Food Safety Issues/Pork

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Question
My sister cooked pork loin chops last night. We finished eating dinner at 11:30 pm. She accidentally left the leftovers on the counter until 9:30 am, at which point she put them in the refrigerator. Is it safe to eat the chops now at 2:35 pm? Thank you.

Answer
Hi Pamela,

The general recommendation for all foods capable of supporting the growth of harmful bacteria is that they should be either held cold (41 degrees F or below) or hot (above 135 degrees F). When a hot food is leftover, it should be refrigerated in a shallow container and the internal temperature of the foods should reach 41 degrees within 6 hours.

Leaving foods that can support the growth of bacteria within the Danger Zone (41 to 135 degrees F) for more than 6 hours increases the chances that harmful bacteria could grow on the food.  While reheating the food will kill any live bacteria, some bacteria produce a waste product that is toxic and not destroyed by heat.  In other words, reheating a food that has been temperature abused is not a guarantee that it is still safe to consume.

What are the chances that harmful bacteria or their waste product is present?  Who knows?  These harmful bacteria do not give off any signals they are present such as change in flavor, texture or color.  In other words, the food looks great, smells fantastic and tastes marvelous and can still make you ill.

Therefore, the recommendation for all potentially hazardous foods that have been at room temperature over 6 hours is to pitch it and not take a chance.

Carol  

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Carol Schlitt

Expertise

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

Experience

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 - www.safeandsavorysolution.com

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

Education/Credentials
BS - University of Illinois MS - Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville

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