Ground beef left out overnight - quick advice needed
Due to (what I am assuming was) a miscommunication with my mother, who lives with us, about 3 lbs. of thawing beef chuck was left out overnight on our counter top. We don't have our heat on yet, so it was in the low 60's F, around 17*C all night long. When I smell the beef, it smells fine. It probably completely thawed to the core late last night, so it was sitting thawed on the counter top for about 5 - 8 hours.
My gut reaction is to not waste... cook the heck out of it and use for spaghetti sauce or something. I don't want to kill my family, though. What would you do?
Well, the sanitation rules say to throw it away. I grew up with meat thawed in the sink overnight every night. No one died from that. If you stuck it in the fridge immediately when you found it out, and cook it to death when you cook it, I would bet it will be ok. But then there are those rules. You do what you are comfortable with.
Your nose and tongue are powerful weapons. If it smells OK, cook it up now. Once cooked totally take a small taste - how's it taste? If it passes the smell and taste test, I'd eat it as meat sauce or chili or some such item (giving it a double cooking). Freeze the extra.
I do feel better safe than sorry and I am sure we have all been there done that at one time or other. It was not too long ago that due to a miss communication with my own brain that I left a great pot of homemade chicken noodle soup out on the counter. My dogs loved it.
I would have eaten it. Look at it this way, any food-poisoning specie of bacteria that couldhave started growing on the beef, would have been killed during the cooking process. In other words, dead Salmonella, e-coli, etc. do not give a person food poisoning. And if by chance, botulism toxin could have been produced overnight (which I doubt) it too would have been inactivated after being cooked at boiling temp for 10 minutes. The only way the hamburger could have hurt you is if you had eaten it raw or undercooked.
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I'd have eaten it, too, in the days pre current refrigeration, the whole earths population didnt drop dead from warm meat. Cooking kills bacteria. you'd have had more reason to be concerned if you made that spaghetti sauce and left it in an aluminum pot in the fridge..dont ask me how I know that. 20 years later and I still refuse to even consider using aluminum anything to cook with.
We'd have eaten it too. I always cook meat thoroughly though. Growing up it was the norm for food to be left out on the stove (except in the hottest summer months) overnight. You'd get up in the morning and turn it on for a good boil or heat it thoroughly in the oven. I've only had food poisoning once....from store bought meatballs.
I would definitely have eaten it. as long as it is thoroughly cooked (as CF said), there is no danger. Once the meat hits a temp of 170, all the bug nasties are toast. I grew up with meat being thawed in the sink overnight and never once did any of us get sick. Then again, we cooked it well. The only time I eat any ground meat less than well done is if it's from our freezer beef and thawed in the fridge or under a trickle of cool water.
my first reaction was "cook it" too. I know it's not what the health dept. tells us to do, but I grew up on meat thawed on the counter overnight, and in the 17+ years since I left home, that's how I've done my meat (except poultry, which I thaw in the fridge for several days). Heck, I've got a ham on the counter right now that I took out of the freezer before I went to bed last night.
I acknowledge that warm meat or any other warm food can culture bacteria. But, like some others have said, if it is still cool (not room temp) and you cook it thoroughly, that should pretty much take care of any undesirable things that may have sprouted in it.
it it smells good, it should taste good, for over 40 yrs we always thawed thanksgiving turkeys out on the counter for a couple days, now we do it the right way in the fridge, takes longer but we may live longer.
If raw meat is left at room temperature over two hours, it may not be safe to eat even after proper cooking. Some bacteria, such as staphylococcus (staph), produce toxins not destroyed by high cooking temperatures.
Still - it is up to you. I've had food poisoning and the memory is enough to make me toss something I'm not sure about.
You shall judge a man by his foes as well as his friends ~J. Conrad