Can someone advise on whether this food will still be okay to eat?
August 21, 2008 2:59 AM   Subscribe

Can someone advise on whether this food will still be okay to eat?

It's possibly a really stupid post, so, sorry in advance.

I bought some stuffed pasta shells - found in the refrigerated section of the supermarket - which need to be cooked before eating (for 2-3 minutes in boiling water).

It does say on the packaging 'Keep Refrigerated' (before cooking, I assume) but what it DOESN'T say is, "If you were drunk last night and left it on the kitchen counter because you forgot to put it in the fridge, don't eat it because it will already have spoiled even if you cook it."

Note: it's still in it's sealed plastic packaging and I did put it in the fridge this morning. But it had been out all night in possibly a 20 degree temperature. It contains egg (not sure if this means raw or not), and proscuitto meat.

I apologise for what will probably be responded to with 'just throw it away and buy another one', but I am actually interested to know whether it's still perfectly fine to eat once cooked. Plus I am poor and it was expensive, and I always secretly think food isn't quite as dangerous as the manufacturers make out. :/
posted by angryjellybean to Food & Drink (40 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would most likely cook it and eat it. It sounds like the kind of thing I do, leaving food out over night and eating it the next day. My other half though is sometimes incredulous at my eating habits though, so you may want to take my advice with that in mind...
posted by ob at 3:06 AM on August 21, 2008

I'd eat it.

I am also of the "food is not as dangerous as they make out" school - it is in the best interests of manufacturers to get you to throw food away and buy more.
posted by handee at 3:07 AM on August 21, 2008

I'd eat it. I usually avoid being too paranoid about food and believe me, I've never had food poisoning or something like that. Stuffed pasta shells sounds yummy, go for it!
posted by Mitsuko at 3:09 AM on August 21, 2008

Personally I'd eat it. If the pasta contained raw fish or chicken, then definitely not. Prosciutto is a preserved meat, so isn't as susceptible to bacterial growth as a raw meat product. And the pasta is already part-cooked, and quite likely was made with pasteurised egg anyway.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 3:14 AM on August 21, 2008

i'd eat it keeping an eye on its insides, if something seemed off, i'd probably stop eating it.
posted by Soulbee at 3:22 AM on August 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'd eat it, especially if it were pretty well sealed. But I'd cook it for an extra minute!
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 3:34 AM on August 21, 2008

Eat it. Always eat it.
posted by ninebelow at 3:50 AM on August 21, 2008

If you don't want it, I'll eat it.
posted by Acacia at 3:58 AM on August 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

posted by dmd at 4:23 AM on August 21, 2008

I'm not very daring because I hate throwing up. I'd not eat it, and at least one government agrees with me. However, if it was pretty cold at your place last night, that is, less than 6C, it's like being refrigerated anyway.
posted by b33j at 4:26 AM on August 21, 2008

Don't. Because before you bought it, it was lying on someone's shelf without refrigeration and before that it was in a truck that didn't have adequate refrigeration and before that it was outside of the factory waiting for transport and before that it was lying in someone's warehouse in humid conditions and anyway - read the label. Those ingredients? How do you think they got to the manufacturer?
posted by watercarrier at 4:56 AM on August 21, 2008

My general feeling about leaving food out when you're drunk is that it doesn't really count, because the rules of time and physics only apply to sober people. I have thus eaten plenty of chicken and such that I've left out overnight, with no ill effects. In your position, I would eat the pasta.
posted by Greg Nog at 4:57 AM on August 21, 2008 [9 favorites]

Food safety first. Is the package bulging? If you open it does it smell? Personally, I'd toss it. Think of the upside and downside of eating a $5 package of pasta.

Upside: you don't waste the $5 that you spent, you get to eat

Downside: you spend the day on the toilet wanting to die

The reward is not worth the risk.
posted by zerobyproxy at 5:12 AM on August 21, 2008

Pig meat not refrigerated? And people are telling you to eat it?
posted by watercarrier at 5:16 AM on August 21, 2008

Prosciutto is generally not refrigerated but it's generally not kept wet either. Eggs generally are refrigerated, but we often have foods that are cooked with egg but still left out several days/weeks/months unrefrigerated (like some baked goods and egg noodles) under the normal course of things.

