Last Updated on October 6, 2023 by Shari Mason
As food experts, we know how important handling and storing raw meat products correctly is. And when it comes to raw meat, many overlook a crucial factor: room temperature.
While leaving it out before cooking may be tempting, it can pose serious health risks. So, how long can raw steak sit out?
We will share our knowledge and insights to help you make the right decision on food safety.
How Long Can Raw Steak Sit Out at Room Temperature?
Based on USDA recommendation, raw steak can sit out for no more than two hours, but if the temperature rises above 90 °F, the time is reduced to one hour .
Knowing how long you can leave raw meat sitting at room temperature is important to ensure food safety.
So, on a warm day, you must store meat in the fridge or cook it quickly to avoid contaminated meat.
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Can You Let It Sit Out Overnight?
No. Leaving your raw meats at room temperature overnight is a definite no-no. Letting the meat sit out for more than two hours can increase the risk of bacterial growth.
In addition, the Danger Zone temperature range of 40 °F to 140 °F can cause bacteria to double in just 20 minutes in raw ground meats, leading to contaminated food and food poisoning.
If the surrounding ambient temperature is cool, the raw beef may be safe for up to four hours at room temperature. Still, after that, it’s best to discard them because they are considered unsafe.
What Happens If Raw Meat Is Left Out for Too Long?
Eating steak that has been left out can cause food poisoning, with symptoms including fever, vomiting, and diarrhea that can last for days.
Do not leave steak out as it will lead to the growth of dangerous bacteria, such as salmonella and E. coli.
Eat hot food promptly and do not leave cooked meat out for no longer than two hours is essential to avoiding these risks.
If you aren’t sure if it is fresh, you should throw it away. It will keep you out of the danger zone, where harmful bacteria thrive.
Signs of spoilage, such as a slimy texture or a pungent odor, indicate the presence of contaminants. If left out for over a day or two, mold may also develop, making it unsafe for consumption.
It’s crucial to adhere to the same rules for handling perishable food (raw or cooked meat), including monitoring the time and temperature, to prevent the growth of pathogens and ensure a tender texture.
What Are the Symptoms of a Bad Raw Steak?
A clear or yellowish, sticky surface on meat is a sign of spoilage. When touched, this coating gives the meat a glossy look and a slippery or sticky texture.
This layer is often followed by the growth of mold, which is a sign that the meat is contaminated and shouldn’t be eaten.
A quick way to detect spoiled meat is by smelling it. While raw ground meat doesn’t smell good, the difference between fresh and bad meat is apparent.
“When it comes to unfrozen meat, it is safe to let it sit for up to two hours at room temperature and up to one hour if the room’s temperature is above 90 degrees. However, if the surrounding temperature is high, leaving the meat out for a shorter period is recommended to avoid contamination.”– Jan Soloven, Trained Chef
Spoiled meats have a pungent smell because of the ammonia from dangerous bacteria.
Discolored meat can indicate spoilage. Poultry should have a bluish-white to yellow hue; raw pork should be pink-gray; and raw ground beef should be red to purplish-red or brownish-red.
However, meat should be discarded if it turns green or greenish-brown.
Should You Leave Raw Steak Out Before Cooking?
Yes. Letting the raw meat sit at room temperature before cooking leads to an evenly cooked steak.
Cooking meat with cold water can cause the muscle fibers to contract, resulting in uneven cooking.
To properly cook a 500-gram steak, it’s recommended to take frozen meat out of the fridge 30-40 minutes before cooking. It allows it to thaw and reach room temperature.
Be patient and avoid cooking at high temperatures. Cooking at high heat for more than one hour will result in a dry and uneven steak.
Tips & Tricks When Dealing with Raw Steak
- Leave steak to room temperature for 30 to 40 minutes before cooking to ensure more even cooking.
- Before cooking, season the meat liberally with salt and pepper.
- Remove moisture from the steak, like in dry-aged beef, by patting it with paper towels.
- Check the internal temperature of the cooking steak with a food thermometer. It will ensure that it is cooked to your specifications .
- After it’s been cooked, the cooked meat needs to rest for a few minutes so the juices can spread evenly.
- Before you freeze steak and other meat, put it in a vacuum-sealed container to stop it from going bad quickly, getting moldy, or getting a bad taste or smell.
- Check the color of most steaks and leave meat before cooking to ensure it is fresh and not spoiled.
- If you don’t know whether your fresh meat is safe or fresh, you should throw it away.
What is the ideal temperature for storing raw steak?
Whether you are storing meat or dry aged beef, it is important to keep it within the range of 32-40 degrees Fahrenheit (0-4 degrees Celsius) to slow bacterial growth and maintain freshness.
Leaving steak out at room temperature can allow bacteria to multiply rapidly, leading to spoilage and the risk of foodborne illness.
Is steak that has been out for a while still safe to eat?
No, do not eat meat left unrefrigerated for a long time, even if you wash it or cook it at high temperatures.
The longer hot food like steak is left unattended; the more bacteria can grow, making it unsafe to consume.
How should I store raw steak to maintain its freshness?
Transfer the beef to a container and cover it loosely with plastic wrap or foil to promote airflow, prevent sweating, and ensure breathing if using a plastic container.
To safely handle raw meat and other foods, follow food safety guidelines for storing it and make sure it stays fresh. The duration of leaving meat out depends on temperature, humidity, and airflow.
Food safety is important to avoid getting sick from food, and if you eat steak it’s even more important.
If you have meat left out for too long, you better throw it out. By keeping these considerations in mind, you can enjoy your steak safely.
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