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I put 4 raw chicken breasts is a crock pot in the fridge last night around 9pm. This morning at 6:50, not thinking, I removed the crock pot from the fridge and put it into the cooker. I left it off until 9:00 am and started it for an 8 hour low heat cook. Did that 2 hours ruin the chicken? The heavy ceramic pot was really cold and it was covered. I figured it stayed refrigerator-like cold for most of the morning.

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I think you should be much more concerned about what happened after you turned on the heating element.

It's likely that a heavy ceramic liner crock pot fresh out of a (properly kept) refrigerator would keep contained food out of the danger zone for a couple hours. But once cooking begins, that's a wide temperature range to cross - you have to make it from 40 °F to 140 °F within two hours, regardless of the final temperature you reach or how long you hold the food on either end. At low most crock pots don't put out very much heat, and you had a cold starting temperature for a thick, absorptive cooking vessel, so it may have struggled to bring the chicken up to temperature in sufficient time.

Unfortunately, without having monitored the temperature, there's really no way to know if this would be considered safe by the typical guidelines informed by food safety agencies. I would consider it suspect at best, but you must make your own decision about whether that's an acceptable risk to you.

However, we tend to lean pretty conservatively about food safety advice around here, because while there are always anecdotes and opinions, much smarter experts than we have set a high bar for safety standards and acceptable risk. As always: when in doubt, throw it out.

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I always allow raw meat from the fridge to reach room temperature or close. I don't allow it to sit for hours, 30-40 mins should be enough for most meats. The important factor for me, especially with white meat, is that the internal temperature reaches 165f, so as to eliminate bacteria.

  • What's the reason for letting raw meat reach room temperature? This seems to be reducing the safety of your food (bacteria produce toxins that aren't destroyed by high temperatures, which can also be dangerous). – Erica Jun 16 '18 at 16:35
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Believe it or not, you're not only fine, but allowing the chicken to come down to room temperature is actually GOOD for the chicken. Many people make the mistake of cooking chicken directly from the fridge which often can result in a dry cook, no matter the process. Always try to let chicken come down a bit before cooking, and again, in your case, you'll be just fine :)

  • 1
    I think by "come down" you mean "come up" - starting at a cold (low) temperature from the fridge and going up to a warmer room temperature? In any case, this is really, really not a good answer. Food left at room temperature too long is dangerous and in this case, the OP left the food out long enough for it to be a definite risk (see logophobe's answer). Telling them it's fine or even good is outright dangerous. – Cascabel Apr 6 '15 at 22:53
  • (It may be that letting things warm a bit before cooking is good, I don't know, but that has nothing to do with whether leaving them out for hours is safe.) – Cascabel Apr 6 '15 at 22:56

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