Food Safety Issues/Fermented soup


I made a very large pot of potato, cheese and steak soup, approx.4 gallons and put the whole huge pot in the fridge overnight. I believe it took way tooooo long to cool down. I got up the next morning I didn't realize it was foamy and my husband took a bowl of it for his lunch. This was Wednesday by the way. He said it was the best soup I ever made and he did not get sick or no reaction to the soup. Can I assume now that it's ok to eat for everyone ? He's had 3 bowls so far, ooooops!

Hi Pamela,

Husbands...they make such great guinea pigs!!!

You were right in thinking that putting 4 gallons of soup in the cooking pot directly into the refrigerator was not the best thing for cooling down the soup.  The recommendation is that the soup go from hot to refrigerator cold in 6 hours or less.  To do this, you must break down the soup into smaller, shallow containers that are less than 4 inches deep.  Your soup probably took 2 days to cool completely in the center down to 41 degrees F -- the recommended internal temperature for refrigerated foods. Slow cooling of foods that are considered potentially hazardous foods (dairy, meat, fish, poultry, cooked vegetables, etc) provides any bacteria present the perfect environment for growth.

Is harmful bacteria present in your soup?  Who knows? But since your husband has tried it 3 times with no immediate harmful side effects, the soup is probably safe to consume.  I say probably -- that's not a guarantee of safety -- just it looks like in this case that it is not teaming with harmful bacteria or their waste products.

However, in the future I suggest you break down the soup into smaller containers so it can cool down quickly.


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Carol Schlitt


I can answer questions on home food safety, sanitation and home food preservation.


I am a former Extension educator, nutrition, wellness and food safety, having retired August 1, 2010. I am a food safety instructor for the Illinois Department of Public Health, a ServSafe Instructor/Proctor and have my own company, Safe & Savory Solutions, Inc -

National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (Past President and current Historian), St. Louis Culinary Society.

BS - University of Illinois MS - Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville

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