It happens all the time, things come up after dinner, and suddenly, the food has been left out for several hours.
Food that is left out potentially can be dangerous as the sitting food can gather bacteria.
If you love lasagna, here is some information that will help you gauge whether it is safe after being left out.
How Long Can Lasagna Sit Out?
Generally, your lasagna can last around two hours uncovered before gathering bacteria. However, if the area you live in is hot, the lasagna will stay for no longer than an hour.
The Danger Zone
Usually, when food is left out at room temperature, the exposed food is left in the range of temperatures commonly referred to as the “Danger Zone.”
This range of temperatures is from 40 degrees Fahrenheit to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
That is a massive range of temperatures, and generally, unless the food is in the refrigerator or being cooked, the food will be sitting in this range of temperatures.
But it is essential to know why it is referred to as the “Danger Zone.”
It all has to do with bacteria. Bacteria is everywhere, and it exists to spread.
So, when bacteria have ideal circumstances to thrive, like a moist place, an ideal temperature, and a food source, then they will multiply.
And, unfortunately, a warm lasagna on the dinner table is the perfect home for bacteria.
The problem that we encounter with bacteria is that it makes us sick.
That is why the USDA urges that food should not be left out to gather bacteria for prolonged amounts of time.
If the food left out is consumed, there is a likelihood of food poisoning from the bacteria that gathered on it.
It is always best to put away leftover food as soon as is convenient, and food that is left out for longer than a couple of hours should not be trusted.
Because of this, you may find yourself throwing away a lot of lasagnas.
But hey, it is better to be safe rather than spending some miserable days and nights with food poisoning.
There are some myths and common adages that you may hear that prompt you to trust eating food that has been left out.
Please do not believe them; food that has been left out for more than a couple of hours is simply not safe anymore.
Myths that Should Not be Trusted
If food has been left out for long periods, some people think that if they heat it back up, that will kill the bacteria that formed.
While some bacteria can be killed with reentry into the microwave or oven, this does not guarantee that the food will be safe to eat.
First, heating the food may not kill all of the bacteria gathered. Second, some bacteria can produce heat-resistant toxins that make you sick.
Another common myth is that freezing the food will make it safe again.
However, once thawed, the food can still make you sick for many of the same reasons that heated food can. Bacteria can survive frozen temperatures.
Therefore, if you neglect to put away your lasagna before that two-hour threshold, it will probably be safest to dispose of the leftovers simply.
Freezing and reheating will not necessarily make the food safe to eat.
Tips For Dealing With Raw Food
One of the most common ways people get sick from the food is through improperly cooked meat.
Properly cooking your meat can help avoid many risks when dealing with bacteria in your food.
When cooking raw meat, be sure that the meat reaches the recommended internal temperature by using a food thermometer. Do not trust the eyeball test or whether the juices run clear or not.
Another common myth regarding raw meat is that you either have to use it or throw it away once it is thawed.
This is only partly true.
If you thaw your raw meat in the refrigerator, you can actually refreeze the meat if you decide not to use it.
You can refreeze meat thawed in the fridge because the meat never was exposed to the “Danger Zone” of temperatures.
However, if you thaw your meat outside of the fridge by placing it on the counter, you must either cook it or throw it away.
Refreezing, the meat will now be exposed to bacteria and will need to be cooked promptly in order to be safe to eat.
Frequently Asked Questions About How Long Can Lasagna Sit Out
I have eaten food left out before; why didn’t I get sick?
The simple answer is that some individuals handle bacteria better than others. Foodborne illnesses can affect anyone, but just because it doesn’t affect you does not mean that others won’t get sick.
How sick can I get from bacteria on my lasagna?
While some people think that food poisoning is just a code for an upset stomach, it can be much more severe. Foodborne illness can cause severe vomiting, fevers, and diahrrea, leading to dehydration.
So, if you are a fan of layers and layers of gooey lasagna, make sure to cover and refrigerate the leftovers promptly after dinner.
Making this a habit in your home will help you have a cleaner kitchen, and it will let you have more lasagna.
If you ever leave the lasagna out for too long, take your losses and don’t risk getting sick.