Pork left out - can I eat it?
March 4, 2023 7:47 PM   Subscribe

I prepared a pork roast (very fresh, from the fridge), seasoned it, and put it in the oven to cook. By mistake I turned on the oven light only, not the heat. It was in the oven for about 6 hours before I noticed and turned on the heat. Thanks!
posted by melamakarona to Health & Fitness (30 answers total)
 
Oh hell no.
posted by Miko at 7:52 PM on March 4, 2023 [26 favorites]


Absolutely not worth it.
posted by Meagan at 7:57 PM on March 4, 2023 [5 favorites]


Oh hell no.

Same. I got miserably sick once from cooked pork that turned out to have sat out way too long. Never again.

Now, like with most of these questions, it comes down to your risk tolerance. Dying is unlikely, but intestinal misery is at least a medium probability. I have family members who would cook and eat that without blinking, considering the risk to be worth it.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:00 PM on March 4, 2023 [3 favorites]


I hate wasting food. It is an insult to the creature, the farmer, and the labour of everyone on the long chain of effort that brought that food to my table to do anything less than put an honest effort into turning all of that sacrifice into the best meal you can produce. But I've also had food poisoning, and I would gladly pay many times the cost of the food that gave me that food poisoning to avoid repeating the experience.

My advice is to throw that out, make some gesture of apology to yourself and the world for doing so, and order take-out.
posted by mhoye at 8:14 PM on March 4, 2023 [16 favorites]


For what it's worth, I would definitely eat it.
posted by thereader at 8:37 PM on March 4, 2023 [7 favorites]


I would probably cook this a little longer than I'd intended, then eat it.
posted by Dr. Wu at 8:42 PM on March 4, 2023 [4 favorites]


I'd cook it thoroughly to a temp that made sure I killed the bacteria and I'd eat it. I respect anyone who would not.
posted by sibboleth at 9:12 PM on March 4, 2023 [3 favorites]


I've known people who use this set up, the oven with the light on but not the heat, to help breads rise. In other words people do what you did to encourage microbial growth. I would not eat the pork no matter how long it has been cooked.
posted by crossswords at 9:51 PM on March 4, 2023 [20 favorites]


No no no no. I’m stunned anybody here actually says they would.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 10:29 PM on March 4, 2023 [7 favorites]


Eh, probably would make a stew so I can cook it for longer, but yeah, I would eat it. Six hours is not a long time.
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 12:33 AM on March 5, 2023 [2 favorites]


Response by poster: There's definitely going to be enough cooking, like 6 hours.
posted by melamakarona at 12:42 AM on March 5, 2023


I found this website that mentions cooking will kill bacteria, but not the toxins caused by bacteria. The example they named, staphylococcus, seems to occur in pork.
posted by Eyelash at 2:02 AM on March 5, 2023 [19 favorites]


Cooking it will not "kill the bacteria." This is actually dangerous. Throw it away!
posted by tiny frying pan at 5:17 AM on March 5, 2023 [11 favorites]


There's definitely going to be enough cooking, like 6 hours.

Low-and-slow won’t kill bupkis. You would need surface-of-the-sun-and-slow to get the poor roast anywhere close to safe. But, you’d pretty much have desiccated the thing in the process.

Pitch it. Sorry.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:35 AM on March 5, 2023 [6 favorites]


Response by poster: So, my partner ate some. How long before we know whether she is going to get sick?
posted by melamakarona at 5:51 AM on March 5, 2023 [1 favorite]


Yeah, anyone saying "just cook it longer and that will kill all the bacteria" is wrong wrong wrongity wrong. Sure, it might kill the things that produced the toxins, but it won't do anything about the toxins already there.

I always suspect that anyone on the "no, I'd totally eat that" side of these questions has never actually had real, honest to goodness, food poisoning. Not the "oh, I had an upset stomach..." food poisoning, but the "I had to go stand in the shower for a few hours because I was vomiting and spewing diarrhea non-stop and should have gone to the hospital" food poisoning.

Someone will also show up saying that our ancestors would have eaten this and blah blah blah and they always conveniently forget that old graveyards are full of people who died of food borne illnesses.

In your case, I would have immediately tossed the pork. If your partner doesn't get sick, consider yourself extremely lucky.
posted by ralan at 6:07 AM on March 5, 2023 [14 favorites]


Symptoms from most common contaminants would appear within six hours.

