Can I eat it?: office-thawed frozen bacony orzo lunch edition
August 5, 2015 12:19 PM   Subscribe

Last month, I cooked some orzo with bacon fat and mixed kale, mushrooms, bacon ends, and some cheese in. It was delicious. I had the last serving in my freezer and pulled it out this morning (5.5 hours ago). It has been sitting in my purse since then. It is still cold to the touch. Can I eat it for a late lunch?

I would be dumping it in a bowl and microwaving it until it's crackling, if that makes any difference. I do this quite a bit (pull leftovers from the freezer and let them sit around at room temperature until it's time for lunch) but today my lunch is unusually late and I'm wary of straying from the 4-hour food safety window.
posted by witchen to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'd eat it.
posted by Andrhia at 12:20 PM on August 5, 2015

posted by jbenben at 12:20 PM on August 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

I've eaten tuna salad that's been sitting around longer than that and was fine.
posted by griphus at 12:20 PM on August 5, 2015

Sounds dangerous. To be on the safe side, you'd better send it to me for proper disposal.

(Yes, eat it.)
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:22 PM on August 5, 2015 [4 favorites]

I'd eat it, but if the temp is over 40F, food safety says don't.
posted by Night_owl at 12:23 PM on August 5, 2015

Definitely eat it. The four-hour window thing is generally meant for food already at room temperature. If this started out frozen and is still cold to the touch, you're good to go.
posted by Diagonalize at 12:24 PM on August 5, 2015

So one more question: if leftovers like this are (re)heated to over 165 degrees, are all prior handling sins forgiven? Or does the 165-degree heat not kill any bad germs that might've grown in there?
posted by witchen at 12:25 PM on August 5, 2015

Every single day for lunch I eat something from the freezer that has been sitting on my desk most of the morning. You're fine.
posted by something something at 12:27 PM on August 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

The only thing I wouldn't eat in this situation is something super perishable like raw chicken or oysters. Which probably you aren't eating for lunch anyway. :)
posted by rainbowbrite at 12:32 PM on August 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Heat will kill germs, but it won't neutralize toxins created by those germs. So you want to be careful about heating being the magic bullet of food safety.

The food you're describing has probably been out of the "safe zone" (between 40 and 140) for less than 2 hours, if at all, considering it's still cold and started off frozen solid. I, average person in reasonable health, would eat it.
posted by tchemgrrl at 12:40 PM on August 5, 2015 [4 favorites]

Just to answer your follow-up question, the official line on reheating is that the problem is not just any organisms that may have grown, but spores and toxins they produce which heating does not destroy.

However, this scenario does not seem hazardous, and I myself personally would hit that orzo like a ton of bricks.
posted by ottereroticist at 12:41 PM on August 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

When it comes to proper food storage, you're not just trying to kill off what can grow in the food, you're also trying to minimize what grows in the first place. I mean, you don't store raw meat on the counter just because you plan to cook it later, right? Lots of grungy bacteria will give off toxins as they multiply, and reheating the food may kill off the bacteria, but it won't filter out the grunge already left behind. Plus, re-heating doesn't kill some of the more dangerous nasties, such as botulism, so enjoy your lunch today, but don't think you can solve every leftover issue with a few minutes in the microwave.
posted by Diagonalize at 12:43 PM on August 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

Five hours, minus the amount of time it was still frozen? I'd eat it in a heartbeat.
posted by easily confused at 1:04 PM on August 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Update: I ate it and it was delicious and I'm not worried about getting sick in 12-72 hours. AND I can be confident about similar scenarios in the future. Woo! Thanks, everyone.
posted by witchen at 1:23 PM on August 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

Can you be more specific about the steps involved, because it sounds delicious!!
posted by archimago at 1:35 PM on August 5, 2015

Hey, yeah (mods, sorry for derailing): Use the entire package of everything--so, 1 lb of orzo, etc.--if you want many small servings that generally freeze pretty well.

1. Make orzo like you normally would.
2. Fry bacon in a pan. Set the bacon aside and crunch it up into bits (optional).
3. Saute chopped red onion, kale, mushrooms (whatever vegetables, really) in the bacon fat that's still in the pan.
4. Dump all of that into a bowl with the orzo, stir it up, and add whatever cheese and salt to taste.
posted by witchen at 2:20 PM on August 5, 2015 [16 favorites]

Orzo in My Purse is my new band name.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 4:19 PM on August 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

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