AM on September 28, 2007


Hey, if you don't want it, I'll take it.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 9:39 AM on September 28, 2007


You "eat it" people are ALL out of your god damn minds.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:41 AM on September 28, 2007


Eat it!

(disclaimer—I didn't read the "more inside" before I formed this opinion. And once I did, I didn't change my mind. Also, I'm a vegetarian, so my food-safety estimations regarding chicken might be wildly off.

Me? I wouldn't eat it, but you should.)
posted by klangklangston at 9:42 AM on September 28, 2007


Eat it. Tell us if you live. Or if you can find a way to tell us you haven't lived (ParanormalFilter?), tell us that, too.
posted by raconteur at 9:43 AM on September 28, 2007


I prefer to think of my (and the others') answers as a sort of permission for Flanders to participate in the ongoing science experiment that is "Shall I eat it, AskMe?"
posted by DMan at 9:45 AM on September 28, 2007


Yeah, most of the skittishness about mayo at room temp is unfounded; too acidic.
posted by craven_morhead at 9:52 AM on September 28, 2007


You "eat it" people are ALL out of your god damn minds.

Actually, it's really a food safety issue from which I've gone through weekend seminar training for. When I mentioned the "safe zone" of four hours, I'm not just making crap up. Our food inspectors were crazy anal about food safety, and the standard is four hours. They enjoy making life living a hell for restaurants and if they think four hours is fine, I reckon their experience and studies outweigh people who think they're of the right mind with nothing to back up their screeching.
posted by jmd82 at 9:53 AM on September 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


I wouldn't eat it myself, but I doubt it will kill you if you do so. Sitting out on the counter for that time is no big deal, but a hot car is kind of like putting the sandwich in an incubator to encourage maximum germ growth. Since sandwiches are cheap, and I'm conservative about eating old food, I would skip it, but not because I think that eating it would be dangerous, just kind of yucky.
posted by Forktine at 9:55 AM on September 28, 2007


All these people saying "eat it" remind me of the movies with the guy on the side of the building. You know? The one where the crowd is chanting "Jump! Jump! Jump!"?

I wouldn't eat it but my tolerance for warm sandwiches several hours old is very low.

So, "Don't jump!".
posted by fox_terrier_guy at 9:55 AM on September 28, 2007


I am going against the grain here and say "don't eat it". It's one thing for the sandwich to be sitting out at room temperature; it's another for a mayo-slathered sandwich to be sitting in a car that was probably about 90F... this is a mad house party for all the bacteria.
posted by rolypolyman at 9:55 AM on September 28, 2007


So you're not really against the grain, roly; you're against the mayo.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:02 AM on September 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


eating it will make you stronger.
posted by brooklynexperiment at 10:03 AM on September 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'd leave it in direct sunlight until it warmed up a bit more, then eat it.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:10 AM on September 28, 2007


The relative sizes of the two camps vary with the individual question, however.

MetaFilter: an active argument against direct democracy.

Followup study: does the relative size of the two camps vary based on who is asking? e.g. cortex should eat the sandwich, but ikkyu2 should not.
posted by GuyZero at 10:21 AM on September 28, 2007


I ate it and I've been on my knees at the toilet for 90 minutes now, cramping and retching. Thanks AskMe.

No, actually I'm fine. The sandwich was unappetizing but that was pretty much the case from the moment I prepared it. Thanks for saving me $5.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 10:27 AM on September 28, 2007


No, actually I'm fine.

Give it time.

Seriously, the "eat it" crowd misses the trees for the forest. You may be fine this time. In fact, you probably will be. But this habit of overlooking even the easiest of precautions will bite someone. Or did you think there's such as thing as "stomach flu," and it's not just food poisoning?

Our food inspectors were crazy anal about food safety, and the standard is four hours.

Because, clearly, bacterium have temperature gauges and wristwatches and can tell the difference between 72 and 90 degrees and 210 minutes vs. 240 minutes, so they know when and when not to start creating their toxins.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:35 AM on September 28, 2007


No, they're stupid anal because they're a) a governmental agency who assumes all americans are as smart as a grain of rice and b)because they don't want sued and c) apparently most americans are slightly less intelligent than a grain of rice.

