Food Safety Issues/food safety


Are cooked meatballs and spaghetti sauce left out all night safe to eat?fr

Hi Cissy,

Foods that can easily support the growth of harmful bacteria -- such as cooked meatballs and spaghetti sauce -- should be refrigerated to keep them safe. The recommendation is to cool the food from the hot state to refrigerator temperatures within 6 hours to assure a safe product.  Since your food was out at room temperature overnight, and harmful bacteria grow rapidly between 70 and 110 degrees F, it is entirely possible that your meatballs are now teaming with bacteria.  While reheating would kill any live bacteria, some bacteria produce a toxic waste product that is not deactivated by heat.  In other words, simply reheating the product does not guarantee safety.

The problem is you can't tell if your meatballs and sauce are still safe since bacteria do not give off any signals they are present.  Thus the recommendation is to not consume potentially hazardous foods that have been left out overnight.

Sorry....wish I had better news for you.


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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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