I put beef in my crock pot with cream of mushroom soup and an onion soup packet around 1pm. I set it on high for 2hrs and meant to turn it to low. At 3:47 I realized I forgot to turn the setting to low so the crock pot was on the warm setting for about 45mins. My husband thinks its fine, but I am pregnant and have a toddler so I'm a bit concerned and thinking about throwing it out. Is it safe to eat or should I toss it? Thank you!!

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    It automatically set itself to warm for 45 minutes, right? Just making sure I understand :) – Erica Dec 13 '17 at 21:50
  • Please start with our canonical post on food safety at room temperature. The important question is “How much time did the food spend in the danger zone between 40 and 140 F / 4 and 60 C?” And modern slow cookers are designed to keep food in the safe range even on low. My guesstimate: safe, because you brought the food beyond the danger zone during the initial 2 hours and keep it there afterwards. – Stephie Dec 13 '17 at 22:00
  • Yes, it automatically set itself to warm for 45mins after 2hrs on high. I'm put it back on high for another 2hrs and my husband wants to try it. – L. Nadro Dec 13 '17 at 22:23
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    But for a good chunk of that time, the temp would have still been above the danger zone while it cooled down. We can't really know anything for sure unless you happened to stick a thermometer in it before you turned the temperature back up. – Catija Dec 13 '17 at 22:35
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    @L.Nadro my mistake - I typed "low" instead of "warm". Manufacturers typically adjust "warm" to " still safe, over 140F". – Stephie Dec 13 '17 at 22:43

The USUAL problem with "warm" (or off/unplugged) on a crockpot is when food that is not hot is placed in one and left on those settings, where it does not quickly warm to a safe temperature range.

If the food was on "High" for 2 hours, it was hot. Depending on the specifics of the "warm" setting on your crockpot, it's somewhere between no risk (warm is 140F or above, maintaining a safe serving temperature) or low risk if for some bizzare reason they set it lower (food would still take a long time to cool below 140 °F, and thus would not actually have been below that temperature for anywhere near the full 45 minutes.)

I honestly can't imagine that a manufacturer would have chosen the second (unsafe) option, but I don't know for sure what your specific model actually does.

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    I think the problem is that slow cookers don't set a temperature. They switch on an element of a known power. The termperature reached will be determined by the power input and the ambient temperature (taking into account draughts etc.) If it's expected to be starting from hot this power may theoretically be too low to maintain a safe temperature indefinitely in a cool room, but capable of maintaining it for a couple of hours. Why a slow cooker would be designed to turn the power down after 2 hours on high is another matter -- some of my recipes are barely getting going at that point – Chris H Dec 14 '17 at 11:12
  • ... I'd test mine with a thermometer, but the time constants are so long (when full of water for a realistic test) that I'd need to spend a day on it, and that woudl only answer for one model – Chris H Dec 14 '17 at 11:14
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    @ChrisH : unless it's broken, I've never seen a kitchen appliance where 'warm' held something in the food danger zone. If the lid was on (reducing evaporative cooling), the odds of it being dangerous is very low. (that's the sort of thing that could get a class action lawsuit against a company). – Joe Dec 14 '17 at 17:57
  • @Joe, I agree. I've only just got one with "warm" myself, and I noticed that the manual makes a point of saying it should be run at normal room temperature. Starting from cold on warm mode is a known issue as it doesn't heat fast enough to pass through the danger zone quickly (I usually start from hot ingredients unless cooking a bacon joint or similar). I'm tempted to test if I get the chance soon. – Chris H Dec 14 '17 at 19:23
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    @ChrisH. Good point. From a hot state, in a reasonably warm room, the warm setting should be okay. From a cold state, it's not – Joe Dec 15 '17 at 12:25

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