Left roasted beets out

I roasted beets, wrapped in foil, and forgot to take them out of the over. They were in there for 24 hours after the oven was turned off. I'm assuming they should be tossed?

  • Posted by: ATG117
  • November 7, 2013
  • 23164 views
  • 24 Comments

23 Comments

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Monita
Monita November 7, 2013

Remove them from the foil and remove the skin. If they don't smell bad, then taste a small piece. They will probably be fine

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ChefOno
ChefOno November 7, 2013

No, no, no! Wrapping potatoes in foil is a proven method of incubating botulism spores and I see no logical reason why beets would be any different. Literally one taste could kill you. Never taste suspect food! You can neither taste nor smell pathogenic bacteria, only the results of spoilage bacteria -- two different things, two different possible results. Two hours in the Danger Zone max.

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ATG117
ATG117 November 7, 2013

anyone want to break the tie?

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Trena Heinrich
Trena Heinrich November 7, 2013

According to the CDC the cases of botulism in the U.S. average 145 people per year, of those cases 15% are foodborne, and only 3-5% of those cases are fatal. http://www.cdc.gov/nczved/divisions/dfbmd/diseases/botulism/

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ChefOno
ChefOno November 7, 2013

So it's okay to consume food from bulging cans now because, heck, the odds are so low? That botulism is relatively rare these days is due to knowledge of the ways it's contracted being relatively common -- unsafe canning practices, flavoring oil with garlic, feeding infants honey and the aforementioned foil-wrapped potatoes being examples.

I apologize for leaving the impression -- apparently -- that botulism is the only danger here. 24 hours in the Danger Zone could result in any number of pathogens multiplying to lethal proportions. The rule is "2 hours".

So, Trina, here are some more stats from the CDC: 1 out of every 6 Americans will get sick this year from foodborne illness. Most will write off the experience as "stomach flu" (not understanding there is no such thing) but 128,000 will end up in the hospital and will 3,000 die.

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luvcookbooks
luvcookbooks November 7, 2013

I'm not an expert in food storage, but I think if the beets were roasted at 400 or so, most of the pathogens were killed. If loosely wrapped in foil, should be low risk for botulism-- bolinum is anaerobic. I would go with the try a tiny bit. There's a risk, but it's small. Could also reheat the beets to eliminate any pathogens that were growing while the beets were in the cooled oven.


bit. You could also reheat the beets to make them safer.

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ChefOno
ChefOno November 8, 2013

(1) Oven temperature does not equate to internal temperature. The generally accepted figure for destruction of botulism spores = 240F (this is why a pressure canner is required for low-acid foods). So, yes, you *might* eliminate the (a) toxin and (b) spores by heating to such a degree. Try it and let me know how that works out. (I've never done so myself and not because I'm not a fan of beets. My guess is they'd be severely dried out seeing as any moisture would be absent > 212F.)

If the suggested procedure were reliable, food safety would be a simple thing. Heck, we wouldn't even need refrigeration, canning, preservatives -- just heat and eat! The problem is some of the buggers can escape and in the case of botulism, all it takes is one. Under ideal conditions (which is what we're discussing), one becomes two in 20 minutes, two become four in another 20. Do the math for 24 hours.

(2) Cooking in aluminum foil creates an anaerobic environment proven to be conducive to botulism growth. Google "USDA foil potatoes" or reference this link: http://www.cdc.gov/nczved/divisions/dfbmd/diseases/botulism/ While you're there, note the consequences of crossing paths with C. botulinum. It ain't pretty.

(3) Google "USDA tasting suspect food". So the food tastes fine then, what, you wait 10 days to see if paralysis sets in? Again, if food safety was that simple, nobody would ever get sick. Stick to the rules and nobody gets hurt…

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ATG117
ATG117 November 8, 2013

I'm not really concerned about throwing out the beets, but was more interested in what the correct thing to do is. Chefono, you seem to always take a very strict, perhaps overly cautious stance. Do you think yours is mainstream and targeted to home cooks? It very well may be--I'm no food safety expert.

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Anastasia
Anastasia November 8, 2013

I'm pretty sure Chefono's stance is much more strict than most home cooks: everyone I know would just eat the beets.

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JAC
JAC November 8, 2013

I am certified in food safety. Throw out the beets. Really.
Is the risk low? Perhaps. But crying out loud we're talking about BEETS! How much did they cost you? A few dollars? Is it really worth risking your health for beets?!!
The risk may be low but the risk is still real. Throw out the beets.

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ATG117
ATG117 November 8, 2013

As i mentioned above, its not at all about the cost...