I have a strong stomach and I'd eat it.

But I'm used to eating shit like steamed Chinese cured sausages, raw eggs, underdone meats and fish, etc.

Is it fear factor is it not? I guess it's up to you, but I'm pretty sure that worst it won't kill you.
posted by kalessin at 5:24 AM on August 21, 2008

watercarrier, prosciutto is ham that has been dry-cured for nine to eighteen months, not a hunk of raw flesh covered with flies. I've eaten simliar with no problem.
posted by saucysault at 5:25 AM on August 21, 2008

Wild horses couldn't prevent me from eating it.
posted by TomMelee at 5:29 AM on August 21, 2008

Eat it. At the worst, you're improving your immune system*.

*I suppose, hypothetically, that worse things could happen. But I doubt it.
posted by twirlypen at 5:42 AM on August 21, 2008

I'd do the smell test first. If it smells bad then it is. However if you think about it:

Cheese is left out routinely, pasta does not need refrigerated, and prosciutto is cured... so take a bite first and if there is some funk, I'd pitch it. If not enjoy.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 6:00 AM on August 21, 2008

My philosophy on whether or not to eat something that is questionable is as follows:
If it smells off, throw it out. If not, eat it. If something tastes off while you're eating, then throw the rest out and find something else to eat.

But then again, I'm Swedish, and if there was an Olympics for the immune system, the Swedes would win Gold, Silver, and Bronze every time...they do eat surstromming, after all.
posted by Grither at 6:16 AM on August 21, 2008

I'd sniff it, and if it smells good (with not a hint of yuck), then I'd cook it for lunch.

I've had food poisoning, but never from something I cooked at home. I don't eat anything that doesn't smell ok, but you can often violate "best by" dates and handling instructions with pretty close to impunity.
posted by Forktine at 6:19 AM on August 21, 2008

ditto. smell factor is the key. eggs, btw, at least here in argentina, are sold un-refrigerated on the shelf, next to the sugar.
posted by punkbitch at 6:26 AM on August 21, 2008

it's not like the eggs are refrigerated while the chicken is squeezin' em out. eat it.
posted by jrishel at 6:55 AM on August 21, 2008

Eat it, but before you do, write down your mefi username and password so that a relative can log in and post what happened.
posted by desjardins at 7:13 AM on August 21, 2008 [8 favorites]

It's fine, eat it. In lots of places, including the homes of my chicken owning friends, eggs aren't refrigerated. None of us have gotten sick yet from eating them. Proscuitto is cured; ideally, it's been hanging in an unrefrigerated smokehouse for 18 months already. People ate cheese for centuries before refrigerators existed. So if you won't eat it, I will.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:18 AM on August 21, 2008

yes, eat it. You're statistically* in more danger from the boiling water you're cooking it in.

Source: my gut, smartest of all my body parts on the subject of microbes.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:20 AM on August 21, 2008

You people are insane. I personally know four people who have gotten salmonella poisoning from fresh pasta, and it wasn't even left out on the counter overnight. One of them was seriously ill for two weeks. I'm sure the prosciutto and cheese are fine; it's the raw eggs that you have to worry about. Yeah, it's okay for eggs to be unrefrigerated in the shell! Big difference!
posted by HotToddy at 7:42 AM on August 21, 2008

Standing food safety rule in my home: When in doubt, throw it out. I have not yet met the food worth a trip to the hospital.
posted by leapfrog at 8:26 AM on August 21, 2008

Wow, this happened to me the other day except it was cheese ravioli and the culprit was my husband who put in the pantry instead of the fridge. We had pizza for dinner that night. I say chuck it.
posted by wallaby at 9:38 AM on August 21, 2008

I am also of the "food is not as dangerous as they make out" school - it is in the best interests of manufacturers to get you to throw food away and buy more.

