To eat, or not to eat
September 29, 2015 3:19 PM   Subscribe

I never thought I'd ask one of these. Last night I poached some chicken breasts. I took them out of the water and left them on a plate on the kitchen bench, intending to put them in the fridge later. I forgot. So they've been sitting there for, call it 12 hours. Temperature I reckon between 17-14 C. Should they stay or should they go?
posted by Athanassiel to Food & Drink (31 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
DO NOT EAT! No no nooooo.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 3:21 PM on September 29, 2015 [20 favorites]


This is like... the classic do not eat. Room temperature chicken - cooked or not - does not last anywhere near 12 hours. It's gotta go.
posted by brainmouse at 3:24 PM on September 29, 2015 [14 favorites]


Nope. I will eat Most Things. But this is well past the Nope Threshold.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 3:30 PM on September 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


Go.
posted by gingerbeer at 3:31 PM on September 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Nope!
posted by heathrowga at 3:32 PM on September 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


For future reference, cooked chicken can be at room temp for a max of two hours, so it's best to put them in the fridge straightaway if you don't intend to eat them immediately.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 3:35 PM on September 29, 2015 [2 favorites]




Throw them out like everyone else said. Food poisoning waiting to happen.
posted by mermayd at 3:36 PM on September 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


if your ultimate goal is many thrilling hours of diarrhea agony then yes you should eat this

if your goal is survival and happiness you should throw it away
posted by poffin boffin at 3:37 PM on September 29, 2015 [25 favorites]


Don't eat it. ESPECIALLY when "it" is poultry.
posted by futureisunwritten at 3:44 PM on September 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


If you'd sliced up the chicken breast and put it in a sandwich when you went to work, but you were too easy to eat it at lunch, would you eat that sandwich for dinner? Assuming the sandwich was stored in a non-refrigerated bag, of course.

As long as it was cooked through in the first place, I'd probably eat this (after smelling it first).
posted by just.good.enough at 3:51 PM on September 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Dangerous levels of staph won't necessarily have a smell, although the resulting horrible diarrhea probably will.
posted by ftm at 4:05 PM on September 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


Way way way not cool. Do not eat, just pitch it and congratulate yourself on your narrow escape.
posted by Slinga at 4:12 PM on September 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


This may be my first time on this side: Do not eat that.
posted by pompomtom at 4:13 PM on September 29, 2015 [6 favorites]


If you'd sliced up the chicken breast and put it in a sandwich when you went to work, but you were too easy to eat it at lunch, would you eat that sandwich for dinner? Assuming the sandwich was stored in a non-refrigerated bag, of course.

Not only would I not eat the chicken of the OP's question, for the record eating the exact thing described above --chicken sandwiches prepared in the morning, meant for lunch, left out and then served for dinner instead-- gave my entire family horrible food poisoning that led to my grandma being hospitalized. So don't eat that thing either.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 4:25 PM on September 29, 2015 [18 favorites]


You would be foolhardy to eat that. And I eat a lot of questionable stuff.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 4:37 PM on September 29, 2015


Dammit, after reading all the other answers I feel uneasy about admitting that today for lunch I ate leftover chicken Pad See Ew that had been sitting out overnight.

But I am still alive and feeling great.

I was going to tell you, sure, go ahead and eat it.

But I'm probably wrong?
posted by Sara C. at 4:39 PM on September 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


No no no no NO. Toss, do NOT eat!
posted by easily confused at 4:50 PM on September 29, 2015


I eat a lot of things that other people wouldn't. I would not eat that.
posted by Specklet at 4:56 PM on September 29, 2015


A world of NO.
posted by sarcasticah at 5:01 PM on September 29, 2015


*bowing before the chorus of unanimity*

Okay, okay. It will go in the bin when I get home from work. I think I posted because I hoped it would be okay, even though I knew it wasn't. And because the whole not wasting food thing dies hard. Thank you all for your confirmation!
posted by Athanassiel at 5:05 PM on September 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Fine, I'm throwing out the chicken sandwich I didn't finish at lunch (seriously), but two hours? My sandwich regularly goes 5 hours at room temp without eating and it's all good. I would eat the OPs chicken, but clearly I'm in the minority.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:46 PM on September 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


As long as it was cooked through in the first place, I'd probably eat this (after smelling it first)

So, to keep banging the drum I keep banging: few oathogens release off odours when they have reached toxic levels. The only thing that smelling can do is tell you if something is absolutely bad--it cannot tell you that something is good.