Unless you're dying of an immunodeficiency, these questions are always "eat it." And if you ARE dying of an immunodeficiency, why are you leaving sandwiches in cars?

Hell, growing up we used to leave MEAT out on the counter OVERNIGHT and eat it in the morning. ZOMG. I don't do that NOW---but...I'm magically still here. (this time.)
posted by TomMelee at 10:44 AM on September 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


Where is JJG when you need him?
posted by edgeways at 11:57 AM on September 28, 2007


Because, clearly, bacterium have temperature gauges and wristwatches and can tell the difference between 72 and 90 degrees and 210 minutes vs. 240 minutes, so they know when and when not to start creating their toxins.

Thanks for the chuckle.

Bacteria don't make a choice of when and how fast to reproduce, it is determined by their environment, hence the scientifically-computed safety zone. And the safety zone for healthy people is probably more like 6-8 hours - if health inspectors peg it at 4, that's going to be a very conservative estimate given what they're responsible for.

Yeah, there's going to be some bacteria in it - there's bacteria in everything. But unless it was already infested at dangerous levels (i.e. the mayo already had massive salmonella growth in it when he made the sandwich this morning), your immune system is going to easily take care of it.

Your germophobia does not make the scientists wrong. It does, however, make your immune system weaker.
posted by chundo at 12:02 PM on September 28, 2007


According to the USDA, perishable foods should not be left out more than 1 hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees (which a car in the sun almost certainly would be). But if it were me , I was hungry, and there were no alternatives, I'd hit eat it.
posted by TedW at 12:11 PM on September 28, 2007


Ever seen that show Kitchen Nightmares? If you haven't, it's a real eye-opener as to what the human body can take without getting ill (and what the back of many kitchens are really like). My point is, it's very likely that you've eaten a whole lot worse without knowing about it millions of times and not gotten sick.
posted by junesix at 12:27 PM on September 28, 2007


Ditto on my parents leaving a roast, or a chicken carcass out overnight, and making sandwiches for the kids the next day with the meat. I ain't no worse for it. Just eat it!
posted by blue_beetle at 12:27 PM on September 28, 2007


fact and Myth--Processed Mayo ( purchased in store ) is thought by most reputable experts to actually retard the growth of bacteria. Home made mayo is another story. Glad you are feeling fine. I believe most of us vastly underestimate our resilience and ability to handle a number of unsavory food products. If it hisses when you open it (can/jar) or smells the least bit off run. Otherwise--good judgment will serve you well
posted by rmhsinc at 1:00 PM on September 28, 2007


Eat it, eat it. You should always eat it. As Cool Papa Bell pointed out above:

You may be fine this time. In fact, you probably will be.

Argument over, always eat the sandwich!
posted by Greg Nog at 1:01 PM on September 28, 2007


Glad you are ok!

Now next time let's try it for 4 hours and see how that goes!
posted by gomichild at 2:51 PM on September 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


on the other hand, if it does make you sick it could feel like someone with steel-toed boots kicking you in the stomach as hard as they can over and over again for several hours. It really really hurts.

(my experience with some tvp, left out for a couple hours after cooking and subsequently refrigerated for 4 days.)
posted by lastobelus at 2:58 PM on September 28, 2007


Ditto on my parents leaving a roast, or a chicken carcass out overnight, and making sandwiches for the kids the next day with the meat. I ain't no worse for it.

The thing with all these questions is you'll probably be okay, but if it goes wrong it goes really wrong. Food poisoning is unpleasant. A restaurant near me just got into a bunch of trouble for giving 18 people food poisoning. It was caused by a traditional Turkish dish which is cooked the night before and then left out overnight to cool. They'd been doing it that way since they opened two years ago and never had any problems.
posted by markr at 5:05 PM on September 28, 2007


Eat it?
posted by Arturus at 8:06 PM on September 28, 2007


Please don't take a chance. Food poisoning is very very unpleasant.
posted by konolia at 10:17 AM on September 29, 2007


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