I left a round steak out for 7 hours in a container of cold water. It was wrapped very well, hadn't been opened yet.
Is it ok to cook this? I planned on cooking it in the crockpot for 8 hours.
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It's perfectly safe to cook it, as long as you don't plan to eat it. The exception is if the water was at or below fridge temperature to begin with. When food temperature enters the "danger zone" of 40-140F/4-60C, there's a lag time of 2 hours before bacteria go into exponential replication. Any longer, and the bacteria counts start to increase exponentially, doubling every 30 minutes to an hour. With the bacteria counts, the risk of food poisoning increases exponentially. 7 hours is just beyond the pale.
Beyond the time/temperature problem, there are 3 things everyone needs to know about food safety:
If it was a very expensive steak, I'd be tempted to cut off the exterior and cook it heavily for myself only (would never dare serve to another). But, for a simple round steak? Bin it and buy another, it's not worth the risk.
You are really tempting fate. Unless your cold water was below 40f (which is doubtful), you have effectively replicated a bacteria culture for 7 hours. Since it's in an oxygen-free environment, your likely bug would be clostridium botulinum.
When your food's surface temperature rises above 40f, or drops below 130f, the safety clock starts ticking. Rule of thumb is four hours to consume. You are almost at double that time. Probably not good. Even though cooking in the crock pot will pasteurize your meat, it's not the pathogens that need to concern you (for the most part), but the toxins left behind.
You may be able to denature any toxins that have grown on your roast by searing ALL parts of the surface (good practice anyway), and then putting it into a preheated crock pot. But it's still pretty risky. So if it were me, I'd discard the beef and order a pizza.
Hmmm. How old was it to start with? Was it frozen? How cold was the water?
Obviously there isn't going to be anything living in it when you're done cooking it, but if its been warm long enough, you might still have enough dead bacteria/bacterial waste to make you a bit ill.
Myself, I'd eat it, but I'm not very cautious about such things.
you people are crazy! Eat the meat!
This is how the internet works, you only end up finding people who are worried about the same things as you, along with people who worry about things to the extreme. Other people wont find this discussion because they dont worry about these things.
7 hours in cold water over night? Where did you get the water? From the amazon?!
Otherwise I think you're pretty safe mate. If, by tiny chance, you get sick, you'll get better, and you're immune system will be stronger. Other people here wont last a second outside of their sterilized bubbles.