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I have just made some home-made Carpaccio from thinly sliced beef rump, lemon juice, olive oil and Parmigiano.

Is it safe to keep the Carpaccio in the fridge for 24 hours?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

It was safe to keep the rump, so why wouldn't it be safe to keep the slices of the rump?

The only way that, according to USDA suggestion, it wouldn't be safe is if, in your preparation, you'd left the raw meat out of refrigeration for longer than two hours. These guidelines are generally conservative, but bacteria can grow quite quickly in meat above 40˚ F (4.5˚ C), and even more quickly above 70˚ (21˚C). Meat that will be served raw should be kept as cold as possible -- chilling your equipment before preparation is often a good idea.

The issue, to my mind, is that it sounds like you've already applied lemon juice. Being acidic, that juice will denature the proteins in the meat, changing its texture -- making it "mushy". (This is why marinades often contain acid; up to a point, this action is perceived as tenderizing.)

There's also likely to be some unpleasant-looking and -tasting, oxidation -- and/or maybe dehydration -- of the thin pieces of meat while they sit in the fridge. This isn't unsafe, but it does decrease the appeal of the beautiful rosy-red raw beef you're supposed to have. Rubbing on some oil may help with this problem, as might plastic wrap directly on the surface.

I'd recommend preparing the meat as close to service as possible and dressing it, at least with the lemon and cheese, at the absolute last moment.

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This might go deeper than you suggest. The 2 hours for raw meat assume that it will be cooked afterwards (other foods which are consumed without cooking are not as susceptible to bacteria growth). Second, slices differ from a whole piece of meat: they have much more surface area, and that's where the bacteria live. I don't think the carpaccio is considered safe under the general guidelines; there possibly is some special case so it can be served in restaurants, but I don't have more info on that. –  rumtscho Sep 18 '12 at 21:15
    
You're suggesting that the slices should be considered unsafe almost immediately after cutting? You're right that surface area is increased, and thus the possibility for contamination, but there's no distinction made in the Food Code between sliced or unsliced raw meat that I can see. The two hour guideline actually seems to be from the USDA: fsis.usda.gov/FACTSheets/Danger_Zone/index.asp, but I don't see anything there or in the Food Code specifying that the food be cooked. There's got to be some preparation time for any food -- it's impossible for it to be constantly refrigerated. –  Josh Caswell Sep 18 '12 at 22:35
    
There's no special cases for restaurants -- indeed, the Food Code specifically applies to commercial food production, and (via adoption by local health departments) has legal force only for them. It mandates that raw food not be served to "highly susceptible populations", be served only upon active customer selection, and with the customer notified that the food is raw or undercooked. –  Josh Caswell Sep 18 '12 at 22:36
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