Food Safety Issues/Colby cheese


Hi Carol, my son left an opened package of Colby cheese on the counter last night (a bit over 1 lb left & in a zipped plastic bag), & I just found it at 5:45 pm. I'm unsure of the time he left it out, but it appears to have "sweat" & it has a bit of stinky cheese smell. Is it safe to eat, or perhaps cut off the exterior? It's been in approximately 75-80. Many thanks for the help!

HI Tracey,

Hard cheeses such as cheddar, colby, processed cheeses (American), and both block and grated Parmesan do not require refrigeration for safety, but they will last longer if kept refrigerated. In general, the harder and drier a cheese, the longer it can stay out of refrigeration. Block cheeses taste better when served at room temperature.

However, when cheese is exposed to higher than room temperature (which by the way is 73.4 degrees) for an extended period of time, the fat in the cheese will come to the surface giving it an oily sheen. You may want to cut off the outside of the cheese (1/8") to remove this layer.

Of course if you notice any off flavors or taste I would not consume the cheese.


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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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