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July 2, 2013 8:51 AM   Subscribe

Asking for my sister: "Accidentally left the fridge door a crack open last night. Inside was a pound of ground lamb. When discovered this morning, a thermometer registered the meat at 50 degrees. Is the meat ruined, or still within temperature limits?"
posted by deezil to Food & Drink (16 answers total)
Best answer: Per US Dept. of Ag., you should pitch it:
posted by LittleMy at 8:55 AM on July 2, 2013

That's still pretty cool (10C). I'd eat it with no qualms at all.
posted by pipeski at 8:56 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: When I took my food safety course, the rule was that perishables such as meat could spend no more than 4 hours in the "danger zone" of between 40 and 140 degrees after having been cooked.

Personally, I'm generally on the "go ahead and eat it" side of things, but in this case I'd advise you to throw it out.

If it were me, I'd probably give it a thorough examination & sniff test first, but I don't advise you to do that.
posted by gauche at 8:58 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would eat it.
posted by phunniemee at 8:58 AM on July 2, 2013

Ground? Toss.
posted by oceanjesse at 9:02 AM on July 2, 2013 [4 favorites]

If it was a chunk of raw meat I'd say it's fine but ground meat? Hell no. Too much surface for bacteria to grow at that temperature.
posted by joan_holloway at 9:04 AM on July 2, 2013 [4 favorites]

For me, the tipping factor would be that it is ground meat rather than a whole cut. With a whole cut you're searing the outside and killing most or all of the bacteria, so I'd probably keep it and just be more vigilant than usual about cross-contamination (especially with things like tongs that would be used to flip the raw meat on the grill and again to transfer the fully-cooked meat to plates). However if it's ground, any potential bacteria and now bacterial overgrowth are going to be distributed throughout the meat. I probably wouldn't risk it, and I tend to be a little bit lax compared with say the USDA guidelines.
posted by iminurmefi at 9:06 AM on July 2, 2013

You have no way of knowing how long the meat stayed at an internal temperature of 40-50 degrees. Plus, the guidelines are for how long the ENVIRONMENT around the meat stays above 40 degrees. There's an excellent chance that the fridge was at 40 degrees or more for close enough to 4 hours (my small fridge can go above 40 with the door wide open for a couple of minutes), so pitch it.

As others have mentioned, ground meats (and fish) are not something to play the odds on. A pound of lamb is cheap. Toss it.
posted by maudlin at 9:06 AM on July 2, 2013

Cooked? You maybe want to toss it out. Uncooked, you should be okay, as long as you cook to the appropriate temperature.
posted by nikkorizz at 9:09 AM on July 2, 2013

Response by poster: She was watching the thread for replies, and toss was the decision. Thanks for that link LittleMy. Her (and I) will both be bookmarking it.
posted by deezil at 9:11 AM on July 2, 2013

Note that the USDA says that ground meat is only safe in a refrigerator for one or two days anyway, and that's if the temperature is consistently below 40°F. Ground meat is highly perishable — you'll note from the above link that it's in the same "perishability" category as raw seafood. I would toss it.
posted by Johnny Assay at 9:12 AM on July 2, 2013

Toss it.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:21 AM on July 2, 2013

Cook it well done, like in a meat loaf. It's fine.
posted by beagle at 9:40 AM on July 2, 2013

Cooked? You maybe want to toss it out. Uncooked, you should be okay, as long as you cook to the appropriate temperature.

Surely this should be the reverse? However, even if that was the intent of the comment, cooked or uncooked, meat left out at room temperature (40-50 degrees) overnight should not be eaten.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:23 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

"Cook it well done, like in a meat loaf. It's fine."

The concern isn't just that there might be bacteria left alive after cooking, which would be excessively addressed by cooking the meat like a meatloaf. Indeed, even if the bacteria present in just about all meat die in later cooking, which here had plenty of time to grow to high concentrations in the danger zone (between 46 and 146 degrees Fahrenheit), heat resistent spore forming organisms will not necessarily, and the growth of heat sensitive bacteria will still produce all kinds of toxic primary and secondary metabolites as well as cell components that your immune system will freak out over in very unpleasant ways.

This is not worth fucking with.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:43 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd probably eat it if it smelled fine, but I would eat it right away. Whatever little bacterial problems might've gotten started overnight, I would not give them time to compound themselves.
posted by jon1270 at 12:33 PM on July 2, 2013

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