Can I eat it: bacon!
May 29, 2014 3:47 PM   Subscribe

I left an unopened package of bacon on the counter for 24 hours. Can I eat it (after cooking, of course)?

Oscar Meyer thick-cut, if that's relevant. I was a cool day, so it never got above, say 75 F, but it has been a full 24 hours.
posted by MrMoonPie to Food & Drink (47 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Provided it doesn't smell off, I'd eat it. Bacon is cured anyway. Cured foods used to be left out at room temperature pretty much all the time. That's why they got cured in the first place.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:49 PM on May 29, 2014 [9 favorites]

Best answer: As a fairly adventurous eater who is willing to eat around bits of mold on lots of stuff and has been referred to as the family garbage disposal, I'd toss it in a heartbeat.

Just remember, your medical deductible for the food poisoning is a lot more expensive than a $3.49 package of bacon.
posted by arnicae at 3:49 PM on May 29, 2014 [12 favorites]

Sorry. No.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 3:50 PM on May 29, 2014

I'm relaxed about food safety, but I wouldn't eat that. You've gotta draw a line somewhere.
posted by Aranquis at 3:52 PM on May 29, 2014

It's cured meat. Fry it up and eat it.
posted by monospace at 3:53 PM on May 29, 2014 [13 favorites]

No way. Bin it.
posted by gnutron at 3:53 PM on May 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It's fine. Confirm with a smell test, cook it crisp. But cook it all at once. You can use it over a couple of days in salads and BLTs.
posted by beagle at 3:54 PM on May 29, 2014 [3 favorites]

Oh God, I will eat a lot of questionable things but I would put that directly in the dumpster or trash can outside, I wouldn't even want it hanging around in my house in the trash.
posted by jabes at 3:56 PM on May 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

...although this guy ate it and lived to tell the tale.
posted by jabes at 4:00 PM on May 29, 2014

Best answer: Most packs of bacon are under $5, right? I'd pay $5 to know that I don't have to worry about my gastrointestinal process.
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:08 PM on May 29, 2014 [4 favorites]

It's likely salt cured and smoked, though if not both definitely one or the other. This is pretty much food preservation 101.
posted by Carillon at 4:09 PM on May 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

I probably would, but I have a stomach of steel.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:09 PM on May 29, 2014

Eat it. Salt and curing keeps bacteria at bay.
posted by Mittenz at 4:16 PM on May 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've eaten bacon that's been sitting "open" (I mean, securely wrapped, but the original packaging has been compromised) in the fridge for more than a week, numerous times. Sometimes, it's even had that distinctive, unmistakeable "off" scent, to boot. (That stuff, I'm more likely to to add to soup, and boil/simmer extensively, though.)

Pork is now considered to be one of the "safer" meats to eat, which is why restaurants are increasingly serving things like tenderloin with a light-pink, medium center. Doesn't mean you should just go around eating raw, unrefrigerated pork chops, but the normal pathogen risk is thought to be lower. In addition, bacon itself (whether sold as "cured" or "uncured," which is just jargon for "cured with all-natural analogs of the chemicals/salts used to cure the mainstream stuff, except probably more of them") is specifically processed to have more stability. That's pretty much the whole point of bacon, to begin with.

Think about prosciutto; it's technically a raw but heavily/lengthily cured ham, and most people wouldn't think twice about eating it off an appetizer platter that had been sitting around all night. I'm not directly comparing bacon to prosciutto (the latter being more like a jerky, and obviously created under more rigorous conditions than your kitchen counter), but I would consider salted and/or smoked pork to one of the best possible meats to leave out overnight. If you're into that kind of thing.

Now, if you were talking about a package of raw chicken thighs, I would be throwing it away for you, from here.

TL/DR: If it don't smell too funny, eat that swine!
posted by credible hulk at 4:18 PM on May 29, 2014 [6 favorites]

Fry it and eat it.
posted by gimonca at 4:20 PM on May 29, 2014

Give it a good fry and eat that piggy!
posted by youcancallmeal at 4:23 PM on May 29, 2014

Curing is how they preserved meat before refrigeration was invented. Fry it and eat it!
posted by pravit at 4:30 PM on May 29, 2014

Yep, it's fine. Cook it up today and enjoy.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 4:35 PM on May 29, 2014

Best answer: What? No! You don't eat this. You sacrifice $5 to the Gods of Not Spending the Night in the ER or Crying Mommy and you go buy another pack.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 4:38 PM on May 29, 2014

Best answer: I'd totally eat it.