This is not chicken that is worth the risk of eating, especially for anyone who is immunocompromised in any way--HIV, leukemia, chemotherapy, old age (60+), young age (-12ish), or even if you're just feeling under the weather.

The basic rule of hot/cold food safety is to keep hot things hot (>60 C) and cold things cold (under 4C), and to make transitions between the two states as fast as possible. What you're worried about is the Danger Zone, which is 4-60C; the temperature zone at which pathogens multiply most rapidly. 14-17C is getting into the worst part of that range. To cool food very rapidly use ice packs or zippy/tied-plastic bags full of ice to chill.

In addition, cooking through is really not a guarantee of safety, as most bacteria live on surfaces (things like parasites, worms, and blood-borne pathogens are indeed in the interior of proteins). Any post-cooking contamination and poof, you're glued to the toilet.

Yes, ok, some people regularly eat food that's been in the zone for too long and they're fine. Visit the CDC website and look at rates of foodborne illness and note how many episodes come from home kitchens--not from restaurants.

Fine, I'm throwing out the chicken sandwich I didn't finish at lunch (seriously), but two hours?

Yes. The Danger Zone is cumulative over the life of the product from walking around and squawking to entering your pie hole. Two hours as a sandwich is taking into account any time the bird may have spent at unsafe temps prior to entering your refrigerator--which most likely includes travel time from the grocery store to your home.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:08 PM on September 29, 2015 [20 favorites]


Doesn't the danger zone stopwatch reset when you cook it? How can anyone pack a lunch that the CDC doesn't claim will kill you?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:39 PM on September 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Not really, no, because heat doesn't necessarily destroy all pathogens. If I leave raw chicken at room temp for four hours it doesn't necessarily magically become good just because I cook it at the end of that time.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:04 PM on September 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


some the bad things that populate foods left out for hours can be killed by cooking/heating/whatever, but the all stuff those bad things pooped out onto your food, that doesn't go away. so you eat the bad thing poop and then you too are poop.

i apologize for my use of these highly technical terms
posted by poffin boffin at 11:07 PM on September 29, 2015 [16 favorites]


I've gotten sick from chicken left out for a much shorter period of time.

Sara: I hope you dodged a bullet!
posted by persona au gratin at 1:49 AM on September 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've eaten chicken left out overnight. But, it's probably a bad idea.
posted by J. Wilson at 7:37 AM on September 30, 2015


Um...yeah, don't eat the chicken.

So that sandwich I didn't eat for lunch yesterday? I actually started it but then didn't finish because I started feeling really unwell. Today I had another sandwich (same chicken, same everything) and finished it, about 6 hours after I made it and carried it around all day. And I'll spare you the TMI, but I just reported food poisoning to Toronto Public Health.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 1:10 PM on September 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm curious: why report it? Isn't that for when you get sick from restaurant food? Not that one ever is 100% certain where one got food poisoning from but all signs point to the sandwiches.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:11 PM on September 30, 2015


You should report it because it may mean something (the meat or the sprouts are the most likely candidates) are contaminated and those meat and sprouts are being sold or have been sold to others. I mean yes, it may be my handling that caused the salmonella or whatever to multiply, but the fact that the salmonella or whatever was in there in the first place is something public health would want to know. I think they only follow up if they get multiple reports.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 5:25 AM on October 1, 2015


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