Or, more likely, the manufacturers are trying to prevent people from getting food poisoning (not everything is a conspiracy).

That said, if you avoid eating shellfish, seafood, and raw chicken that has been left out on the counter, you should be fine.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:17 AM on August 21, 2008

Eat it. My groceries routinely travel in unrefrigerated boxes from the store to the boat to the island to the dock and eventually most of them make it to my house. This is often a 4-5 hour process. Nothing's been spoiled, except for a bottle of milk that broke due to forklift jostling.

People are a little loony about food handling these days. Spoiled food looks and smells bad. Real bad. You wouldn't even consider eating it, unless the choice was eat it or die immediately from starvation. The kind of food poisoning that doesn't look or smell bad has nothing much to do with time left unrefrigerated, and will be there even if the food is absolutely fresh. And all of that kind is killed by thorough cooking.


* If it looks and smells like something that's been dug up from a three month old grave, Don't Eat It.

* If not, Cook It Thoroughly

* If it's not something you can or want to cook thoroughly, Don't, And Take Your Chances. Ya gotta eat, anyway. Might as well die from something that really tasted good.
posted by rusty at 10:49 AM on August 21, 2008

HotToddy, for the record, refrigeration doesn't affect salmonella at all. That's why you have to cook chicken to 180 degrees even though it has been refrigerated. Food poisoning that occurs from spoilage - leaving that raw chicken out, for example - is quite different and usually less severe than salmonella. The only reason your friends could have gotten salmonella from fresh pasta is if it wasn't thoroughly cooked and that's fairly weird for pasta. You usually hear about egg related salmonella from really raw eggs - caesar salad or chocolate mousse.
posted by mygothlaundry at 11:09 AM on August 21, 2008

These are my favorite AskMes! Eat it. It's just pasta. Cook it first.

If you'd left raw chicken on the countertop for a day and then cooked it half-heartedly, I'd say throw it out. But this is pasta. Just cook it.
posted by Justinian at 11:39 AM on August 21, 2008

You're boiling little tiny parcels. Eat it. It's fine. We do this all the time. We are not yet dead. One day, we will be, but I'll be surprised it it's from unrefrigerated stuffed pasta.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:53 AM on August 21, 2008

My vote is with the "eat it" camp. Unless, of course, you cook it and it smells really funky or tastes bad or something. If you cook it and it's appetizing enough to eat, then eat it.
posted by booknerd at 1:45 PM on August 21, 2008

Mygothlaundry, okay, I shouldn't have said salmonella because I don't actually know that's what it was. I should have just said "food poisoning." Or, "food poisoning in the form of vomiting and diarrhea that nearly turned them inside-out." I make no claims to any particular knowledge about salmonella.

However, the food science writer Harold McGee, in his authoritative "On Food and Cooking," says "The fresh pasta is perishable, and if made with eggs carries a slight possibility of salmonella contamination; it should be cooked immediately or wrapped and refrigerated. Prolonged drying at kitchen temperature may allow microbes to multiply to hazardous levels."
posted by HotToddy at 1:55 PM on August 21, 2008

Go on, eat it!
posted by bonobothegreat at 6:19 PM on August 21, 2008

Can we get an update? Did you eat it? If so, what happened? If not, did someone else eat it?
posted by Greg Nog at 8:42 AM on August 22, 2008

Oh god, we killed her. And her friend screwed up the mefi username/password so we can't send flowers to the funeral.

mea culpa, mea culpa.
posted by saucysault at 7:14 AM on August 23, 2008

I thought I'd better respond, lest people think I had indeed died.

a) I am not dead.
b) I threw the pasta out, so I can't say "ha ha, I ate it and I was fine, you silly naysayers"
c) In my defense for being such a wuss, it was my birthday the day after this post, and I did not want to spend it being sick

However, the next time something like this happens when I am drunk (the likelihood is high...), I will eat it. I do agree it probably would have been fine.
posted by angryjellybean at 9:57 AM on August 26, 2008

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