My kids helped unpack groceries last night and left a bag of uncooked pork chops in the original packaging out overnight. They were still in the shopping bag on the floor of the kitchen. There was also ground beef that comes in the chub packaging left out. The chubs were frozen when I bought them. When I put them away in the refrigerator, they were still partially frozen. I am on a very limited budget and can't afford to replace these items. Are these items safe to eat?

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    I would not accept any advice on this subject from internet commenters. Contact your nearest county extension service or even the butcher at your grocery store. Any expert would have you test the temp of the meat prior to refrigeration. Since you did not, any guess made here other than "toss it out" is endangering your life and the lives of your kids. Nov 17, 2014 at 21:21
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    @jbarker2160 I think that you mean you wouldn't accept any advice saying to keep it. You seem to be fine saying to throw it out. (And I don't really see how contacting someone is going to help, since they're going to say the same thing: if you didn't check the temperature, you can't be sure.)
    – Cascabel
    Nov 17, 2014 at 23:03
  • There's a standard FAQ for questions like this here.
    – Athanasius
    Nov 18, 2014 at 4:39

2 Answers 2


Personally I think some of the people here enjoy throwing food away. As you state you are on a limited budget I can emphasise as I'm in the same position. I've been a chef for 10 years so I've done my fair share of food hygiene courses and top ups (boring) and I stick to the rules at work as I'm required to by law. However at home I have no issue at all with defrosting meat on the side overnight. And if I personally, accidentally left some pork chops in a vacuum packed package over night. I'd just give them a rinse and have them for breakfast. I know it's good to be safe but neither I my partner or our 2 children have ever had any sort of tummy bug never mind food poisoning. How do the people here think humans survived before fridges?

I expect I'll get some down votes for this...

After re-reading my post I would like to emphesise, I would never intentionally put me or my family in danger. If it was the middle of summer and I'd left the pork on the side I would be more drawn towards throwing them out. Considering your Beef was still frozen I'm assuming your kitchen wasn't hot and the pork like the other post mention's likely never got into the danger zone because of it's cooling effect.

  • On this I want to tell a story. I was a Veterinary Technician for many years. Once upon a time, I worked in an ER clinic is Des Moines, Iowa. A night came that we treated a Siamese cat after being hit by a car. The cat died from her injuries. During her death throes, she bit her owner. She was a vaccinated house cat. It was absolutely ridiculous that state law required us to send the cat's remains to be tested for rabies. I'll be damned if that cat didn't come back positive. Rabies is 100% fatal. The owner would be dead today if we hadn't have taken that ridiculous step. Just sayin.
    – Jolenealaska
    Nov 18, 2014 at 13:27
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    There's a reason we usually stick to official advice here. USDA/FDA/etc. procedures likely reduce risk to 1 in a billion/serving or less. Maybe in this situation 1 in million, 1 in 1000, or 1 in 100, but without knowing a LOT more about the meat in question, even a microbiologist couldn't estimate risk. The problem with "I've always done X and it hasn't hurt me" is (1) most food poisoning produces mild symptoms that sometimes take days to incubate, and (2) even 1 in 100 risk for a scenario means many people never get sick, but thousands could be doing the same thing every day and getting sick.
    – Athanasius
    Nov 18, 2014 at 13:51
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    All of that said, I don't know whether I'd personally throw this meat away if this happened to me. I certainly don't "enjoy throwing food away." But my decision would be a complex judgment call based on a large number of factors. I can't make the same judgment call for someone else over the internet with incomplete information.
    – Athanasius
    Nov 18, 2014 at 14:04

This sort of topic seems to engender no small amount of confusion and opinionizing. Let me encourage you to think of this problem as though you were thawing the meat, in other words as though you had been thawing the meat overnight, albeit accidentally. If by break of day the chubs of beef were still frozen, then obviously they're fine. This explains your seeming emphasis on the pork chops.

If the pork chops were 1)in the same bag as the chubs of beef, 2)lying directly beneath them, and 3)quite cool to the touch when you discovered the problem, then the chubs likely did a fine job of keeping the chops at or below 40°F for the night. If any of these conditions however were not met, I'm afraid it's not worth risking the sickness that could follow from exposure to the overnight growth of pathogens or toxins.

If all three conditions were however met, still you should prepare the chops at once, not store them any longer in the refrigerator. The parallel principle here follows from what it would have been if you were thawing out these chops in cool water, as per the FDA's pointers here, in which event you would have still been keeping the meat below 41°F even though outside the refrigerator. If all of the above (three) conditions were met, this is clearly the logical equivalent of having met the thaw by water terms. But again, cook them at once. And again, discard them if any of the three conditions were not met.

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