Food Safety Issues/food safety


Hello Carol,

I came back from the supermarket and forgot to bring the grocery bags inside. In my car garage, I left overnight a gallon of milk,a gallon of soy milk, sliced cheddar cheese, and sliced roast beef.  the temperature in the garage is 55. Are any of them safe to eat? I figured the cheese will go bad faster and so will the milk, and I suspect I need to throw away the meat. Can you please let me know the rule and let me know if I am wrong?


Hi Gretchen,

I hate when I forget to bring food in from the trunk of my car, especially when they are foods that are supposed to stay cold to remain safe.

Actually, the only food that is salvageable is the sliced cheddar cheese. Sliced and block cheeses can be at room temperature and still safe to consume. They may have a change in quality (some cheeses may appear oily or dried depending upon the fat content) but they are safe to consume at 55 degrees.  Shredded cheese and soft cheeses such as cream cheese, ricotta, sour cream and cream cheese, on the other hand, should not be consumed if left at 55 degrees overnight.

The rest of your foods -- milk, soy milk and sliced roast beef --  should be tossed and not consumed.  The rule that restaurants use is if the food was originally at 41 degrees F or lower when it was removed from refrigeration, it can be out of refrigeration for no more than 4 hours then it must be pitched. Since your food was out over 4 hours it must be pitched because the chances for harmful bacteria growth has increased to a level that it could cause harm.

Sorry for your losses.


Food Safety Issues

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


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

©2017 All rights reserved.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]