I partially cooked a beef casserole this morning (about 8am) and left it in the oven to finish cooking between 4pm and 6pm tonight. Is this going to be OK? or will I make my family ill?

  • Did it get below 140 F? – paparazzo Oct 4 '16 at 13:41
  • 1
    It depends on how far it was cooked. Was the meat still rather raw or was it nearly done when you turned the oven off. There are meals I always cook for 2/3 of the time they need in the morning then turn the oven off. In the evening, while I make the side dishes I reheat the oven. – Umbranus Oct 4 '16 at 14:11
  • You would do better to use a slow cooker. – aparente001 Oct 4 '16 at 14:12
  • Casseroles are usually pretty well suited for fully cooking, then reheating, which would be the route I would take if I was going to have it sitting around. Did you leave it in the oven so you could set the timer to get it going while you weren't there? – PoloHoleSet Oct 4 '16 at 14:47
  • Many people do it. Many people get away with it. But it only takes one time of something going wrong to make you sick. I would stick to those USDA guides. Will it kill you? Probably not. Do you really want to take those chances though. Mild cases of food poisoning are still not much fun. – dlb Oct 4 '16 at 16:37

If it was cooked and stayed above 140 °F then you are fine.

If you just turned the oven off then it was probably below 140 °F for 2 hours and entered the danger zone. 90 °F to 140 °F food should not be left out more than 1 hour. Even then it is supposed to be fully cooked first. Is it safe - maybe? Definitely in the range for bad stuff to grow.

Below is from United States Department of Agriculture

"Danger Zone" (40 °F - 140 °F)

Leaving food out too long at room temperature can cause bacteria (such as Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella Enteritidis, Escherichia coli O157:H7, and Campylobacter) to grow to dangerous levels that can cause illness. Bacteria grow most rapidly in the range of temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F, doubling in number in as little as 20 minutes. This range of temperatures is often called the "Danger Zone."

  • Keep Food Out of the &quotDanger Zone&quot
  • Cooking
  • Storing Leftovers
  • Reheating

Keep Food Out of the "Danger Zone" Never leave food out of refrigeration over 2 hours. If the temperature is above 90 °F, food should not be left out more than 1 hour.

  • Keep hot food hot — at or above 140 °F. Place cooked food in chafing dishes, preheated steam tables, warming trays, and/or slow cookers.
  • Keep cold food cold — at or below 40 °F. Place food in containers on ice.

Cooking Raw meat and poultry should always be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature (see graphic). When roasting meat and poultry, use an oven temperature no lower than 325 °F.

If you aren't going to serve hot food right away, it's important to keep it at 140 °F or above.

Storing Leftovers
One of the most common causes of food-borne illness is improper cooling of cooked foods. Bacteria can be reintroduced to food after it is safely cooked. For this reason leftovers must be put in shallow containers for quick cooling and refrigerated at 40 °F or below within two hours.

Foods should be reheated thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165 °F or until hot and steaming. In the microwave oven, cover food and rotate so it heats evenly.

danger zone image

  • There is no reason to recreate this content. That's why we have duplicate closures and why we have the canonical answer. If you want, you can add an answer there. – Catija Oct 5 '16 at 9:49
  • @Catija You feel left at room temp is the same as this question. I don't. – paparazzo Oct 5 '16 at 12:08

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