Too gross to eat?
October 23, 2009 4:59 AM   Subscribe

Can I still eat this steak even though ants have already partaken?

Oh, I'm angry. I grilled some sirloin steaks to perfection, put them on a plate...and then the phone rang. I left the plate on the kitchen counter for a long time (the conversation went on for about an hour and I forgot about the meat). When I came back, I saw a few ants on the plate. Gross! I did see a few (like 3) ants actually crawling ON the steaks. I did the first thing that came to mind- took the steaks to the sink and washed them off. I dried them off with paper towels, wrapped them in foil and put them in the fridge.

Can I eat these steaks? SHOULD I eat them? I think I can get past the gross-out factor. It was only a few ants. I don't know how washing the steaks (quick rinse under the faucet) will affect the taste, but I'm willing to give it a try. Should I heat them up and have at them?
posted by shelayna to Food & Drink (28 answers total)
 
Oh I'm sure there will be 500 responses about the creepy things ants crawl through and the dangers of leaving meat on the counter for an hour.

Regardless, I'd eat 'em.

I would personally have not rinsed them off either, but then I season the heck out of my grilled meats.
posted by TomMelee at 5:07 AM on October 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure what you are afraid of, here. Some sort of virus carried on tiny ant feet?

Go for it.
posted by rokusan at 5:07 AM on October 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


The only considerations I can think of is if you have some sort of poison based ant trap in the immediate area, otherwise I wouldn't worry about.
Heck if it was me I woulda just thrown the steaks back on the grill for a couple seconds and grilled the little buggers medium rare.
posted by Redmond Cooper at 5:12 AM on October 23, 2009


1. ServSafe/Cook answer: No.
2. Personal Home/Backpacker/Camping/Grill Master answer: Hell Yeah... though you shouldn't have washed them.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:15 AM on October 23, 2009


You could've eaten the ants too.
posted by electroboy at 5:22 AM on October 23, 2009 [8 favorites]


Yeah, I realize now that I shouldn't have rinsed them off. But it was just instinctive- like, gross, ants! It was just a quick rinse, how would that have killed any "ant bacteria" anyway? Pretty dumb of me, I know. I'm probably going to eat them. I like the idea of heating up the grill and throwing them back on for a minute.
posted by shelayna at 5:23 AM on October 23, 2009


I wouldn't worry about it at all. Personally, I view ants as nature's janitors - they clean up when I can't be bothered to.
posted by rhymer at 5:29 AM on October 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would have just brushed off the ants and ate them. but then I don't really consider ants dirty. not like flies are.

Ants just seem to organised to be dirty.
posted by mary8nne at 5:31 AM on October 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'd eat them. If there are ants in your vicinity, chances are they've crawled on your food before without you knowing.
posted by fire&wings at 5:33 AM on October 23, 2009


Ants are really quite tasty, and I've never heard them described as a vector for human disease.
posted by HFSH at 5:43 AM on October 23, 2009


People actually eat ants. heck in boca in florida i saw a sweets show actually selling chocolate covered ants. so i say eat it.
posted by majortom1981 at 5:54 AM on October 23, 2009


If I recall correctly, I remember reading that the formic acid on ants' feetses mean they're one of the cleaner things to touch one's food.
posted by cobaltnine at 5:56 AM on October 23, 2009


Ants are an intermediate step in the life cycle of various mammal liver flukes, so they do carry disease; cook 'em if you're going to eat them. As for the steaks: as long as the ants are off it, go ahead and eat it. Seconding, however, that if some neighbor dusted ant powder around their house, it might not be a good thing, but there is such a trace amount it shouldn't be a big concern.
posted by AzraelBrown at 6:03 AM on October 23, 2009


Ants are really quite tasty

Seconded. I ate ant as a condiment (hot!) in Venezuela. Eat the steak.
posted by dmt at 6:09 AM on October 23, 2009


Ants are no big deal. I'd be much more concerned about leaving meat at room temperature for an hour. I would probably not eat the steak.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:25 AM on October 23, 2009


Dude, I don't even know if I would've brushed the ants off. ETMFSA.
posted by dirtdirt at 6:35 AM on October 23, 2009 [3 favorites]




Dude, I don't even know if I would've brushed the ants off. ETMFSA.
posted by dirtdirt

Eponysterical.
posted by electroboy at 6:52 AM on October 23, 2009


shelayna: I don't know how washing the steaks (quick rinse under the faucet) will affect the taste

This probably the saddest part of the tale. You most likely washed off a lot of the crusty goodness. From a "cleanliness" standpoint, I think your best route would have been to cook 'em off on the grill again for about 30 seconds.
posted by mkultra at 6:55 AM on October 23, 2009


lol@ OptimusChyme...

I grew up in a household where we rarely put meat in the fridge after dinner, and throughout the evening we'd wander in and grab a chunk of whatever was left. Chicken, pork, rare beef, whatever. I think it was our way of avoiding leftovers...once they went in the fridge they didn't come out.

I mean...an hour? Hell, I'd eat a medium rare hamburger after it sat for an hour. In the sun. At a picnic.

but then i'd also eat the potato salad next to it.
posted by TomMelee at 7:09 AM on October 23, 2009


Yeah, I'm with TomMelee. At work, I leave my lunch (chicken, sammiches, etc.) out at room temperature for hours. I'm too lazy to go to the fridge or microwave on the other side of the office, so I just let them sit on my shelf from morning until I'm ready to eat. I also eat yogurt with month-old expiration dates. I haven't died yet.
posted by That takes balls. at 7:40 AM on October 23, 2009


I wouldn't' eat the steak, but that's just because you rinsed it off. Seriously, WTF, you put a cooked steak under tap water because of three ants?! I'm calling the food police and having your steak eating license taken away.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:47 AM on October 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


I've eaten straight-up ants, right off the wall. You'll live.
posted by dozo at 8:10 AM on October 23, 2009


Well leaving the steaks to rest is a good idea even if you forgot about it for an hour. I'm with Brandon Blatcher though. I wouldn't eat the steaks because you rinsed it off and now I bet it tastes like some Oliver Twist orphanage meats.
posted by spec80 at 10:44 AM on October 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ants are no big deal. I'd be much more concerned about leaving meat at room temperature for an hour. I would probably not eat the steak.

Oh come on. Many people in the world pack their lunch in the morning and proceed to safely live through eating anything from tuna salad to cold spaghetti to roast beef sandwiches hours later.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:48 AM on October 23, 2009


I usually leave a raw steak on the counter for an hour or so before grilling so it isn't cold in the center.
posted by electroboy at 11:31 AM on October 23, 2009


Ooh ooh ooh! My favorite ex-husband was really into bugs: studied them, keep them as pets. Once when my kids were pre-schoolers, we were eating some watermelon, but there were a lot of flies around.

Kids: Waah! Mommy! The flies are eating the watermelon.
FxH: (Science!) No, no -- they're not eating it, they're just tasting it, with their feet!
Kids:
Me: Omigod I love you.
posted by Methylviolet at 3:25 PM on October 23, 2009


Update: We grilled the steaks for a few more seconds, and they were DELICIOUS. Weren't harmed by ants or water. Thanks for making me feel better about eating them, guys. Oh, and I had no problem eating meat left on the counter for an hour. I see that some people wouldn't do that, but it doesn't bother me a bit.
posted by shelayna at 9:12 AM on October 24, 2009


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