Personally I'd have cooked and eaten a small bit too. USDA danger zone guidelines are idiot-proof and over-conservative by design. I bet it's delicious, let us know how it goes!
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:09 AM on March 5, 2023


Response by poster: Well, I can say so far that it looks delicious.
posted by melamakarona at 6:12 AM on March 5, 2023 [3 favorites]


If you ate it in the evening, you would know by morning for sure (possibly with a horrible 3am wake-up and dash to the bathroom moment).

I'm going to bet that no one gets sick from this but I'd still pass on it personally.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:14 AM on March 5, 2023 [4 favorites]


Speaking as a meat producer, we have cold chain requirements which mean that any meat for human consumption can only spend up to 4 hours outside of safe temperature, meaning refrigeration or cooking temp. As others have pointed out, while bacteria can be killed by cooking, the toxins that the bacteria have already generated will not be affected. Those toxins might give you a digestive upset, or they might destroy some of your vital organs or kill you outright. Whether a particular piece of meat that has been left at an unsafe temperature for an unsafe time will actually make you sick depends on how much bacteria was on and around the meat to begin with, which is something you have no way of knowing, as these are common bacteria that are generally around in the environment. Given a "might be fine, might destroy my kidneys" situation I personally would never risk it.
posted by Rhedyn at 6:54 AM on March 5, 2023 [22 favorites]


I tend to take a pretty cavalier attitude toward the situations given in most "can I eat it" questions. But pork, for six hours? Although it seems a darn shame to waste it I absolutely wouldn't risk eating that, for all the reasons cited above.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:18 AM on March 5, 2023 [1 favorite]


Please don't eat or let anyone else eat any more of this pork roast. Some answers above are incorrect as to how long after eating someone may become sick. According to the Mayo Clinic "Signs and symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 infection usually begin three or four days after exposure to the bacteria. But you may become ill as soon as one day after exposure to more than a week later." (Link) Some bacteria can double in number in as little as 20 minutes in the unsafe for food zone 40-160 degrees Fahrenheit. If the pork roast started out with only four (4) bacteria on it, in two hours in the unsafe temperature range, there could be 256 bacteria, in three hours 2,048 bacteria, in four hours 16,384 bacteria, in five hours 131,072 bacteria, and in six hours 1,048,576 bacteria. Yes, cooking to a proper temperature will kill the bacteria that have grown on your food, but cooking will do nothing to get rid of the toxins that those bacteria have produced. No, do not eat!
posted by Ministry of Truth at 1:57 PM on March 5, 2023 [6 favorites]


Some answers above are incorrect as to how long after eating someone may become sick. According to the Mayo Clinic "signs and symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 infection usually begin three or four days after exposure to the bacteria. But you may become ill as soon as one day after exposure to more than a week later.

I stand corrected, thank you. Every time I've gotten food poisoning, it's been about 8-12 hours after eating.
posted by Dip Flash at 2:18 PM on March 5, 2023


Surely I'm not the only one keen to hear an update!
posted by Dr. Wu at 2:47 PM on March 5, 2023 [6 favorites]


This is a poop shake thing- would you drink a milkshake that may or may not have just a tiny bit of poop mixed in? (I would not.)

The pork looks delicious, yes, but people get food poisoning from eating yummy, good looking food, if it had a flashing neon green tinge people would be much likely to get food poisoning.

I understand the pain (especially with the cost of groceries) but take it as an expensive lesson to always double check.
posted by freethefeet at 5:31 PM on March 5, 2023 [1 favorite]


According to the Mayo Clinic "signs and symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 infection usually begin three or four days after exposure to the bacteria. But you may become ill as soon as one day after exposure to more than a week later.

That said, foodborne infection with live, active bacteria and food poisoning from leftover toxins are two different things with different timelines and outcomes. Cooking will prevent infection, and as others have said above may not prevent food poisoning.
posted by egregious theorem at 8:17 AM on March 6, 2023 [1 favorite]


I’m not aware of any such distinction between “food borne infection” and “food poisoning.” The first is the source of the second.
posted by Miko at 4:22 PM on March 6, 2023


This is a clarifier from the USDA. Food poisoning is a type of foodborne illness
posted by Miko at 4:26 PM on March 6, 2023


Response by poster: update: we were fine.
posted by melamakarona at 3:18 PM on March 16, 2023 [3 favorites]


Awesome! Don't tempt fate again!
posted by tiny frying pan at 7:36 AM on March 17, 2023


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