How Long Can Cooked Meat Be Safe Unrefrigerated?

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Matthew Crist Profile
Matthew Crist answered
There are many safety precautions that must be adhered to in commercial kitchens that should be taught in every home, such as temperature control and avoiding cross contaminations.  Cooked meats should not stay unrefrigerated for more than one to two hours before you start to risk bacteria and possible food poisoning.  It is a well known kitchen mantra to keep hot foods hot and cold food cold. 

A few good tips for maintaining food safety standards in the kitchen are: Discard any food left out at room temperature for more than two hours (one hour if the ambient temperature is above 90 degrees F).  Put food in shallow containers and immediately put in the refrigerator or freezer for quick cooling. Use most cooked leftovers within three to four days.  Avoid storing cooked and uncooked meats on the same shelf, never store meats or fish in the same containers and wipe down all surfaces with a disinfectant after handling any raw meats or fish. Cross contamination with raw meat happens quite often and usually creates a lasting impression in regards to maintaining food safety in your kitchen at home. 

Meat that is cooked on the bone and then served on the bone is an example of an exception to this particular rule of thumb. The temperature variant with bones cause further concerns for leaving leftovers out at room temperature.  I make it a personal rule to always store the leftovers of poultry and game birds immediately in shallow containers after the meal is finished.  I remove all bones with the exceptions of the leg and thigh and store those in freezer bags in the freezer immediately.  This minimizes the possibility of bacteria growth and maximizes freshness and taste retention of the meat. 

Be careful, your best recipe can turn into a recipe for disaster if proper food safety standards are ignored.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
If you don't refrigerate your cooked meat within about 45 min. After cooking, it starts to grow bacteria. This is the same with all food.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
It can be safe if you leave it unrefrigerated for about 45 minutes, but it also varies according to room temperature. If you refrigerate it, however, it can be eaten after 4 to 5 days. It is always preferable to keep cooked meat refrigerated.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
Don't eat it after 3 hours is my rule, yo.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
I just ate some meat that's been out since yesterday morning. I'll let you all know how it goes.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
Hi

It is better to keep cooked meat refrigerated if possible.  The important thing is to make sure there is no chance of it coming in contact with uncooked meat.  Always store cooked me above uncooked meat in a fridge.

If it is not refrigerated, it would depend on what the temperature was as to how long it would remain fit for consumption.

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