Join 3,572 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Should I Eat This: Velveeta and colby cheeses
September 8, 2004 12:14 AM   Subscribe

Food Poisoning Group Barometer: Do I eat the cheese? [more inside]

Case #1: velveeta. I cracked it open at work, brought it home, left it in a sack for three days unrefrigerated.
Case #2: colby. My Dad brought it over, and put it away with the crackers, instead of the fridge. Never opened. Estimated unrefrigerated time: 12-16 hours.

Likely outcomes if I consume it? Potential dire consequences?

And while we're at it, is Velveeta dairy or petroleum based?
posted by namespan to Food & Drink (21 answers total)
 
Velveeta is stored unrefrigerated, but probably gets a little fonky after a couple of days. Verdict: Only if you melt it. Also, I think it's made from barium, not petrolium.

The colby's fine, although it might have a weird texture if it got too warm.
posted by majick at 12:36 AM on September 8, 2004


Verdict: Only if you melt it.

Wait -- I'm only going to be okay if I melt it, or I'm only going to suffer the pains of the damned if I melt it? This is probably an important point.

And I'm beginning to think I remember my Mom looking up a government phone number when she had questions like this about turkey stuffing or cans of tuna fish that had ballooned to the size/shape of baseballs....
posted by namespan at 12:48 AM on September 8, 2004


"This is probably an important point."

The question was "Do I eat the cheese?", right?

Ditch the colby if it looks greasy on the surface. It won't kill you, but it will taste like crap. The Velveeta, on the other hand, is impervious to all forms of bacterial attack -- or digestion.
posted by majick at 12:53 AM on September 8, 2004


I've taken Velveeta on 1-2 day road trips w/o refrigerating, to no apparent ill effects. But never three days straight.


And while we're at while-we're-at-its, why could my old Chinese roomates put stir-fry in the cupboard after cooking, take it out periodically over the next 2-3 days and eat it with fresh rice, and not get sick?
posted by weston at 1:07 AM on September 8, 2004


The question was "Do I eat the cheese?", right?

Erm, yes. Thanks.

/looks sheepish, decides it may be time to count sheep

posted by namespan at 1:09 AM on September 8, 2004


"and not get sick?"

The human immune system is an incredible thing, isn't it?

No special properties of Chinese food, roommates, or cupboards; it just boils down to an immune system of iron.
posted by majick at 7:27 AM on September 8, 2004


Eat the cheese. My god, it's already milk gone bad. How can it get worse?

There are cheeses that are ripened for months inside a manure pile. There are cheeses that are covered with mold, and cheeses with veins of mold running through them. There are cheeses that are so pre-digested that they are actually liquidy and runny. And some cheeses that are cured in open air for so long they turn as hard as wood, if not rock.

Your Velveeta could probably sit out for a year and not go bad. Your colby can easily sit out for a week and be okay, although it'd be awful hard if left uncovered, and might be a little green if covered.

Hell, is there even any such thing as "cheese poisoning"?
posted by five fresh fish at 7:58 AM on September 8, 2004


Isn't Velveeta sold from the grocery shelves rather than the refrigerated section?
posted by bshort at 8:06 AM on September 8, 2004


Velveeta has a non-refrigerated shelf-life of 9 months, and it can last indefinitely when chilled. My advice- cut off any dry spots or visible mold, keep it in the fridge from here on out, and eat it with impunity.
posted by headspace at 8:55 AM on September 8, 2004


Simply: "When in doubt, throw it out!" (...toss the cheese, please.)
posted by naxosaxur at 9:21 AM on September 8, 2004


I've eaten cheese on camping trips as old as 5 days with no refrigeration whatsoever. It tastes a little weird when it gets warm, but it won't hurt you. If you put it back in the fridge, it'll be fine.
posted by bonheur at 11:20 AM on September 8, 2004


The deal about food poisoning in a case like this is that once a packaged product is opened, bacteria that causes food poisoning may end up there and grow on it. Unopened shelf life is irrelevant. Once opened, it is a possible medium for these little bugs to grow. Refrigeration prevents this from occurring. Heating a product beyond a certain temperature kills the bacteria.

Cheese that has been opened and is left out of the frig is a common source for food poisoning, according to these guys.

My opinion - why take the chance? Toss it and buy some more...
posted by jasper411 at 11:27 AM on September 8, 2004


> The human immune system is an incredible thing, isn't it?

H. sapiens sapiens: ~200,000 years
cheese: >5500 years
refrigerator: 128 years
posted by Eamon at 11:45 AM on September 8, 2004


When I had salmonella it was most likely from cheese that had been left out, though we were never able to be sure. So I'd lean toward throwing the cheese out, just to be safe. Salmonella was NOT fun.
posted by litlnemo at 2:05 PM on September 8, 2004


I love "fonky"!
posted by ParisParamus at 2:08 PM on September 8, 2004


And I'm beginning to think I remember my Mom looking up a government phone number when she had questions like this

Yep. 1-888-SAFEFOOD is the number you can call, but only during east coast business hours, as best as I can suss out. I actually called last year and was pleasantly surprised at how helpful and kind the lady who answered happened to be. Apparently everyone there are food safety technicians or home economists, so they know their stuff.

You can also get a lot of questions answered at the FDA CFSAN Consumer Advice site.
posted by Dreama at 2:42 PM on September 8, 2004 [1 favorite]


I love "fonky"!

Remember to honk!
posted by kindall at 2:51 PM on September 8, 2004


I've had salmonella poisoning, and I wouldn't wish it on the worst person in the world. It is purest living hell.

That said, I wouldn't hesitate to eat cheese that's been out overnight. My god, I go hiking and eat chedder that's been in a backpack for five days straight of 30c weather. It's all sorts of soft and oily, but it's just cheese. Guaranteed to be more hygenic than my hands, that's fersure.

We live in a culture that is much much too afraid of germs. It's an unhealthy paranoia.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:58 PM on September 8, 2004


My family has always been pretty nonchalant about cheese. If we find some mold on it, we slice the moldy part off and eat the rest. No ill effects from this practice have yet been noted.

Looking at jasper411's link, I see that those guys only caution against soft cheeses, and even in that case they say "Listeria ... usually causes no symptoms in the general population. However, it can be harmful to the elderly, unborn children, and those with weak immune systems.... Listeria causes flu-like symptoms from 4 hours to several days."

So unless you're pregnant, I say eat that cheese!
posted by hashashin at 4:24 PM on September 8, 2004


I believe I ate a Brie that was nine or more months past its expiry date. It was in a sealed tin and the tin wasn't bulging, so I figured it would be safe. In all likelihood the datestamp was a "best before" and not an "unsafe after," anyways. Most are.

Anyway, it appears I was right. That, or I'm hangin' with FunkyHelix's sister in that twilight not-alive/not-dead zone.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:36 PM on September 8, 2004


Bonheur, could you email me? I have the answer to your jeans question.

Sorry, namespan.

posted by iconomy at 7:08 PM on September 9, 2004


« Older Can a USB flash drive be used ...   |  Who, in the wonderful world of... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.