Question I turned my crock pot on low and it was on for 2 1/2 hours before someone inadvertently unplugged it. It sat about 4 1/2 hours before someone noticed it. Is it safe to turn it up on high and continue to cook it?
Answer Hi Amy,
Since your food item probably started out cold and then was heated for 2.5 hours, chances are the internal temperature was somewhere between 70 and 90 degrees F -- right in the middle of the Danger Zone which is the most dangerous temperature for harmful bacteria. Then given that it had 4.5 hours within the Danger Zone, any bacteria, if present, were given the most ideal temperature for rapid growth. Also given that some bacteria can produce a waste produce that is toxic and not affected by heat (ie -- cooking will not destroy the toxin), your food should be pitched and not cooked on high in the crockpot.
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 - 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