I bought a package of Appleton Farms, hardwood smoked, sugar cured, sliced bacon about 32 hours ago & forgot to put it in the refrigerator. The ingredients state "cured with": water, salt, sugar,sodium phosphate, sodium erythorbate and sodium nitrate. The package is still sealed. Do you think it is safe to eat?

3 Answers 3


Does the package say it needs to be kept refrigerated? Did it come from refrigerated storage at the store? If either of these is true, then you should toss it.

Bacon CAN be heavily smoked and cured for room-temperature storage, but most grocery-store bacon is not this kind. Due to the nitrates/nitrates and smoking process, normal bacon should be safe at room temperature for longer than the 2 hours we give uncured meats, but 32 hours is simply WAY TOO LONG.

  • That test is needlessly pessimistic. If it does not come from refrigerated storage at the store, then it is safe to keep the sealed, unopened package at room temperature until the expire date even if the package says to refrigerate. Biologically, there is no difference between sitting unopened and sealed on the non-refigerated shelf at the store and sitting unopened and sealed on your counter at home.
    – tzs
    Mar 4, 2016 at 12:42
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    @tzs You may wish to re-read: we're saying the same thing. However, one doe occasionally encounter products at the store that should be refrigerated (per the package) which were misplaced in unrefrigerated areas.
    – BobMcGee
    Mar 4, 2016 at 15:31
  • Your answer mentions "more than two hours", but could you give an upper limit?
    – Seanny123
    Oct 17, 2016 at 15:02
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    @Seanny123 Only if you have a fully equipped lab, staff, and funding you're willing to loan me for a few years... and even then it'll only hold true for one kind of bacon, because it depends on the specific curing process and salt/moisture/nitrite content. Otherwise we fall back on the published guidelines (2 hours for raw meats).
    – BobMcGee
    Oct 17, 2016 at 19:30

If the package is sealed I would go for it! I doubt there's been any serious bacterial growth with all the preservatives. Besides, you still have to cook it (well), which would kill any bacteria (supposing there are any). That said, the taste/quality might be modified, but nothing to be concerned about (not harmful). If it doesn't taste good, toss it.

[DISCLAIMER: I'm a Biologist and consider myself to know quite a lot about bugs. I would eat it, but do so under your own responsibility.]

  • 5
    Other threads on here have commented that cooking meats does not always kill the toxins emitted by the bacteria growth while at room temperature, even though the bacteria itself does get killed from cooking. Is bacon somehow different in this regard? Jul 7, 2012 at 20:39
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    Indeed, the claim that you can make it safe by cooking is completely false, and I'm disappointed to see someone claiming to know a lot about bacteria espousing it. See for example this question.
    – Cascabel
    Feb 19, 2014 at 23:24

I am an old timer and I am about to repeat some stories from other old timers from when I was a youth. These folks lived most of their lives without refrigeration. Curing ham and bacon was a common practice for keeping that portion of the pig. The hams and bacon hung cured in the root cellars for months (3 and 4, 5 was pushng it.) When retrieved for cooking, if there was a little spoil on the outside it was cut off down to the good meat and cooked an eaten. They all lived into their 90's. interestingly, uncured quarters of beef were handled pretty much the same way. Use the smell test both before and after cooking.

  • 2
    It was a different process than the "curing" you'll get on grocery store bacon.
    – Preston
    Jul 21, 2014 at 11:35
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    (1) The plural of anecdote is not data, a few survivors doesn't mean it's safe. (2) What you're talking about is actually basically safe, but has nothing to do with store-bought bacon and most people reading this won't have stored it in a root cellar. (3) Smell test is never valid, it's in our FAQ on this.
    – Aaronut
    Jul 21, 2014 at 15:24

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