Must I throw out fish stew left out?
December 8, 2012 4:22 PM   Subscribe

Do I have to throw out fish stew left overnight by mistake?

Grrr. I left a whole pot of it on the stove (turned off) after serving some of it. It's 24 hours later. It has tilapia, some white wine, some butter and some milk. It smells fine. It was covered. The kitchen is at room temperature (around 72o)

What will happen if we eat it? if we boil it for awhile will it be okay?
posted by Obscure Reference to Health & Fitness (27 answers total)
I often eat soup left out overnight and I haven't had problems yet.

If it smells fine, I say boil it and go for it.
posted by cyml at 4:26 PM on December 8, 2012

Are you worried because it's fish? I generally have no problem with leaving a covered pot of soup overnight and, in fact, do it pretty often because I'm sort of lazy like that. I'm with cyml, if it smells fine, then it should be plenty edible.
posted by Geppp at 4:35 PM on December 8, 2012

I'm worried because it's fish, and milk, and butter (there are vegetables in there too, but I'm less worried about them).

Nice to hear that death is not assumed as the probably outcome of eating this stew.
posted by DMelanogaster at 4:36 PM on December 8, 2012

Folks, the OP said 24 hours, not just overnight. If this were a restaurant and it weren't thrown out and the inspectors knew about it, there would be big trouble. That says something about what the condition of the food could be. But since the OP is presumably just talking about eating it him/herself, an appropriate answer might be "do so at your own risk of getting an upset stomach". This is really a personal cost/risk choice.
posted by Dansaman at 4:40 PM on December 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Bin that tainted goo and have a taco.
posted by elizardbits at 4:40 PM on December 8, 2012 [6 favorites]

The FDA recommends putting cooked food into the refrigerator within 2 hours. This is, to be sure, a conservative figure. I think of it as the time when the risk of food poisoning begins, not when it becomes assured. Then again, I can't think of a dish more apt to cause food poisoning than fish stew. And we're talking about 24 HOURS, not 2, or 4, or even 12 hours.
posted by hhc5 at 5:05 PM on December 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

I've found that I can't fully enjoy a meal if I'm worried about whether it will make me sick. By that standard, there's no way I'd eat that stew.
posted by agropyron at 5:08 PM on December 8, 2012 [8 favorites]

Yeah I wouldn't eat that.
posted by 2bucksplus at 5:13 PM on December 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Do a smell test. If it smells weird assume its bad.
I think the fish isn't really an issue since its cooked - raw fish left out would be a problem on the 'food poisoning' scale , as such tho I think your more on the side of upset stomach only; those ingredients if gone bad will smell and taste bad. So just smell or taste a bit of it.
posted by Kololo at 5:27 PM on December 8, 2012

For the eleventy hundredth time, the "smell test" is a myth.

The vast majority of people who get food poisoning were eating food that smelt and tasted fine. Most microbes that can make you sick don't have a discernably bad smell.
posted by dontjumplarry at 5:28 PM on December 8, 2012 [16 favorites]

Yeah, but if it smells bad you definitely shouldn't eat it. So in that sense, the smell test is not a myth.

Forgot on the stove (or lazy like cyml and Geppp) overnight wouldn't be a problem for me, but 24 hours? Yech, let it go. I'd worry enough to cause psychosomatic stomach problems, even if it wasn't the stew making me sick.

Food tastes better without worry anyway.
posted by carsonb at 5:32 PM on December 8, 2012

I just came home from a food safety course so I will say... Don't eat it!!!

Many toxins produced by microbes are tasteless, colourless and odourless. Needless to say, these toxins have unpleasant side effects.
Also! The bacteria are growing, doubling in number every twenty minutes. Now, assuming you started with one 24 hours ago (and that's IF you brought the stew up to 74C when you cooked it) you now have a stew with many millions of microbes swimming in it. They love warm, wet places with lots of protein. So, yeah. Don 't eat it.
posted by meringue at 5:41 PM on December 8, 2012 [9 favorites]

I'm really robust about the things I will try, but I wouldn't try that. The fact that it was covered is a plus, but it's been in a warmish room for 24 hours. It probably won't even taste very good.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:07 PM on December 8, 2012

I would NOT eat that. No way.
posted by gnutron at 6:07 PM on December 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

I would throw that out.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Sockpuppetry at 6:08 PM on December 8, 2012

So you cooked soup - it reached boiling temperature for quite a while. It should be sterile. The only window of introducing microbes was during the brief serving time, then it was covered up. No bugs are going to fall into the soup.

