Unrefrigerated Food

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 13, 2013 at 4:47 PM

So I prefer room temp food over reheated or cold food. How bad is it to leave food out for hours before eating? As a kid I always had food that would sit out (but covered) and never had any problems.

For example: at about 7am I made a big meal with chicken, eggs, veggies and coconut oil. Ate some, brought some to work for a bit later. My plan is to have it sit on my desk until about 11 or so (or whenever I feel like eating it).

Is 4 hours too long for food to sit out? Or is there maybe a general time that bacteria truly starts to from on food? I've read "2 hours is safe", but I'd like to hear real people's answers.


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4 Answers


on September 07, 2013
at 12:44 AM

I think most people are way too obsessed with refrigeration. It certainly has it's advantages for long term storage, but I certainly wouldn't worry about leaving leftovers out for a few hours, and then eating them. I do what you are suggesting on a regular basis, but I'm no scientist. I just go by what I've always done. I've never had any problems. I too prefer my food at room temperature, and I don't see the point of going through the hassle of putting it away, and dirtying more dishes.



on February 14, 2013
at 02:48 AM

Conventional wisdom also tells us that we should bleach all non-porous surfaces, use antibacterial soap multiple times a day and alcohol-based hand gels, drink chlorine in our water, and basically sterilize the heck out of everything. They can take it a little too far and can leave us with an immune system that has no idea what to do with a real infection because it has no practice with everyday, run-of-the-mill bugs.

Use your common sense. If you've been doing it and had no problems, keep on keepin' on. Personally, I would eat that, no problem.


on February 13, 2013
at 07:18 PM

Most food safety recommendations, say food should not sit out more than 4 hours. But I think you can apply some common sense. Food that is already cooked has had the bacteria killed, so it is safer than raw food. For example, I would not eat sushi that has sat out for four hours, but left over chicken and veggies would be fine. If its real warm out, I'd be more cautious. The say the danger zone is 40-140 degrees. Warm and humid will grow more bacteria that dry and cool. Prepping a cooked lunch and eating it a few hours later should be safe for most dishes.


on February 14, 2013
at 12:12 AM

I'm the same and do it ALL the time. Never had a problem.

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