According to the USDA, "a minimum temperature of 135 degrees Fahrenheit for a maximum of 8 hours, or a minimum temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit eternally, would likewise be enough to maintain food safety." In other words, if your hot plate gets hotter than 135 degrees Fahrenheit or colder than 140 degrees Fahrenheit for more than eight hours, then it has gone past its safe use-by date and should be discarded.
Hot plates are easy to cook on, which is why they are used in so many types of cuisine.
In general, the cooking time will be proportional to the size of the piece of meat or vegetable. However, since heat loss occurs faster at higher temperatures, a hot plate will usually become burned before the internal temperature reaches the recommended end point.
The safest method for determining whether or not a hot plate is still usable is by checking its internal temperature. According to the FDA, food should be cooked until its internal temperature is at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit for meats and 160 degrees Fahrenheit for vegetables.
However, since most people don't have a way to accurately measure internal temperature, we recommend allowing foods to cool down before eating them.
The widespread belief is that hot food below 140 degrees Fahrenheit is safe for about two hours, whereas cold food above 40 degrees Fahrenheit is safe for roughly the same period of time. However, science has shown that the actual time that hot or cold food remains safe to eat is actually closer to three-quarters of that time.
When you consider that a microwave oven cooks most foods in less than a minute, it's easy to see why these guidelines have been simplified so much. The truth is that unless your meal includes items that fall into one of the exceptions, all you need to know is that if it's cooked then it's safe to eat. There are many ways meat can be contaminated by bacteria that can cause illness, such as when you use unclean cutting tools or clean surfaces to cook it on. For example, if you use a knife to slice off pieces of meat without washing it first, you may transfer any bacteria on the tool to the meat. You also need to be careful not to eat any raw meats or eggs that may have been sitting out at room temperature for too long.
Most vegetables and fruits are safe to eat for three to four hours at temperatures above 140 degrees Fahrenheit and two hours below this mark. However, vegetables that are eaten raw, such as salads, should be discarded if they start to show signs of spoilage.
Cooked food lying at room temperature is in the USDA's "Danger Zone," which is between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Bacteria develops quickly at these temperatures, and the food might become unhealthy to consume, therefore it should only be kept out for no more than two hours. Cooked food that is frozen will keep its quality for longer than fresh food because the enzymes that break down nutrients are not as active when they are frozen.
The safest option for leftovers is to throw them out after two days. Any longer and you should start worrying about your food safety guidelines. If you have any doubts about the condition of your food, then it's best to toss it out.
Food starts to go bad when its bacteria grow enough to produce gases that lead to an odor or taste that people find unpleasant. This happens even if you follow recommended cooking methods and don't overcook your food. The main danger with leftovers is that they contain more available surface area for bacteria to grow on, so they're likely to go bad more quickly. However, if you store your food properly this shouldn't be a problem.
If you leave cooked food out too long, try not to worry about it. Simply throw it out and make another meal with the remaining ingredients. There are some foods that can be stored for several weeks without losing their quality; others will only last a few days.
20th of April, 2015 by Amanda Fennell
It is generally recommended that you eat all foods before they go bad; however, there are some instances where it makes sense to let certain foods spoil. For example, if your fridge is full of old meat that you cannot use soon because of its freshness, then leaving it out overnight will allow it to get too cold for safe eating.
Generally, if food has been left out for less than two hours, it is safe to eat. However, if it has been left out for four or more, then it is best to discard it instead of eating it. The bacteria that grows at room temperature is usually harmless, but can also cause diseases such as diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. So, if you are not sure whether your food is still safe to eat after being left out for four hours, then it is better to throw it out rather than take a risk.
The safest way to keep food safe for longer than two hours is by freezing it. This prevents any bacteria growth while also preserving the nutritional value and taste.
Here's what I've discovered: Bacteria develops swiftly between 40F and 140F, thus perishable goods should not be stored there for more than 3 hours (therefore, hot foods should be heated to 212F, a.k.a. "too hot to handle" before packing in a thermos). Before filling, thermoses must be warmed. The best way is to fill with cool water and let it warm up slowly during transportation.
I recommend washing your thermos thoroughly before use. Then, every time you heat or eat something in it, add a little bit of cold water and swish the container around to release any bacteria that may have formed. It won't hurt anything and it helps prevent smells too! After each use, empty the contents into a sterilized bowl or jar and set it in a sunny spot to dry completely.
Thermoses are great tools for keeping food hot or cold for a long time without using much energy. They're also very affordable. You can find ones that hold from 10 ounces to 2 gallons at most grocery stores and online. There are many different types of containers used for thermo-storage, but I would recommend only using stainless steel or plastic because other materials are not airtight.