3

votes

How long can cooked grass fed hamburgers sit out?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created May 31, 2012 at 5:14 AM

Hi,

I made some grass-fed hamburgers for dinner around 9PM. I put the leftover cooked burgers in a zip lock bag opened while I let it cool off. For some reason I don't like putting hot food in the fridge right away.

I forgot they were still sitting on the counter and didn't put them in fridge until 11:30PM.

Are they safe to eat? I hear so many answers regarding this.

Thanks,

8aaf45dcdbc21a2144df0006180fe60e

(108)

on June 02, 2012
at 06:41 AM

I made it! No problems.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on May 31, 2012
at 05:48 PM

You can chill food quickly by putting in a container and surrounding by running cold or iced water. I always do this to cool down large amounts of food like in my crockpot - put crock in sink, fill to just below lip level with ice water, stir food contents to expose to cool. Even better if you can put in a thin walled container like a stainless steel bowl. Small hot items (like burgers) will cool quickly enough in the refrigerator. Don't put hot food in plastic though. Spread on plate, stainless steel or glass until totally cool before bagging.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on May 31, 2012
at 04:18 PM

Oops...that was supposed to be "I don't THINK most foods go bad anywhere near as quickly..."

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on May 31, 2012
at 03:54 PM

Right on. I don't most things go bad anywhere as quickly as we're led to believe. Especially if they're just sitting on the counter and aren't outside, uncovered, in direct sunlight for several hours. But I realize some people's bodies are more sensitive than others, and what makes one person sick might not affect someone else. (Stomach acid is supposed to kill a lot of the nasties anyway, but of course some of the little buggers are too hardy...)

0d50f54d2c57d74806be35d916f8dc74

(634)

on May 31, 2012
at 02:10 PM

Matt's right. But if you do your final cooling in the fridge, make sure the food is in a shallow, open container to facilitate rapid cooling. If you have it sealed up so that it can't cool within a safe time frame, yes, you will have bacteria growing more rapidly.

61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11058)

on May 31, 2012
at 01:31 PM

It typically takes me that long to get my body back into the kitchen after dinner to put everything away and start cleaning up. I've never gotten sick from it.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on May 31, 2012
at 12:39 PM

I think the issue is that you end up warming the fridge significantly if you put a hot dish in there.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 31, 2012
at 11:55 AM

I'll eat 'em for you.

A4216f1b1e1f5ab3815bd91700905081

(1646)

on May 31, 2012
at 05:41 AM

This question applies to pretty much any leftover that isn't a salty desert (beef jerky) or an acidic wasteland (sauerkraut and fermented pickles), bacterialogicaly speaking.

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6 Answers

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2
0d50f54d2c57d74806be35d916f8dc74

(634)

on May 31, 2012
at 02:08 PM

As a health inspector, I'll try to give you the simplest answer I can for cooling and having foods in the "danger zone" that Blitherakt talked about. Arizona hasn't adopted the newer version of the food code, so what I'm giving you is based on slightly different temperatures. The science continually evolves as more is discovered about the conditions/temperatures that various bacteria can survive in.

Strictly in terms of cooling, (and not knowing the internal cook temp of the hamburgers you made) here's what the 2000 version of the Food Code states:

Cooked, potentially hazardous food must be cooled from 130 to 70 degrees within 2 hours. It must cool from 70 to 41 degrees within an additional 4 hours.

Obviously, I don't know the conditions your hamburgers were cooling under so I couldn't vouch for their safety. But personally, if the hamburgers were in an OPEN bag so heat was able to escape, and if they were in a single layer that allowed heat to escape fairly rapidly, I'd eat them.

6
A4216f1b1e1f5ab3815bd91700905081

on May 31, 2012
at 05:39 AM

Ok, so here's where the USDA and experiential data have a giant cage match and everybody comes out bloody, beaten and hating each other.

The food safety guidelines provided by the government, and designed to make sure that food served by restaurants is as absolutely safe as completely possible without requiring irradiating rigs in every prep area of every eatery in America (and, consequently, creating a licensing boondoggle with the EPA), state that most prepared foods that are not in the extreme "basic" or "acidic" pH levels must be stored at a temperature above 140 or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit; with the range in between colloquially called "the danger zone". Bacteria is known to thrive in that zone, and cross-contamination problems (processing a head of lettucuce on a cutting board previously used to quarter a chicken, without the application of chemical sanitizers and a good wash) will exacerbate the problem. Foods that are cooked must be transitioned from the 140 to 40 degree level before storing, but the time frames vary by food type and acidity.

