Food Safety Issues/queso left out overnight


I bought queso at a local taco restaurant and accidentally left it out overnight. It was left out for at least 12 hours. The container was shut and my air conditioning was on the entire time. Is there any chance this didn't go bad or should I just get rid of it?

Hi Laura,

Sure...there's a chance that the queso is still safe to consume.  Then again, there's the possibility that it's not.  The problem is you can't tell by sight, taste or smell.  Microorganisms that cause foodborne illness don't give off signals that they are present.

Unfortunately, the recommendation for potentially hazardous foods (foods that require time and/or temperature to remain safe to consume) that have been in the "Danger Zone" - 41 degrees F to 135 degrees F- for over 4 hours should be pitched.  Queso fits into this category of food that is capable of supporting the growth of harmful microorganisms when temperature abused. Therefore the recommendation is to pitch it and not take a chance.



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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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