There are two components to risk: probability (how likely is the bad thing to happen) and hazard (how severe are the negative consequences). I know that hazard can be quite bad in case of food poisonings so I'm not surprised official sanitary guidelines often require taking the probability all the way to zero. But as an individual I have a hard time being able to properly evaluate food safety-related risks - not because I don't know the hazard but because I don't know how likely is it actually that dangerous bacteria will develop etc.
When I leave home forgetting my bicycle helmet I can roughly gauge if cycling is a risk worth taking because I know the conditions on the road and can anticipate the probabilities of collision. With a soup left overnight I have no clue of the probabilities involved: is it definitely unsafe? One in ten chance of diarrhoea? One in hundred chance of death? Or maybe one in a million?
I remember from growing up in central-eastern Europe that my family left food unrefrigerated overnight on a regular basis, often intentionally to improve the flavour profile - and so the probability of poisoning is definitely on the low side. Still, with my hypochondriac tendencies, and scared straight by overly conservative safety guidelines I end up throwing out a lot of food these days, which pains me a lot. I want to be able to manage risk in a more informed way so hopefully someone can offer any insight about this.