Food Safety Issues/Meatballs


Is it safe to eat cooked meatballs that were left unrefrigerated for two days?  They were covered with foil and left in a cold oven two nights.

Hi Ellen,

No, it is considered unsafe and risky to eat potentially hazardous foods (foods that require temperature control -- either hot or cold) to remain safe to consume. Cooked meatballs require to be either kept above 135 degrees F or within 6 hours be at 41 degrees F (refrigerator temperature).  When phf foods are left unrefrigerated 2 days, even if covered and in a cold oven, any bacteria that may have been present during cooling was given the perfect environment for rapid growth. Since you can't see, taste or smell these bacteria you can't tell if they are present.

While reheating will kill any live bacteria that may be present, some bacteria have the capability of producing a toxic waste product during growth that is not destroyed by heat.  Thus reheating a phf food that has been temperature abused do not automatically make it safe to consume.  The recommendation, therefore, is to not take a chance and pitch the food.

Sorry...but hope you have a Merry Christmas.


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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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