How long can you leave cooked food out before it goes bad? - VeggieBoards

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#1 Old 09-03-2003, 12:41 PM
Coney's Avatar
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 1,854
Dear VB,

I was brought up thinking that if any food was left out after cooking for more than 4 hours, you needed to throw it away. If it got to be room temperature, it was doomed.

Then a friend of mine made a batch of black eyed peas for dinner, left them out over night sitting on the stove, and heated them up at lunch and ate them. I thought "She's doomed! Doesn't she know you can't leave food out for more than 4 hours? It'll kill you!"

I would love it if anyone had some kind of insight as to how long, or little, food can be left out without making you sick. I know if it smells bad, it's bad... but there is the bacteria thing that I'm not sure about.

Another thing, I was also taught that leaving food in an opened can in the fridge can poison you. Like leftover soup or tomato sauce. I always leave it in the can, for at least a day, if I don't have a container to put it in, and have never keeled over from any kind of sickness. Has anyone else ever heard of this? Is it aluminum poisoning? How come we can eat food out of a can and not be poisoned, but if you open the can, it can mean sure death?


Confused by food.
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#2 Old 09-03-2003, 12:49 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2010
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Food spoilage depends greatly on what it is and what's added to it. Good rule of thumb is if it's made with anything that came out of the fridge and needs to be refridgerated to stay good. If that's the case, it needs to go back in the fridge in a reasonable amount of time to avoid the risk of bacteria growth that would make you sick.

If it's got a high sugar content, like a pastry, that doesn't involve like a cream filling or something to that affect, you're o.k. to leave it out. Sugar is a natural preservative.

As far as the canned question. I think you'd be better off getting it out of the can and into a bowl, even if the bowl is left uncovered. The food may absorb the metallic taste of the can, but I don't think that there's any type of lead used in the making of cans anymore. They should be pretty much safe. No, you'll not die if you open the can and continue to eat out of it the next day or the day after that for that matter.

Could you imagine the liability if food left in cans made people sick?
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