Safe to eat turkey bacon left unrefrigerated?
February 2, 2013 4:28 PM   Subscribe

We left a Tupperware tub of turkey bacon on top of the refrigerator for about 12 hours. One package still sealed, one already open. Safe to eat or am I making an early morning run to the grocery store tomorrow?
posted by marxchivist to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Does the package say "keep refrigerated"? If so, 12 hrs out of chill chest is too long. Much better to be safe for the price of a few bucks and bit of inconvenience. But you knew that already.
posted by mightshould at 4:34 PM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am pretty cavalier about this stuff but I wouldn't eat any kind of meat that had been unrefrigerated in a raw state for twelve hours.
posted by something something at 4:58 PM on February 2, 2013

Both okay. Don't make a habit of this, but 12 hours isn't enough time for any bacteria to make the bacon toxic before you actually destroy them with cooking. It's also a cured product-- most bacteria present will be friendly sorts, having out-competed the unfriendly ones. Any bacteria on the slicing machine would be of greater concern.

I'm withholding my comment on the concept of turkey bacon because I don't want to summing the deletion powers that be.
posted by Sunburnt at 5:08 PM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's not exactly raw, and is filled with tons of salt and preservatives. Normally I would say "throw out" but in this case you should be "fine".
posted by KokuRyu at 5:28 PM on February 2, 2013

Best answer: Food safety standards say that anything in the temperature danger zone, 40f-140f, for more than 4 hours should not be eaten.
posted by gjc at 5:41 PM on February 2, 2013

My time -- amounting to less than 30 minutes, really -- running to the market for fresh bacon is far more worthwhile than 24-48-72 hours of food poisoning.

Please plan your morning so that you have a few minutes to get fresh, refrigerated bacon. Fresh, as in not having been left out at room temperature for a day.
posted by vers at 5:54 PM on February 2, 2013

Toss it.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:55 PM on February 2, 2013

I'd toss the open package and thoroughly cook all the bacon from the sealed one right away. Bacon of any type is really salty, enough so that the sealed package should be fine.

Are you taking a chance? Sure, but not much of one IMO.
posted by NoAccount at 6:13 PM on February 2, 2013

Cooking may kill bacteria, but it doesn't kill the chemical toxins that they've produced. And its the toxins that make you sick.

If it says "keep refrigerated", and you left it out at optimal bacterial growth temperatures for 20+ bacterial-population-doubling periods, then throw it out.
posted by Dimpy at 6:17 PM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: 12 hours is plenty of time to make food toxic (exponential growth is magical/terrifying), and many food toxins are not destroyed by cooking. The USDA also does not recommend any non-refrigerated storage of poultry bacon. I would just go get new bacon tomorrow.
posted by en forme de poire at 6:20 PM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

It might not be cured--a lot of "natural" turkey bacon is uncured.

Ugh, please throw this away!
posted by thebazilist at 6:57 PM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

To get an idea of what en forme de poire is talking about, a single cell of E. coli allowed to grow at its fastest speed with access to nutrients and an ability to flush its wastes would be the mass of the Earth within 44 hours. The kinds of exponential growth that room temperature food spoilers do by doubling every 20 minutes is absolutely terrifying.

I tell my microbiology students that they can assume that everything they see, touch, and eat is covered in a thin film of fecal matter; and this especially includes your turkey bacon, which ultimately came from a creature with an ass. The small numbers of bacteria that were on your bacon when you bought it are really not a problem but that is only so long as you don't give them a chance to survive your cooking process or grow and produce toxins. Twelve hours at room temperature is more than enough time to convert way to much of the bacon into:
  • New cells that even dead your body will see as dangerous and freak out in ways you will find very unpleasant
  • Hardy spores that will survive any amount of damage you can do to your bacon while keeping it recognizable as bacon and grow in you to all sorts of unpleasant effects
  • Primary metabolites, or bacteria poop that especially in concentration can be really unpleasant in your gut
  • and
  • Secondary metabolites, or are all of the unpredictable products that unpredictable mix of bacteria use to gain some advantage over each other or specifically you as an unwise mammal that have the potential to really fuck you up, especially if made by some spore forming critter that survived your frying.
  • In a home environment, you really want to toss just about any raw meat product if it has spent three hours at room temperature - including the time it spends getting back down to temperature in your fridge.
    posted by Blasdelb at 1:33 AM on February 3, 2013 [6 favorites]

    If it was real bacon done with a proper dry cure then I wouldn't hesitate to eat it. This is why bacon exists it will keep unrefrigerated for a lot longer than fresh meat.

    This isn't real bacon it is an unholy abomination known as turkey bacon. I wouldn't eat it fresh and certainly not after that long out at room temp. You've essentially got homoginised turkey bits that have been mixed with spiced and salt and formed into strips. Surface area isn't on your side here.
    posted by koolkat at 6:14 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

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