Can I eat this pumpkin/cheese ravioli I forgot about?
November 29, 2014 5:03 PM   Subscribe

I bought pumpkin ravioli (stuffed with ricotta cheese and mozzarella) last night and left it in my backpack by accident. It's been about 22 hours. It's about 60 degrees here. Can I cook and eat this right now without getting sick, do you think?
posted by verbyournouns to Food & Drink (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I wouldn't think twice. As long as it wasn't in a hot car or in the sun, should be fine.
posted by jbenben at 5:12 PM on November 29, 2014

You're fine, doubly so if it's still sealed.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 5:13 PM on November 29, 2014

I personally wouldn't eat anything with ricotta left out for 22 hours. It's possible that it's fine but you only have to get sick once in your life to never want it to happen again.
posted by gt2 at 5:15 PM on November 29, 2014

I'd just make sure to cook it through thoroughly. I might boil it and then do a light fry by coating in a bit of olive oil and cooking in a pan on the stove top to finish it off, just for extra insurance and extra deliciousness.

Did you leave it outside or inside? Outside or in a car, it probably got cold enough overnight to not go bad. In a heated home, I'd inspect it visually and smell-wise to see if it doesn't seem good.
posted by AppleTurnover at 5:16 PM on November 29, 2014

Ravioli made with soft cheese, heated up and then left out for 22 hours? I wouldn't touch it, but I'm cautious because of having had the super bad, expel everything from every orifice until you are a hollow shell of a person kind of food poisoning a couple of times. Tossing a bit of extra food is cheap compared to that.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:19 PM on November 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: To clarify: not heated up. Left in packaging, accidentally missed when unpacking groceries.
posted by verbyournouns at 5:19 PM on November 29, 2014

I'd eat it.
posted by unknowncommand at 5:25 PM on November 29, 2014

I'd eat it, but I'd eat it today and not store it further. Probably with some browned butter and garlic and sage for zero added protective medicinal value.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 5:27 PM on November 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would eat it (and almost certainly have; I've definitely left TJ's ravioli out overnight), but I grew up in a family that wasn't super worried about food safety, so I have a strong stomach.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 5:55 PM on November 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Eat it.
posted by erst at 6:01 PM on November 29, 2014

I'd eat it tonight, or freeze it and make sure that it went straight from the freezer to a pot of boiling, salted water. But I lived in France, where it was fairly normal to buy and eat things that were well outside of the [IMHO, paranoid] US advice on food storage temperatures.

I also leave my butter out on the table in a covered butter dish as long as the temperature is below 75 F, in case that matters for whether you'll take my advice.
posted by brianogilvie at 6:10 PM on November 29, 2014 [3 favorites]

Personally, I would toss it. Dry cheese can be left out for a while, but soft cheeses like ricotta and mozzarella really do need to be refrigerated.

And for whatever it's worth: while cooking something may kill active bacteria, it does not kill all the spores created by the bacteria or the toxins they produce. Plus, you do need to heat something for a long time to kill most of the bacteria that can make you sick--far longer than anyone would want to cook pasta.
posted by girl flaneur at 7:36 PM on November 29, 2014 [6 favorites]

I'd throw it out.
posted by Gray Skies at 7:48 PM on November 29, 2014

I'd just make sure to cook it through thoroughly.

This is advice that needs to stop happening, please. Not all nasties that can contaminate food are destroyed by heat, some leave behind heat-resistant toxins, and many require temperatures (and lengths at those temperatures) that would make something like ravioli utterly inedible. While in general terms it might be okay advice, it isn't in the specific, and really needs to not be given. /PSA

As to the ravioli itself: personally (and, at the risk of repeating myself in these threads, I say this as someone professionally trained in food safety as it relates to cooking for other people) I would eat it, because I know my kitchen and I know my body (e.g., I am not immunocompromised) and I know what I can take.

I would never counsel anyone else to eat something that's been in the Danger Zone for that long; I would counsel them so swallow the lost $$ and make something else because the ravioli is now in the garbage.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:52 PM on November 29, 2014 [10 favorites]

Oh also...

It's poor food handling safety to re-freeze something that has been defrosted. (Also terrible for food quality). And butter at room temp is unlikely to grow nasties (unless contaminated by your knife) before it goes rancid, so not a useful measure.

And I missed this before:

I'd inspect it visually and smell-wise to see if it doesn't seem good.

Smell and taste are only positive indicators of contamination. That is to say, if something smells bad it is definitely bad. But something that smells fine isn't necessarily fine. e. coli contamination, for example, will be inhibited by (very) cold temperatures and so a few bacteria are (probably) not going to cause you an issue. The same bacteria at warmer temperatures are going to multiply a lot (on surfaces), and will make you sick as hell and possibly kill you, without ever producing any off smells or tastes.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:09 PM on November 29, 2014 [4 favorites]

A full day at room temperature is more than enough time for a small amount of bacteria to very effectively colonize a rich medium like ravioli. A bug with a doubling time in the 75-90 minute range at 25°C, like Salmonella, would double its population around 15 times over that time span (so just 10 cells could become 3×105). Being sealed doesn't mean much unless the ravioli were irradiated (very unlikely in the USA) or heat-sterilized and packaged aseptically (in which case they almost certainly wouldn't be in the refrigerated case, since that space is at a premium). It's true, people get away with eating stuff like this and don't get seriously sick; I think it probably has less to do with people having a "strong stomach," though, and more to do with upstream food handling practices and laws already in place to minimize contamination with the nastier bugs, like Salmonella.

Some bacteria, though, are harder to avoid, even if you cook the food completely: B. cereus, for example, thrives in things like grains and pasta, and its spores can survive cooking and then germinate in food left in the "danger zone." For a healthy adult, B. cereus would probably cause a mild form of food poisoning, but it wouldn't be fun either. S. aureus is also a part of a lot of people's normal skin flora (and note that most food service gloves are clean but not sterile); it can make toxins as it grows that are not destroyed by heat either.

Personally, I'd be really annoyed that I forgot to unpack it because it sounds delicious, but I would definitely toss it.
posted by en forme de poire at 10:00 PM on November 29, 2014 [8 favorites]

I would definitely NOT eat that. Seems like a real toss up in terms of food safety, not worth the risk of illness for me.
posted by gnutron at 5:42 AM on November 30, 2014

Toss it.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:14 AM on November 30, 2014

Toss it. 60 degrees is prime bacterial growth temperature, and $5 worth of ravioli is not worth the likelihood of food poisoning.
posted by tobiathan at 10:07 AM on November 30, 2014

Eat it if you don't care about the possibility of getting sick. If I had a light schedule for the week and I was living alone I would eat it. Never ever think about serving it.
posted by grizzly at 7:49 PM on November 30, 2014

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