As a home cook, however, I can attest to leaving things like cooked chicken wings on the counter for, literally, days at room temperature without any ill effects whatsoever. Is this wise? Not really. But given proper precautions like a sealed container that is opened only to grab a portion to eat, highly acidic flavorings (traditional Buffalo wings have a high acid content due to the vinegar) and above-average cleanliness in the kitchen (I'm a home-brewer, so I keep a spray bottle of StarSan prepared at all times to "touch up" during and after cooking), you'll probably be alright.

Note the operative word there is "probably". There's little doubt that sometime, as I roll the dice with questionable food safety, that the house will win and some nasty, malevolent critter will take hold, despite my propensity for sanitizing ALL THE things, and I'll pay with a few days of violent bathroom visits for both the anterior and posterior regions.

Given your relatively short (3-ish hours) time frame, you're as OK as you're likely to be without strictly following food-handling guidelines, but there's always a chance... How much you're willing to risk is your call. I'd place it at a 100-1 bet, or so; the USDA would factor it as "you're going to die bleeding horribly from every orifice, and here's your fine." Your call.

And bonus points for not putting hot things into the fridge; the energy required to cool them is typically under what a chill box can provide, and this potentially raises the temperature of everything in your fridge into the Danger Zone, increasing your chances for bacterial hell.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on May 31, 2012
at 05:48 PM

You can chill food quickly by putting in a container and surrounding by running cold or iced water. I always do this to cool down large amounts of food like in my crockpot - put crock in sink, fill to just below lip level with ice water, stir food contents to expose to cool. Even better if you can put in a thin walled container like a stainless steel bowl. Small hot items (like burgers) will cool quickly enough in the refrigerator. Don't put hot food in plastic though. Spread on plate, stainless steel or glass until totally cool before bagging.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on May 31, 2012
at 04:18 PM

Oops...that was supposed to be "I don't THINK most foods go bad anywhere near as quickly..."

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on May 31, 2012
at 03:54 PM

Right on. I don't most things go bad anywhere as quickly as we're led to believe. Especially if they're just sitting on the counter and aren't outside, uncovered, in direct sunlight for several hours. But I realize some people's bodies are more sensitive than others, and what makes one person sick might not affect someone else. (Stomach acid is supposed to kill a lot of the nasties anyway, but of course some of the little buggers are too hardy...)

5
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on May 31, 2012
at 11:04 AM

Normally, you're ok for a good amount of time after cooking. However, ground beef is a completely different beast altogether. The process of grinding the mean ensures than any surface bacterial contamination of meat is homogenized throughout the ground meat. If you didn't cook them to a sufficiently high temperature, you've let a possibly large amount of bacteria survive and multiply.

Grass-fed beef doesn't mean it's some magical creation that cannot go bad over time.

2
3351f6c8ec1ea64435e419f380ca6468

(1255)

on May 31, 2012
at 05:36 PM

The Navy's food safety rules said (when I learned them, some 19 years ago) that food couldn't stay in the danger zone (40-140F) for more than 2 hours total before it had to be discarded. Not knowing if you went for rare meat or cooked it more than that (the more cooked, the higher it was than 140 to start with), I'd say that you're probably close enough with the 2-1/2 hours on the counter that you could still eat them.

2
Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on May 31, 2012
at 01:09 PM

Why would you have leftovers? :)

If you are really worried, I would crumble them up and fry them with some scrambled eggs. Frying them again should kill anything bad.

1
76c885d7d27e6c83542ea493ca866dcd

(2178)

on May 31, 2012
at 12:00 PM

I have heard that putting hot or very warm meat in the fridge can cause bacteria (or some other nastiness) to grow, so I'm with you on leaving things out until they cool a little bit.

On occassion I've accidentally left things out overnight, usually meat, and I've never felt any ill effects.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on May 31, 2012
at 12:39 PM

I think the issue is that you end up warming the fridge significantly if you put a hot dish in there.

0d50f54d2c57d74806be35d916f8dc74

(634)

on May 31, 2012
at 02:10 PM

Matt's right. But if you do your final cooling in the fridge, make sure the food is in a shallow, open container to facilitate rapid cooling. If you have it sealed up so that it can't cool within a safe time frame, yes, you will have bacteria growing more rapidly.

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