I was doing boneless short ribs for 48 hrs at 140. I had to leave town suddenly and unexpectedly for a day and I added enough time via WIFI to continue to cook for an addition 16hrs.

My water level dropped below min while gone and the Sous Vide shut down before I was able to get home.

The temp of course started to drop. By the time I get home here in a few hours, the short ribs will have been in water that has been slowing cooling for 8hrs.Current temp 89.1

Is the meat unsafe to eat?

  • Thanks for the comments. It was two separate packages of approx 2lbs each. No pre sear. Container was covered in foil and wrapped in towels. It spent 48plus hours at 140. Inside house temp was probably 60. Im in Alaska. By the time i got home the water temp was 74.8. They had been cooling for approx 10hours. I will toss them. Bummer! Jun 11, 2017 at 21:42

1 Answer 1


The danger zone is between 40 and 140 degrees F for 2 hours or more. The closer to the upper end of the scale, the less time you have. It doesn't matter how it was packaged or prepared. Your short ribs spent far too long at too low a temperature. I would not consider them safe.

  • So, does that not make common sous vide cooking between 130F and 140F for more than 2 hours automatically unsafe? And OP's meat was unsafe as cooked whether the mishap occurred or not?
    – user110084
    Jun 11, 2017 at 18:22
  • Yes, food safety rules are older than the rise of sous vide. So it was unsafe from the beginning.
    – rumtscho
    Jun 11, 2017 at 19:09
  • Understand rules part. How do/can restaurants and equipment manufacturers comply with them? So, it is not the cooling part that makes it unsafe, but the cooking part from the start which is worth stating lest anyone assume that it was just the accidental cooling.
    – user110084
    Jun 11, 2017 at 19:18
  • 3
    Pasteurization follows a logarithmic formula. In other words, it is not only temperature specific, but temperature plus time that determines whether bacterial growth is limited, or eliminated. Perhaps my answer was too general. It sounds like, in the original question, that the poster's ribs were sitting in cooling water for many hours. There is no way to know if all of the bacteria were eliminated during the earlier cooking time. So, there would be opportunity for bacterial or spore growth as the water cooled. Restaurants using sous vide either cook and chill, or cook, finish and serve.
    – moscafj
    Jun 11, 2017 at 19:43
  • I think @moscafj is absolutely on target here. Pasteurization != Sterilization, or even ultra Pasteurization for that matter. While those ribs are definitely safe out of the bag when they've been at 140 for 48 hours, the temperatures just north of 89 degrees are what you'd use to incubate bacteria. There's just no way to know how much bacteria regrew in that period of time– it could be a whole lot.
    – ChefAndy
    Aug 10, 2017 at 21:30

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