You're playing Metafilter Roulette!
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:40 PM on May 29, 2014 [14 favorites]

Yes, totally fine, I would eat it. Its cured for goodness sake! That's the whole point of bacon.
posted by Joh at 4:41 PM on May 29, 2014

Unopened? Cool day? Eat it.

And if you do, please come back and let us know how it went.
posted by prize bull octorok at 4:43 PM on May 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Another vote for eating it.
posted by SLC Mom at 4:52 PM on May 29, 2014

Best answer: Open the package and smell it. If it smells funny toss it. If it smells fine cook it up. Eat one piece, put the rest of the cooked stuff in the fridge. If you don't get sick within a few hours feel free to eat some more.
posted by mareli at 4:52 PM on May 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

posted by briank at 5:05 PM on May 29, 2014

I don't think Oscar Meyer bacon is "cured" in the same way as the bacon our forefathers would have brought on the Oregon Trail. My googling is not bringing any solid answers, though.

I mean, if it's totally fine unrefrigerated, why do we refrigerate it at all? And would you eat it raw?

I don't have these answers.

I'm sorry this isn't helpful at all.
posted by sportbucket at 5:06 PM on May 29, 2014 [4 favorites]

These days, curing things like bacon is for flavor and texture purposes, and a lot of cheap bacon isn't properly smoked, just smoke flavored. Mass-market bacon isn't generally made to stand up to abuse like old-time bacon was, or more expensive, properly cured, properly smoked bacon is.

It looks like Oscar Meyer bacon is hardwood smoked, though I can't say if it's smoked enough to help preserve it. It's certainly not as smoky as some other brands of bacon I've had. It's wet-cured with sodium phosphate, so it absorbs quite a bit of water, so the water activity in the meat is high. That makes it more susceptible to spoilage.

If it were a good, dry brand of bacon, I'd eat it (fully cooked) if it looked and smelled okay. With a package of cheap bacon, even unopened, I'd be wary about it.
posted by WasabiFlux at 5:44 PM on May 29, 2014 [12 favorites]

If it is "old school" smoked bacon prepared the way it was for hundreds (thousands?) of years, yes eat it. It can be safely be eaten month's or perhaps years later. Bacon was taken across oceans on the old sailing ships and was eaten along the way.

If it is mass produced non smoked bacon with smoke flavoring and preservatives added, then toss it. I am pretty sure that Oscar Meyer is in this category.

The price is a pack of bacon is a lot less than the consequences.
posted by Leenie at 5:47 PM on May 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer:
I don't think Oscar Meyer bacon is "cured" in the same way as the bacon our forefathers would have brought on the Oregon Trail.

No, probably not. At least not exactly. According to Oscar Mayer, their "original" bacon contains: WATER, SALT, SUGAR, SODIUM PHOSPHATES, SODIUM ASCORBATE, SODIUM NITRITE. The last three are refined/industrialized preservative ingredients (basically, salt and vitamin C).

Assuming it's cured, definitely eat it. To clarify, all bacon is cured. The brands sold as "uncured" are simply differentiating themselves from the mainstream brand ingredients (above), in order to appeal to the "natural food" consumer. These "alternative" bacons typically contain: water, salt, sugar, [some kind of "naturally extracted" sodium phosphate], [some kind of equivalent acid to ascorbate], and [some kind of "natural" form of sodium nitrate].

As for googlin' this stuff, I sold "uncured" bacon by the ton for years, and therefore conducted regular internet searches in order to best communicate the most current information to customers. I was never able to find a satisfactory explanation for why the "natural" version was definitively better, or how the manufacturers could truly ethically make claims in the affirmative. So don't feel bad.

The best I was able to do was this: "Both kinds contain a form of nitrates. If you are concerned about the (potential) health risk from eating nitrates, you should probably eat a bit less bacon. And celery, and spinach, and so on (these plants draw nitrates from the soil and store them, and serve as primary sources for the ingredients to 'uncured' bacon)."