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JAC
JAC November 8, 2013

ATG117,
The correct thing to do is to ditch the beets.
I would consider myself to be reasonable about such things. I even believe the 5-second has its place in the world. But, twenty four hours is a long time. Too long.

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JAC
JAC November 8, 2013

ATG117,
The correct thing to do is to ditch the beets.
I would consider myself to be reasonable about such things. I even believe the 5-second has its place in the world. But, twenty four hours is a long time. Too long.

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ATL
ATL November 8, 2013

I am amused that people find Chef Ono overly "strict" when he is steering people away from the shoals of a myriad of food-related illnesses. I think what he says is common sense supported by an impressive compendium of evidence. I'd rather make an evidence-based decision vs. taking a chance. field, we make decisions based on evidence. It puzzles me that in our era where people comment endlessly on our broken food system, and every day brings a new and horrible report of food recalls, etc., people would even consider taking chances. Years ago when I first started canning, I was delighted by a sentence I in an old Fanny Farmer cookbook: "The home canner must operate with a clear conscience." In my kitchen, those beets would have been in the trash the minute I saw them.

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ATL
ATL November 8, 2013

Sorry for the half sentence and typos--we need an edit function!

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sexyLAMBCHOPx
sexyLAMBCHOPx November 8, 2013

"It puzzles me that in our era where people comment endlessly on our broken food system, and every day brings a new and horrible report of food recalls, etc., people would even consider taking chances. Then why even ask the question if you knew what to do?

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SeaJambon
SeaJambon November 9, 2013

[SLC: did you confuse ATL and ATG 117? I sure did and see how it could happen!]

ATL
ATL November 8, 2013

When one hotline question can get such differing opinions, we wonder why we have war in the world? All joking aside, I was commenting on the fact that despite evidence to support an answer, there is resistance to the answer,mostly when the topic is food safety. Food safety is very interesting, perhaps because in part the stakes are so high: Eating something and not getting sick vs. eating something, getting sick and even risking death. I have an autonomic reflex to pitch things if there is any doubt whatsoever. This is my reflex but I don't have the knowledge Chef Ono and others do have. We are fortunate to have them as a part of the Food 52 community. Many people ask food safety questions in a way that suggests they know the "correct" answer, but would like some scientific permission that it's okay to go against what they already know. The original question ATG117 asked is: "I'm assuming they should be tossed?" Personally, I love these questions because each time I learn more about food safety. Bring on the questions, the evidence, and the debate!

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ChefOno
ChefOno November 8, 2013

These aren't my rules, I didn't make them up, they come from microbiologists and other food safety experts with practical knowledge of the hazards involved, specifically (but far from exclusively) the USDA. So, yes, they are very much targeted at the home cook (food service is governed by similar but stricter FDA regs).

Do I always take a strict stance? Hardly. I'm on record as being in favor of bending certain rules at appropriate times. BUT.. one must either know precisely what the risks are and how to overcome them, or be prepared to pay the price. (To be clear, this is not one of those times. What would be gained from taking *any* risk, let alone one that could kill you?)

I'm curious, what differentiates a "home cook" from a pro? Personally I'd rather sicken an entire dinner service than put my mother in the hospital.

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healthierkitchen
healthierkitchen November 9, 2013

just out of curiosity, how safe are the recipes for slow roasted tomatoes that have you blast oven at high temp then turn it off and leave the tomatoes overnight? Is it OK because they're not wrapped in aluminum foil?

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healthierkitchen
healthierkitchen November 9, 2013

just out of curiosity, how safe are the recipes for slow roasted tomatoes that have you blast oven at high temp then turn it off and leave the tomatoes overnight? Is it OK because they're not wrapped in aluminum foil?

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healthierkitchen
healthierkitchen November 9, 2013

just out of curiosity, how safe are the recipes for slow roasted tomatoes that have you blast oven at high temp then turn it off and leave the tomatoes overnight? Is it OK because they're not wrapped in aluminum foil?

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Greenstuff
Greenstuff November 9, 2013

I've never tried that method. But two factors--the no foil and the acidity of the tomatoes--make for a much lower risk.

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Greenstuff
Greenstuff November 9, 2013

I kind of like this simple list from the Health Agency of Canada.

The following foods have been associated with botulism:

improperly prepared home-canned, low-acid foods (for example, corn, green beans, peas, asparagus, beets, mushrooms, spaghetti sauce, salmon);
improperly stored low acid fruit juices (for example, carrot juice);
leftover baked potatoes stored in aluminium foil; and
honey, which has been linked to cases of infantile botulism and should not be fed to infants under one year of age.

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