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Is it ok to eat chicken that is left out for 4-5 hours wrapped in foil

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Posted 06 October 2018 - 01:09 AM

okay i made this account only for this question. so i had some chicken strips from dairy queen and i had a volleyball thing so i wrapped them in tinfoil. they stayed hot for probably around an hour so they were only cold for 4-5 hours. the tin foil was wrapped pretty securely and im pretty sure ive done this before. the reason i ask is because google says im not supposed to eat chicken thats been left out for more than an hour and i just dont want to get sick. i ate them about an hour ago and google also says salmonella takes 12-72 hours to set in. im freaking the freak out. is it okay? should i have not eaten it and am i going to get salmonella ? how do i avoid getting salmonella at this point? please help 


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Posted 06 October 2018 - 07:52 AM

Fairly confident your chicken was cooked properly and and thus no harmful microorganisms were present. However, this does not preclude safe handling practices post process which could be a possible source of contamination (employee hygiene, sanitary practices, environment).


The pathology of organisms which cause food-borne illness is a bit complicated by host variables, time-temperature, moisture, etc. Since the infective dose is generally regarded as one organism, the onset of symptoms is usually between 6-12 hours, because if one organisms is present then most likely poor hygiene/sanitation or process failure would cause log phase. If you experience any flu like symptoms or gastrointestinal distress seek medical attention. The mortality of salmonella spp. is less than 1% in healthy individuals that receive proper care, so you have that for comfort at least.


In the future, to keep foods safe:


Hot hold: 140 deg F (60 C) or greater

Cold: 45 deg F (7 C) or less

Aluminum foil: is not a magic blanket




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Posted 08 October 2018 - 02:11 PM

Food safety is a public health risk, not generally a personal risk. You will probably be fine, it takes a lot of factors to make your specific scenario unsafe from your perspective. The disposal recommendation comes from the fact that if hundreds/thousands/millions of people make the same decision, a lot of folks will get sick, but they will still be the minority.


End of the day, would I eat something like that? Probably, but my personal risk is low and I'm a healthy younger person without underlying illness. Would I feed those chicken strips to my two-year-old nephew? Not a chance.



Austin Bouck
Owner/Consultant at Fur, Farm, and Fork.
Consulting for companies needing effective, lean food safety systems and solutions.

Subscribe to the blog at furfarmandfork.com for food safety research, insights, and analysis.

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