[Apologies for going a bit off topic/getting pedantic. I simply don't want OP to toss some totally cured bacon, just because it says "uncured" on the label. Or the opposite, because it isn't made from Great Granpa's recipe, in small batches, in BKLYN. Basically, I'm just disturbingly invested in them eating the bacon.]
posted by credible hulk at 6:05 PM on May 29, 2014 [9 favorites]

Best answer: I'd visually inspect, smell it, and then if it seems OK, cook it extra long and make sure it heats through well, just to be sure. I don't know that I'd put it back in the fridge and let it sit there for a week though. I think your choices are cook it well or toss it out.

I'm lazy, so I buy that pre-cooked bacon that isn't even sold in the refrigerated section, to be honest. I do wish there was a thick-cut version of that though.
posted by AppleTurnover at 6:09 PM on May 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't think this bacon has been cured in the way that, say, jerky has been cured, given how quickly it goes slimy/smelly even in a refrigerator.

Toss it. It's not lobster or fillet steak, it's bacon. Not worth the risk, like, at all.
posted by Salamander at 6:26 PM on May 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's your stomach. Are you willing to take the risk? Do you have a lot of free time tonight to spend with Mr. Toilet if necessary?

I wouldn't risk it myself, but I know nothing about "cured meat."

Upon taking a poll of the people in my vicinity, the guys say yes and the lady next to me would not recommend it because she vaguely remembers that the optimal temperature for bacteria growth starts at 60 degrees, "but don't quote me on that."
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:46 PM on May 29, 2014

It does seem like you probably ought to treat it like raw meat left out. (Which, perhaps you would be willing to eat.) The meat products we have today that are actually treated so as to withstand extended periods at room temperature are stored that way at the shop: jerky, salumi, some kinds of cooked sausage, canned meat, etc.
posted by XMLicious at 7:01 PM on May 29, 2014

Here's a resource that is probably more factual than our opinions. Interestingly, it kinda supports both positions.

-- Bacon left out for more than two hours should be thrown out (if opened, anyway), because bacteria can grow best between 40 -- 140 degrees, Fahrenheit. Does this apply to vacuum-sealed package, too? Site doesn't clarify.


-- The edibility/safety of bacon can be determined by smelling/handling. (Although conflicting with the more scientific approach, above, this is described as "the best" method.)
posted by credible hulk at 7:03 PM on May 29, 2014

Response by poster: The deed is done. MrMoonPie lives (for the time being, at least).
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:22 PM on May 29, 2014 [18 favorites]

I'm kinda leaning towards eating the bacon, provided it doesn't smell. EDIT, I see that you now ate the bacon. Congrats!
posted by kuatto at 7:32 PM on May 29, 2014

It can take a few days for stomach issues to make themselves apparent. Do report back!
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:54 PM on May 29, 2014 [3 favorites]

Good call, I salute you sir.
posted by Justinian at 9:03 PM on May 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Well, that was exciting! Yes, do report back.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:06 AM on May 30, 2014

-- Bacon left out for more than two hours should be thrown out

Said the Bacon Marketing Board.
posted by glasseyes at 4:02 AM on May 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Still alive!
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:27 AM on May 30, 2014 [11 favorites]

posted by Carillon at 7:23 AM on May 30, 2014

Still alive!

This was a triumph!
I making a note here, "huge success."
posted by plinth at 7:30 AM on May 30, 2014 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: It didn't smell bad, and wasn't slimy, and I cooked it very crispy, doing that thing where I let all the grease accumulate in the pan to the point where I was basically deep-frying. But I must admit, I pretty much ignored the "don't eat it" advice, and mostly looked for confirmation of my already-formed intent.

Thanks, AskMetafilter!
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:50 AM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Can we do askme taglines?

Ask.Metafilter: I pretty much ignored the "don't eat it" advice, and mostly looked for confirmation of my already-formed intent.
posted by Carillon at 8:35 AM on May 30, 2014 [17 favorites]

Rule of thumb for food-borne illness is that it generally appears from two to 48 hours after consuming the food in question. Most people are inclined to blame the last meal they had, when it's likely to have been anything you ate in the last couple of days or so, but not the food you had less than two hours ago.

For what it's worth, I don't much like bacon unless it's been cooked so thoroughly that most people would consider it overcooked / scorched, and by that time microbial pathogens are less of an issue.
posted by Flexagon at 12:24 PM on May 30, 2014

Response by poster: BLT (with home-grown lettuce) for lunch. Everything seems to be stable.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:35 AM on May 31, 2014

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