Food Safety Issues/Chili with ground pork
I made chili with ground pork last night, and put it in the crockpot at 10:00pm. I woke up around 6:30 this morning, and realized I hadn't plugged the crockpot in. I haven't decided if it's okay to eat, just turned it on high to cook all day, for now. Is this safe?
The recommendation for foods that can easily support the growth of harmful bacteria such as ground pork is that if they are left at room temperature over 4 hours they should not be cooked or consumed.
The problem is that you can't tell by sight, taste or smell if your chili is still safe after being temperature abused for 8+ hours. Food borne illness organisms do not give off any physical signs that they are present meaning that food can look, taste and smell marvelous and still make you ill. This is why we recommend that food that has been in the "Danger Zone" -- 41 to 135 degrees F -- for over 4 hours not be eaten. While cooking would destroy any living organisms, the problem is some bacteria have the capability of forming heat resistant toxins that are not destroyed by cooking.
If cooking temperature abused food always made it safe to consume then it would be easy to salavage food that had been left out overnight. But it doesn't always turn out for the best. And since you can't tell which foods are still safe and which aren't, the recommendation is to not take a chance and pitch the food.