Checkin' on my chicken
March 28, 2013 5:20 PM   Subscribe

I just cooked a bunch of chicken but had left it on the countertop for one hour in my 75 degree apartment (forgot while running errand). The USDA does not recommend this. Should I eat it? Specifics: they are drumsticks, had thawed overnight in the fridge but were still not totally defrosted, and were cooked for 50 minutes in the oven at 400 degrees.
posted by kettleoffish to Food & Drink (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Sorry... should have made it clear... they were left DEFROSTING on the countertop...
posted by kettleoffish at 5:21 PM on March 28, 2013

Does that hour include cool-down and resting time after cooking? Is your apartment fly free?

I'd eat it.
posted by matty at 5:22 PM on March 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

ohhhhhhh..... It's fine. I leave my steaks out to warm to room temperature before throwing on the grill, but if ya wanna get technical if the internal temp of the chicken reached 'x' degrees recommended by 'x' sources, I'd say your fine.

I'd still eat it.
posted by matty at 5:23 PM on March 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

I would eat it, but I am probably less picky about food safety than many people...that said, I have never gotten food poisoning!
posted by rainbowbrite at 5:25 PM on March 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

I just ate a chicken sandwich that was in my car for 6's about 55 degrees here.
posted by cairnoflore at 5:26 PM on March 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

If you gave a dinner party and everyone was talking over dinner, someone's chicken might sit on their plate for an hour while they chatted, and they'd take a bite of it every once in a while. Honestly, I have trouble believing this whole "food must be consumed within moments after cooking or it IS POISON" line that seems to be going around currently.
posted by Frowner at 5:26 PM on March 28, 2013 [23 favorites]

I'd totally eat it.
posted by OmieWise at 5:44 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Just to confirm what I understand the order to be here....

1.) Frozen chicken goes in fridge overnight (18hrs-ish)
2.) Mostly thawed chicken stays on countertop for 75 mins
3.) Chicken goes in 400F oven for 50 mins
4.) Chicken is still hot/warm?

I would eat it. I'd also recommend to you to eat it even though it spent 75 minutes in "danger" my reasons for this are as follows:

* Very few people get sick from chicken that is cooked through, even though...
* lots and lots and lots of people just thaw their chicken all the way through on the counter for a few hours.
* When making lots of different large cuts of meat (and even some smaller one) it is often recommended to bring the meat to room temperature first (how else do you do that besides leaving it on the counter?).
* 50 minutes at 400F is well more than enough for bone in drumsticks. I assume you didn't check on a thermometer, but I'd bet those babies got up over 185F in that time. Plenty high enough to kill off even a larger than normal bacterial load.

My only caveat to you might be to be wary of leftovers. I eat cold chicken all the damn time, but that's when I know that it was handled properly all the way through _my_ control over it. If you were planning to make chicken salad with the extras, I'd probably skip that -- heat any extras up again, and eat them within a day or so.
posted by sparklemotion at 5:50 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd eat it, and I am quite particular about what I eat because I spent 8 days in the hospital with food poisoning once.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:52 PM on March 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

It was fully cooked and left out for an hour?

Unless you'd refuse to eat at a buffet, or you'd refuse to eat a sandwich prepared at home and brought to a picnic and immediately eaten, or you'd refuse it to eat at a leisurely dinner... just eat it.
posted by Kololo at 5:58 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I know defrosting in the fridge is the orthodox method but I quite often defrost on the counter for 5 or 6 hours and then cook it. No harm done, never got sick. Your chicken is fine.
posted by beagle at 6:00 PM on March 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Assuming they were cooked properly, yes, 1 hour at room temperature is fine. The rule for food service is 4 hours, cumulative, in the "temperature danger zone" which is 40 deg f to 140 deg f. It sounds like you did not do that.

The trouble with defrosting on the counter is that the outside of the meat, where all the nasties live, will spend tons of time in this zone while the inside of the food is still frozen.

The reason for this is that IF there are bacteria in the meat, that's long enough for a small amount of bacteria to grow into a large enough colony to make someone sick. Properly cooked, the colony will be killed. However, the toxins they produced will still be in the meat and can still make you sick. Botulism is the extreme example, which is one of the most deadly substances known.

Chicken is much cleaner than it used to be, so the concerns aren't as big as they once were, but it's not hard to follow good food safely practices and not getting violent dysentery is a good thing.

Plus, meat that spends too much time at room temperature starts to break down in weird ways. I don't think poultry reacts well to aging past whatever they do at the processing plant.
posted by gjc at 6:25 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm pretty blase about food safety, but I have noticed that a distant family member prepares meat for dinner every night and defrosts it by putting it out on the counter when she leaves for work in the morning. It therefore sits out on the counter the entire day. She does this every day and I have heard nothing of her family getting food poisoning.

I don't abide by this practice myself as I don't often prepare meat, but it's a data point. I suspect the USDA's guidelines are quite conservative.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 6:32 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would eat this and not think twice.
posted by gnutron at 6:35 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would totally eat that chicken. No qualms.
posted by ZabeLeeZoo at 7:19 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you don't eat it, I'll eat it.
posted by kalessin at 7:43 PM on March 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

posted by Specklet at 8:43 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Partially frozen drumsticks left on counter in 75 degree ambient temperature for an hour and then fully cooked. If this description is correct, then the only way you're in danger is if your immune system is so compromised that you died last year. Wait, you're already dead. So eat it already. (No, srsly, you're fine.)
posted by bricoleur at 8:46 PM on March 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Reader, I ate it.
posted by kettleoffish at 8:51 PM on March 28, 2013 [8 favorites]

I'm more concerned with the fact that you cooked it for 50 minutes at 400 degrees. What could possibly have possessed you? 325 for 50 minutes should have done the trick. The goal is an internal temp of 160.
posted by Gungho at 6:52 AM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

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