Ground beef is, without a doubt, the number one meat for making burgers. So when you’re making a lot of them at the same time and have to leave it out of the fridge for a little while, you might very likely catch yourself wondering:
How long can ground beef sit out? Ground beef should never be left out of the fridge for more than two hours. In fact, no perishable food should ever be left out for more than two hours, according to the USDA. That’s because bacteria activity is very high at room temperature.
This was just to put it very briefly, though, and in order to indeed understand how it is with ground beef and refrigerating, we’ll have to dive into this topic a bit more deeply.
So what are we waiting for? Let’s just get started!
Table of Contents
- How long can ground beef sit out before it goes bad?
- How long can cooked ground beef sit out?
- How long can sealed ground beef sit out?
- How can you tell if ground beef is bad?
- Is raw ground beef left out overnight ok?
- Is cooked ground beef left out overnight ok?
- Can ground beef sit out for 3 hours?
- Can ground beef sit out for 4 hours?
- Can ground beef sit out for 5 hours?
- Can ground beef sit out for 6 hours?
How long can ground beef sit out before it goes bad?
Raw ground beef, just like any other perishable food, can sit out only for two hours before it goes bad. That’s because, according to the USDA, the temperatures between 40° F and 140° F are “Danger Zone.”
That means bacteria grow extremely quickly at those temperatures, making the raw ground beef spoil in a short time.
How long can cooked ground beef sit out?
In the opinion of the USDA, no perishable food can sit out for more than two hours, and cooked ground beef is not an exception. And that means that cooked ground beef can sit out for no more than two hours if you want to be sure it’s safe to eat.
How long can sealed ground beef sit out?
Although sealing the ground beef will make it last a bit longer, we still wouldn’t recommend you leave ground beef out for more than the already mentioned two hours. However, sealed ground beef does last a bit longer; some even say it can last for a day.
Nonetheless, we still think eating sealed ground beef left out for more than two hours is a bit risky, and we would recommend you not to do that.
How can you tell if ground beef is bad?
Telling if ground beef is bad is a pretty straightforward task. You just have to take a good look and a good sniff – if you see or smell anything weird, you should rather throw the ground beef out.
And although you should never come across any problems if you stick to the two-hour stamp we’ve mentioned above a couple of times, making sure the ground beef’s indeed not bad can’t do any harm; better be safe than sorry, right?
Is raw ground beef left out overnight ok?
No, raw ground beef left out overnight is not okay because raw ground beef can turn bad even as soon as after two hours without refrigeration. Therefore, if you ever happen to leave a pack of ground beef out overnight, you should throw it out as soon as possible.
Is cooked ground beef left out overnight ok?
According to the USDA, no perishable food should ever be left out of the fridge for more than two hours, not excluding ground beef. Therefore, it isn’t okay to eat cooked ground beef left out overnight, because more than likely, it’ll be spoiled.
Can ground beef sit out for 3 hours?
As we have explained above, it is generally agreed that raw ground beef can sit out of the fridge for no more than two hours. Hence, eating ground beef left for 3 hours isn’t precisely safe.
However, there most probably won’t be any problems with it, so just make sure it doesn’t smell nor look disgusting, and you ought to be good to go.
And it is nearly the same with cooked ground beef, maybe except for the fact cooked ground beef should be safe to eat even more likely. When the meat is cooked, bacteria grow a little bit slower.
So although the USDA recommends not to let it out for more than two hours, it shouldn’t be harmful even with the cooked ground beef. That said, though, there is a bit of a risk.
Can ground beef sit out for 4 hours?
Although the USDA says raw ground beef shouldn’t be left out for any longer than two hours, it should still be eatable even after it was left out for 4 hours. That’s because the two-hour stamp is just a recommendation, and in reality, raw ground beef can stay suitable for a bit longer.
However, there indeed is some risk it’ll be bad, so if you want to be sure you can eat it, you’d better check that there’s nothing weird to be seen or smelled on it.
Yes, cooked ground beef can sit out for 4 hours and still be eatable, although there’s a risk it may be spoiled. That’s because, ideally, ground beef shouldn’t sit out for any longer than two hours.
Nonetheless, 4 hours should be good even for raw ground beef, so there’s not much to worry about with the cooked one.
Can ground beef sit out for 5 hours?
When you leave your raw ground beef out of the fridge for 5 hours, you should be prepared that it’ll turn bad. With that being said, though, it is not necessary, so if you don’t see nor smell anything weird about it, it’s most likely good to go.
Even though the USDA suggests you shouldn’t leave any cooked meals (including cooked ground beef) out of the fridge for more than two hours, cooked ground beef still can sit out for 5 hours.
At least in most cases, so to make sure eating it won’t cause you any harm, we recommend you take a good look and a good sniff. If you notice anything weird about its look or smell, you should rather throw it away.
Can ground beef sit out for 6 hours?
We’ve explained above that ground beef can usually last longer than the USDA recommended two hours, but that doesn’t mean it can last forever. So no, raw ground beef cannot sit out for 6 hours because, after this time, it’ll most likely be spoiled, and you should not risk eating it.
Although cooked ground beef can stay good for longer than raw ground beef, it still cannot sit out for 6 hours. This amount of time is simply too much, so we recommend you not to eat ground beef that was left out for that long.
However, there’s a reasonably high chance it’ll stay good, so if you’re willing to take some risk and make sure there’s no weird smell coming from it nor any weird stains on its surface, you can still try it.
Just like any other perishable food, ground beef shouldn’t be under any circumstances left out for more than two hours if you want it to be entirely safe to eat. This comes from the recommendations of the USDA, but to be completely honest, ground beef should stay eatable for a bit longer in most cases.
Therefore, you don’t have to worry about ground beef left out for four or five hours, provided you don’t see or smell anything weird on it. And this is especially true for cooked ground beef since cooked meals always spoil slower than raw ones.
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