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I've seen several great posts about food safety, such as:

This includes the "safe limit for raw or cooked food is 2 hours". But what if that food has been vacuum sealed? Will it last longer before it must be disposed of? All I've found is that vacuum sealed food should not be left at room temperature indefinitely, but no comment on its safe limit. Perhaps it's also 2 hours, but I would like to confirm that explicitly.

I have steam-cooked dog food (chicken) that is sold refrigerated. Once opened, I store the food in vacuum sealed containers (zwilling), which i typically refrigerate between servings. On two occasions I have vacuumed the container, and then forgot to put it in the fridge. I find it ~4 hours later on the counter. I've thrown it out, but the act bugs me, particularly being unsure if it is still safe as it has been vacuumed.

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  • Vacuum sealing doesn't change the time and temp limits contained in the linked answer.
    – moscafj
    Oct 25 at 23:47
  • @suse That source is about storing in the fridge, not storing on the counter.
    – user141592
    Oct 26 at 5:20
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    People come up with "but what if" thoughts about food safety all the time. But this is not how it works. The point of the safety rules is that you apply them literally, in all circumstances.
    – rumtscho
    Oct 26 at 6:37
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Vacuum packed meat has been sealed, but it’s possible that bacteria was sealed in there with it.

If it’s some sort of a cured meat (eg, a cured sausage, dried or salted meats), then it might be okay stored at room temperature, but I’d only consider factory sealed containers for that— not my sealing it at home, where I don’t have the same sanitation practices as a factory)

It’s possible that you could vacuum seal something, and then pasteurize it, but I have no idea how to calculate safe times for that sort of storage. I suspect it would be similar t confit, which used to be a way to preserve poultry, but it’s quite possible that modern germs have made it no longer acceptable for room temperature storage.

I would recommend coming up with some sort of workflow to make sure you put things in the fridge after you’ve sealed the packages. Once you’re in the habit, you’ll be less likely to make the error.

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  • And even professionally vacuum packed shelf stable sausages will be confiscated by US customs if you try to bring it into the country. As will dry cat food (which was in a ziplock bag), even when you’re transporting cats. So make sure to feed the cats before you get to customs. (Luckily, the baggage handlers had, just not all of it)
    – Joe
    Oct 26 at 5:35

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