I'd say go for it. Pasteur had a jar of cooked chicken soup sitting around for decades and it was still good.

If I left some uncooked seafood out, I'd definitely not eat that.
posted by porpoise at 6:22 PM on December 8, 2012

Best answer: Don't eat it.

Permit me to direct you to the food temperature danger zone. Your food sat at the danger zone for 24 hours. Ample times for all sorts of things to grow.

Boiling something will kill the living bacteria, but it will not remove the parts of the bacteria that can still make you sick.

Additionally, Pasteur's system was fully boiled and remained sealed afterwards. This fish stew was served afterwards, meaning someone dipped a utensil into it, which can introduce new microbes. Additionally, it's entirely likely that the stew wasn't actually boiled to the point that everything was killed, meaning that the small number of bacteria could continue to grow once the heat was off.
posted by Mercaptan at 7:04 PM on December 8, 2012 [5 favorites]

I would eat this, albeit a bit cautiously. Canned food sits in the "danger zone" for years and it's fine. The canning process involves putting food in a closed container and then boiling it until it's cooked through and sterilized. The soup-making process involves roughly the same thing. A closed container of boiled soup ought to be essentially sterile and shouldn't go bad very quickly at all. You probably introduced some bacteria on whatever your serving implements were, though, so you can't be totally sure.

What I would do here is I would make myself a small bowl of soup and eat it. Meanwhile I would freeze the rest of the soup to keep it from getting any badder if indeed it is on the road to badness. If in a few hours I was showing no sign of stomach distress, I would go ahead and keep that frozen soup. I'd say you have about a 95% chance of it being totally fine, and that's a chance that I would be willing to take, albeit cautiously.
posted by Scientist at 7:17 PM on December 8, 2012

Nooooo, don't eat that.

It MIGHT be fine.

But there is a significant chance that it will leave you begging-for-sweet-relief-of-death sick.

If it had boiled for a long time, covered, then been turned off and left in the room without the pot coming off -- that would be different. But you took it off the heat, introduced germs from the air and the ladle, then covered it and let it sit for 24 hours in the danger zone -- giving those bacteria on that protein-and-sugar-rich substrate a head start from the residual heat of the stove? No, no no no.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:35 PM on December 8, 2012

Don't eat that shizz. Sorry.
posted by kestrel251 at 7:38 PM on December 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

The one time I honestly thought I would prefer to die rather than spend another hour spewing from both ends then collapsing in a flop sweat on the bathroom floor, it was food poisoning from seafood. It's the sickest I've ever been in my life. Nothing in this world could induce me to take a risk of feeling like that again. Which is to say: Don't eat it.
posted by HotToddy at 8:10 PM on December 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: ya i eat lots of stuff that would probably upset the askme community but even I wouldn't eat this...
posted by saraindc at 5:06 AM on December 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Throw it out. This one's a no-brainer.
posted by ellF at 6:03 AM on December 9, 2012

I've had food poisoning from cooked fish left at room temperature for a day. I was sick for a week (until I went to a clinic).

BTW, using the "smell test" to determine if something is safe to eat or not is laughably, barfably dumb.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:52 AM on December 9, 2012

Yep. I think things like the linked "food temperature danger zone" linked are alarmist propaganda (beef cooked to at least 145? Really? Enjoy your shoe leather) and even I wouldn't eat fish soup left out at room temperature for that long!

Survey says: THROW AWAY
posted by Justinian at 12:21 PM on December 9, 2012

Toss it. Why not err on the side of safety?
posted by Splunge at 2:37 PM on December 9, 2012

it reached boiling temperature for quite a while. It should be sterile.

This is true only if you processed it in a pressure cooker for the recommended amount of time. Boiling does not kill bacterial spores, which are commonly found in food. Pressure cookers are the only way to sterilize soup so that it is safe to leave for twenty-four hours at room temperature.
posted by Ery at 10:12 AM on December 10, 2012

« Older Name this crochet stitch!   |   How To Deal With My Parents' Fighting? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.