Re: How long can uncooked chicken sit outside fridge before going
> On Tue, 16 Dec 2003 00:51:13 -0500, Bob Pastorio <email@example.com> wrote:
>>> Robin <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
>>>>I purchased chicken thighs at Costco, and wasn't able to get home for=
>>>>about 4-5 hours. It sat in the car, local temps are about 60-65 degre=
>>>>Got it home, put in fridge, now two days later, assuming its still go=
>>>>need to cook up now before more time goes by. Would you toss it or u=
>>>>it? Can you tell by odor alone if its ok?
>>>Toss it. According to the US Department of Agriculture:
> <snip quote>
>>The meat didn't instantly leap from 25F to 65F. It would take the=20 better part of a few hours to
>>get up to those temperatures if it were=20 just sitting out. In a sealed package with a plastic
>>wrapper over a=20 styrofoam tray, with the meat pressed together as Costco does it, the=20
>>temperature wouldn't rise appreciably for quite a while. It's packaged =
>>that way just for that eventuality.
> Did we ever learn if the chicken was originally frozen or just in a refrigerator case? I think
> those are supposed to be around 40F.
Commercial packaged chicken isn't "frozen," it's "superchilled."=20 That's the silly trade term.
It's "superchilled" to a rocklike texture=20 and bears a remarkable resemblance to "frozen" chicken.
The poultry=20 and fish cases at Costco are generally kept at 33F to 35F. The=20 "superchilled"
granitic chicken is put into the cases as delivered.=20 The poultry packers discovered that
superchilling their products=20 killed some bacteria, seriously slowed others and extended the
shelf=20 life in stores.
We don't know the beginning temperature of the product as purchased in=20 the post, nor do we know
the final temperature as it was put into the=20 fridge.
> 5 hrs in a car (where it would probably be a good deal warmer than the ambient 60-65F mentioned)
We have no way of knowing that. Was it sunny? Was the car closed? Was=20 the chicken in the path of
an operating heater? Was it in a cardboard=20 box with other cold foods? We have no way of knowing
from the original=20 post.
> would be plenty of time to make *me* suspicious.
>>Some science that flies in the face of "common sense": <http://www.hi-tm.com/Documents2001/time-temp-
> This is for cooked food, presumably starting out with 1 itty bitty bacteria, not for raw chicken.
> Since a startling percentage of chicken sold in the US has an appreciable amount of Salmonella
> bacteria to start out with, the 'safe' time at various temperatures on this chart has no practical
Yes, it's for cooked food but it makes two important points. First;=20 that there isn't much
bacterial contamination in cooked food (so=20 cooking it drastically reduces and controls that
"appreciable" amount=20 of bacterial contamination, see last reference below) and, second; the=20
growth rate isn't as fast as most people think. If the chicken=20 actually did get to 65F, the total
number of bacteria would double in=20 2 hours thereafter. But that doesn't matter because cooking it
to more=20 than 160F makes it safe.
In my original note, I sent the same thing twice. My mistake. Here's=20 what I meant to send the
first time. This other chart deals with=20 thawing frozen birds at room temp. While we don't know
that the=20 chicken necessarily was frozen when purchased, the situation vis a vis=20 bacterial
growth in frozen and room temp thawed chicken is germane=20 here. This is a small part of the paper,
for full details, go to: <http://www.hi-tm.com/Documents/Thaw-counter.html>
<<<<<<<< begin quote >>>>>>>>>>>>
Differences in bacterial population before freezing and after thawing=20 were assessed. The aerobic
plate count, Enterobacteriaceae, and=20 pseudomonad populations of the skin of uninoculated chickens
did not=20 increase when the chickens were thawed on the counter in less than 10=20 hours to an
internal temperature of 40F within the breast. The most=20 notable observation was that there was a
small increase (0.5 log10=20 CFU/g) in the population of pseudomonad bacteria (spoilage bacteria)=20
when the chicken was thawed under refrigeration, which took about 55=20 hours.
In another part of this study, chickens were inoculated with=20 Salmonella hadar in order to assess
the effect of the different=20 thawing methods on the growth of this microorganism. It was shown=20
that there was a slight decrease in the population of Salmonella=20 hadar-inoculated chickens frozen
and thawed at room temperature to an=20 internal temperature of 40F within the breast. This same
decrease was=20 noted in chickens frozen and thawed in flowing water and in=20 refrigeration. This
latter observation demonstrates the reduction in=20 cell numbers because of freezing injury and the
inability of this=20 strain of salmonellae to grow below 45F.
In summary, the research study by Jim=E9nez et al. (1999) supports the=20 previous study by Klose et
al. (1968). The USDA is correct to allow=20 raw meat, fish, and poultry to thaw at room temperature.
There is no=20 risk in thawing these products at room temperature.
<<<<<<<<< end quote >>>>>>>>
From another paper: <http://www.hi-tm.com/homeprep/home-VI.html>
<<<<<<<<<< begin quote >>>>>>>>
Keeping food at 50F for a short period of time, say 1 hour, is a=20 spoilage problem, not a food
safety problem." <<< snip >>>
[And, if the food is held at 50F or more and it noticeably spoils, can=20 it be made safe?]
If Raw Food Is Spoiled High numbers of spoilage bacteria in raw food will NOT make you sick.=20 When
food spoils microbiologically, the spoilage microorganisms grow=20 on the surface until they totally
cover the surface, perhaps 2 to 3=20 layers deep. At this point, surfaces of foods such as meat,
poultry or=20 fish feel "slimy", and there can be 20,000,000 to 50,000,000=20 microorganisms per
gram or per square inch of food. This is when=20 hamburger smells sour and turns brown, and fish and
chicken turn slimy=20 and have very objectionable odors. The growth of spoilage bacteria on=20 green
onions harvested during a wet growing season causes the onions=20 to become slimy, and yellow onions
to become soft.
***When spoiled food is cooked above 160F to make it safe,*** it may=20 have a foul odor. For this
reason, spices and herbs have been added to=20 food throughout the centuries to mask the off-
flavors and off-odors of=20 spoiled or partially spoiled food. [***emphasis mine] <<<<<<<< end