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Food Safety Issues/Vacuum sealed meat left out overnight


I left a package of Canadian bacon & kielbasa out overnight. Both packages say the meat is fully cooked & they are vacuum sealed. They were out about eight hours. Probably still safe to eat? I also left a carton of egg beaters out with them. They are pastuerized-what about them? The stress of thanksgiving cooking has made me temporarily crazy. Thank you!

Dear Ellen,

Yes, planning and preparing a Thanksgiving meal can be quite stressful.  I'm having Thanksgiving at my house so I know exactly what you are going through!

While vacuum sealing foods does increase their shelf life when handled properly, it does not guarantee safety when they are temperature abused.  Most bacteria that harm man need air in order to grow, so taking air away by vacuum sealing does decrease their growth.  However, some harmful bacteria ONLY grow in the absence of air, so vacuum sealing does not make a product that should be kept refrigerated automatically safe if it left out of refrigeration.

With your food being fully cooked and the eggs pasteurized, that does decrease the chances for harmful bacteria being present, as compared to raw food. But temperature abuse of cooked and pasteurized food can still be potentially harmful.

The general consumer guideline is to not use food that has been out of refrigeration over 2 hours.  Restaurants are allowed to serve food that is out of refrigeration up to 4 hours but the food must be thrown away at 4 hours, it can not be refrigerated and used again. With your food being out 8 hours you are way beyond both the consumer and professional recommendation so my best advice would be not to take a chance and pitch the food.

The problem is you can't tell by sight, smell or taste if the food is still safe.  We only know that the possibility of potential harm has increased.

Sorry Ellen...wish I had better news for you.  Worrying about the safety of your food would only increase your stress level, so best that you pitch the food and purchase new.

Hope the rest of your Thanksgiving preparation goes smoothly.


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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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