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How long can I store a food in the pantry, refrigerator, or freezer?

I left out 2 raw but frozen 6 lbs beef briskets in the sink at 7PM to thaw out because they were rock hard from the freezer. I had intended to transfer them to the refrigerator but only the next morning at 7AM did I remember that I had forgotten to put them in the refrigerator.

They will be seared on both sides first in a heavy cast iron pan and then braised for 3-4 hours in the oven. Is this still safe?

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Welcome Wendy to Seasoned Advice! I had made several edits to your post to improve readibility. If you feel I have change your original meaning in anyway, you may edit it farther by clicking on the edit link found under the question tags. –  Jay Mar 27 '12 at 14:14
    
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marked as duplicate by Aaronut Mar 27 '12 at 16:22

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Unfortunately, as sad as it is to see two nice briskets get wasted, I would not feel comfortable using them. In the guidelines from the USDA, thawing on the counter is explicitly discouraged. Additionally, it is likely that in that amount of time the surface of the cuts came up to temperature to allow for otherwise inactive (due to freezing) pathogens to become active again. In the absence of a vacuum pack and having been left at room temperature for that long, it is likely that even in the original paper wrapping the food has become unsafe to eat.

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@wendy I suspect you are going to feed the food to your family and children. It is always better to error on the safe side in such cases. But it is all about personal risks and as a single college male with limited funds, I would personally still use it since I would be eating it myself and noone but myself would get sick in the process. –  Jay Mar 27 '12 at 14:36
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@Jay, please don't post this - it comes up again and again on this site, it doesn't matter what risks you're personally willing to take, it's irresponsible to provide any advice other than "throw it out" regardless of circumstances. –  Aaronut Mar 27 '12 at 16:25
    
I don't want to start a flamewar or anything, but I leave meat on the counter for 12 or more hours regularly and I've never had any unpleasant side effects. The meat must have remained in a frozen state for at least a couple of hours and then it was cold for a long time. I don't think it is seriously dangerous to eat it, the worst thing I can imagine is that it will make somebody sick. –  JohnEye Mar 27 '12 at 18:37
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@JohnEye, please see our food-safety tag wiki. It is our policy not to give advice that could potentially kill someone. I'm sure you'll agree that's a sensible policy. We're not interested in personal experiences, we're interested in the actual, quantifiable level of risk, which is clearly set out and agreed upon by numerous food safety agencies across the world. 12 hours is way too long. –  Aaronut Mar 27 '12 at 23:10
    
My apologies. Let me rephrase that then. Safety of the meat depends on many factors like room temperature, humidity and quality of processing. One hour in Egyptian summer is not the same as one hour in Canadian winter. If the meat spent a couple of hours completely defrosted in the sink, it can not be considered safe anymore, although it could be. –  JohnEye Mar 30 '12 at 8:38
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