I see discussions every year about cooked turkey left out overnight, and a lot of people think it might be OK, if they never heard of anyone who died from it.
Q. WHAT KIND OF INFECTION DO YOU RISK BY EATING COOKED TURKEY OR MEAT THAT WAS NOT REFRIGERATED?
[My dad had a long professional career as a microbiologist and mycologist, and he made sure everyone in his family knew how to avoid the risks of dying from botulism. He told us that you cannot get rid of the deadly toxins by reheating the meat, so it must be thrown out if it was not kept at the proper temperatures. Even if thousands of people every year take a risk and survive, there are verified reports, that the professionals like my dad read, about people who died from botulism in cooked meat. So you could gamble with your life, and your family's, if you want to, but it doesn't sound very wise to me.]
NOTICE THIS PHRASE from the USDA: "Incidence of botulism is low, but the mortality rate is high if prompt diagnosis and appropriate, immediate treatment (early administration of antitoxin and intensive respiratory care) are not given."
[So maybe there is only a slight chance there will be botulism in your room temp cooked poultry or meat. But the chances of dying from it are high if botulism is present. Do you want to be the one in a million who dies from meat stored too long at room temp? I don't! (I'm guessing about the one in a million number, since I don't know what the real numbers for those chances are.)]
FROM THE CDC:
"Cook and keep food at the correct temperature.
Food, especially roasts of beef or poultry, should be cooked to a safe internal temperature, and then kept at 140°F (60°C) or warmer or 40°F (4.4°C) or cooler. These temperatures prevent the growth of C. perfringens spores that might have survived cooking. Meat dishes should be served hot, within 2 hours after cooking.
"Refrigerate leftovers and reheat them properly.
"Leftover foods should be refrigerated at 40°F or colder as soon as possible and
within 2 hours of preparation. It is OK to put hot foods directly into the refrigerator.
"However, large amounts of food, such as soups, stews, and big cuts of meats, such as roasts, should be divided into small quantities for refrigeration. Leftovers should be reheated to at least 165°F (74°C) before serving.
"When in doubt, throw it out.
"Foods that have dangerous bacteria in them may not taste, smell, or look different. Any food that has been left out too long may be dangerous to eat, even if it looks OK."
FROM THE USDA:
"Symptoms of foodborne botulism
"Botulinum toxins are neurotoxic and therefore affect the nervous system. Foodborne botulism is characterized by descending, flaccid paralysis that can cause respiratory failure.
"Early symptoms include marked fatigue, weakness and vertigo, usually followed by blurred vision, dry mouth and difficulty in swallowing and speaking. Vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation and abdominal swelling may also occur. The disease can progress to weakness in the neck and arms, after which the respiratory muscles and muscles of the lower body are affected. There is no fever and no loss of consciousness.
"The symptoms are not caused by the bacterium itself, but by the toxin produced by the bacterium. Symptoms usually appear within 12 to 36 hours (within a minimum and maximum range of 4 hours to 8 days) after exposure. Incidence of botulism is low, but the mortality rate is high if prompt diagnosis and appropriate, immediate treatment (early administration of antitoxin and intensive respiratory care) are not given.
"What is the Best Way to Prevent Botulism?
"The control of foodborne botulism is based almost entirely on thermal destruction (heating) of the spores or inhibiting spore germination into bacteria and allowing cells to grow and produce toxins in foods. To prevent foodborne botulism:
"Do not taste or eat foods from containers that are leaking, have bulges or are swollen, look damaged or cracked, or seem abnormal in appearance. Do not use products that spurt liquid or foam when the container is opened.
"Refrigerate all leftovers and cooked foods within 2 hours after cooking (1 hour if the temperature is above 90 °F)."
[So I don't think it's a good idea to hope I can survive the botulism risk just because approximately 90 percent of people who risk it do not die...since there is that 1 to 10 percent chance I could be the next statistic.]
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