Food Can Be Left Out – But For How Long?

There is A Time limit On How Long Food Can Be Left Out?

Food has a time limit to how long it can be left out. There are strict guidelines in the food industry about food handling, preparation, and safety. Do your research to find the right answers that you need in put them in practice everyday. Special care needs to be taken when food is left at room temperature. Some food can be left on the counter indefinitely, whereas other types have limits as to how long you can do so safely. Here are some guidelines about how long to leave some common types of food out of the fridge.


Precautions must be taken when meat has been removed from the fridge. If your meat is cooked, then it is a rule of thumb to leave it out no longer than two hours. If you have not eaten it by that point, it is safest to throw it out.

Meat that has sat around too long, especially in the so-called “danger zone” of 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, allows bacteria to multiply rapidly. When it comes to meats, salmonella and E. coli are a few of the main ones to worry about.

Mayonnaise and Foods Containing Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise is a food that also requires some care. Although it is popular in foods like potato salad that often remain outdoors in the heat at picnics and barbecues for long periods of time, it is unsafe when out for too long.

Mayonnaise should never be out of the fridge for longer than two hours. If your food is going to be sitting in the sun or heat that is higher than 90 degrees Fahrenheit, that time should be cut down to one hour.


Dairy foods include items such as milk, cream, cheese and yogurt.

Hard cheeses can be left out of the fridge for rather long periods of time. Four hours is recommended by some, as hard cheeses do not contain the moisture that allows bacteria to breed.

Soft cheeses should never be left out of the fridge more than two hours, though, and in fact it is recommended that they be placed on ice or in another type of cooler when out for longer than 30 minutes.

Milk that reaches the two-hour out-of-fridge mark should be discarded, and the same goes for yogurt.


Rice is an item that many people think of as being perfectly fine to leave out as long as necessary. However, rice contains bacillus cereus spores that are not killed even with cooking. When left at room temperature to cool for more than two hours, the bacteria spores then grow, producing a toxin that can make you quite ill. Rice must be put into the fridge when it is cooling down and thereafter.


Eggs are left at room temperature in many parts of the world. In North America, we are advised to keep them in the fridge to avoid salmonella. Leaving a cold egg out of the fridge can cause the egg to sweat, and bacteria to be moved into the egg.

There are many types of food that need to be refrigerated, and they each have their own timeline. Follow the guidelines above to keep your food safely stored when not being eaten. You will reap a healthy and happy family.

How to Store and Use Leftovers

Eating leftovers is a great way to save money and time spent cooking a new meal. It is important to store and use leftovers safely, however. By following these tips, you can make your original meal stretch into two.

Don’t Save Food That Has Been Sitting Out More Than Two Hours

Food safety guidelines dictate that food should never be left out more than two hours. If your food has been out longer, you must throw away all extras. Otherwise, you risk a high threat of food-borne illness.

Don’t Reheat More Than Once

If you kept your leftovers and reheated them, and then still had more leftovers from the second meal… simply throw them away. You might wish to keep them and get more use from the meal, but you risk your health by doing so. If you can’t use all the leftovers, simply take out as much as you need, warm it up, and leave the rest in the fridge for another meal in order not to waste any.

Reheat to the Proper Temperature

When reheating food, you need to reheat it to a minimum temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Leftover liquid foods such as soup, broths and sauces should be boiled before being eaten again. Keeping liquid at 150 degrees or higher for more than a single minute kills any active bacteria, and boiling it for 10 minutes inactivates the botulism toxin.

Rules on Refreezing

When using the freezer to store foods, make sure that the food has not been out of the freezer for more than two days, and that it has not been thawed outside of the fridge. Refreezing should only be done once, and raw food that is now cooked can be safely frozen once as well. By following these rules, you can be aware as to what food is safe to refreeze.

Don’t Store Leftovers More Than Three Days

At times it’s boring to eat leftovers two nights in a row, and they end up staying in the fridge longer. When this happens, don’t keep them any longer than three days. When three days has passed, be sure to get rid of them completely. If you find it difficult to eat the leftovers in due time, simply meal plan the leftovers into your schedule so that you don’t forget about them.

Use Labels

It can be confusing when you have more than one set of leftovers. Almost anyone who eats leftovers has had moments when they didn’t know when original cooking date of the leftovers was. Because it is better to be safe than sorry, perfectly good food is often thrown away. To prevent this, use a label or erasable marker to write the date on the leftover container. This way, you will be assured that the food you are eating is safe.

Leftovers keep life simple and help make less waste. There is no reason to avoid leftovers; you simply need to ensure they are saved and reheated properly. By following these simple rules, you can have your leftovers and eat them too.