Food Safety Issues/Pasta sauce

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Question
Cooked puréed vegetables herbs and garlic overnight in crock pot to make pasta sauce.  In the morning it was very hot.  Poured it into a glass jar and put the lid on while still hot.  Had to leave for work a few minutes later.  It was too hot to put in fridge so left on counter. Five hours later I put it in the fridge (lunch break).  It was still warm but not super hot anymore.  Still ok?

Answer
Hi Miles,

It's difficult to give you a definitive answer as to the safety of this product.  

What we do know is that hot TCS foods (foods requiring timer and/or temperature control for them to remain safe to consume) can be off the heat source up to 4 hours and still be considered safe to consume.  Your vegetable/herb mixture (which is a TCS food because the pH of these foods are above 4.6 which is in the range bacteria that is harmful to many can mulitply and thus why these foods must be kept either hot or cold to remain safe to consume) was in the Danger Zone (41 to 135 degrees F) for over 4 hours. If you were a restaurant the answer would be easy...pitch the food since it is off the heat source for more than 4 hours.

So...is it still okay?  Who knows?  The recommendation is to not consume TCS foods that have been in the Danger Zone for more than 4 hours.  Since you can't tell by taste, smell or appearance if the food is still safe to consume, it's a gamble.  While I think the chances of contamination are extremely low, there still is a chance.  

If you choose to consume it I would not serve it to anyone under the age of 9, any elderly individuals (in this case elderly is anyone over 55) or anyone with a weakend immunse system.  If there was a problem, these people would have the hardest time dealing with the consquences.

If it were me...I'd pitch the food and not take a chance.


Carol  

Food Safety Issues

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Carol Schlitt

Expertise

I can answer questions on home food safety, sanitation and home food preservation.

Experience

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

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