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The Dangers of Eating Cooked Chicken Left Out for 12 Hours: How to Tell If It’s Safe to Eat

The Dangers of Eating Cooked Chicken Left Out for 12 Hours: How to Tell If It’s Safe to Eat

The Dangers of Cooked Chicken Left Out for 12 Hours

It’s a common mistake to leave cooked chicken out on the kitchen table or buffet for too long. But did you know that cooked chicken should never be left out for more than two hours? Doing so can lead to foodborne illness, which is why it’s important to know the dangers of eating cooked chicken left out for 12 hours. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the risks of eating cooked chicken left out for 12 hours, how to safely store cooked chicken, and tips for keeping cooked chicken safe and edible for longer periods of time.

1. What Are the Dangers of Eating Cooked Chicken Left Out for 12 Hours?

Eating cooked chicken that has been left out for 12 hours or more can be dangerous and can cause foodborne illnesses. This is because bacteria can grow quickly on food that has been left out at room temperature for too long. Cooking chicken does kill some bacteria, but not all bacteria are killed by heat.

When bacteria grow on food, they produce toxins that can make you sick. These toxins can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. In extreme cases, food poisoning can even lead to hospitalization.

Bacteria that can cause foodborne illnesses can be found in raw and cooked chicken, so it is important to handle and store cooked chicken safely to avoid illness. Bacteria such as Salmonella, Staphylococcus, and Escherichia coli (E. coli) can all cause food poisoning and can be present in cooked chicken.

The most common way for cooked chicken to become contaminated is through cross-contamination from raw chicken or other raw foods. Cross-contamination can occur when raw chicken comes into contact with cooked chicken or other cooked foods, such as on a cutting board, in a sink, or on cooking utensils. This is why it is important to always wash hands and surfaces thoroughly after handling raw chicken.

In addition to cross-contamination, cooked chicken can also become contaminated if it is left out at room temperature for too long. Bacteria can multiply quickly on food that is left out at room temperature, so it is important to store cooked chicken in the refrigerator or freezer as soon as possible after cooking.

2. Safely Handling and Storing Cooked Chicken to Avoid Foodborne Illness

Cooked chicken should always be handled and stored safely to prevent foodborne illness. In order to avoid food poisoning, it is important to remember the following:

  • Always wash hands and surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after handling cooked chicken.
  • Cook chicken to an internal temperature of 165°F using a food thermometer.
  • Refrigerate cooked chicken within two hours of cooking.
  • Store cooked chicken in a shallow container and avoid over-stuffing the refrigerator.
  • Do not leave cooked chicken out at room temperature for more than two hours.

When storing cooked chicken, it is important to remember that the warmer the temperature, the faster bacteria can grow. If cooked chicken is left out at temperatures between 40°F and 140°F, bacteria can double every 20 minutes. This means that the risk of foodborne illness is much higher when cooked chicken is left out for more than two hours.

Cooked chicken should also be stored in a shallow container to reduce the risk of cross-contamination. Cross-contamination occurs when bacteria from raw meat or poultry is transferred to other food items, such as cooked chicken. This can occur if raw and cooked foods are stored together in the same container, or if the same cutting board or knife is used to prepare both raw and cooked foods.

Finally, it is also important to remember that cooked chicken should never be stored in the refrigerator for more than four days. Cooked chicken should be used within this time frame to ensure it remains safe to eat. If cooked chicken is still left over after four days, it should be frozen to extend its shelf life.

3. How to Tell If Cooked Chicken Is Still Safe to Eat After 12 Hours

Cooked chicken left out for 12 hours is a potential danger to your health. Knowing how to tell if cooked chicken is still safe to eat after 12 hours can help you avoid foodborne illness. It’s important to understand the signs that indicate cooked chicken has spoiled and should be discarded.

Smell

The smell of cooked chicken left out for 12 hours is one of the first indicators that it’s no longer safe to consume. If the chicken has a sour or off smell, it’s likely no longer safe to eat. The smell should be mild and not overpowering. If you notice a strong smell, it is best to discard the chicken.

Appearance

The appearance of cooked chicken left out for 12 hours can also be an indication that it’s no longer safe to eat. The chicken should be white or light in color and should not have any dark spots or discoloration. If the chicken has an off-color or there are any signs of mold, it is best to discard the chicken.

Texture

The texture of cooked chicken left out for 12 hours can also be an indication that it’s no longer safe to eat. The chicken should be firm and not slimy or sticky. If the chicken feels slimy or sticky, it’s likely no longer safe to consume.

Temperature

The temperature of cooked chicken left out for 12 hours is another indicator that it’s no longer safe to consume. If the chicken has been left out at room temperature for more than two hours, it should be discarded. It’s best to check the temperature of the chicken with a food thermometer to make sure it is still safe to eat.

See Also
The Secret to Perfectly Cooked Rice

By taking the time to understand the signs that cooked chicken is no longer safe to eat, you can help prevent food poisoning. Always be sure to store cooked chicken properly and discard if it has been left out for more than 12 hours.

4. Tips for Keeping Cooked Chicken Safe and Edible For Longer Periods of Time

Cooked chicken can be kept safe and edible for longer periods of time if certain precautions are taken. To ensure cooked chicken remains safe to consume, it is important to refrigerate or freeze it as soon as possible after it has finished cooking. This helps to prevent bacteria from growing and spreading. Additionally, cooked chicken should not be left out at room temperature for more than two hours.

Keeping cooked chicken in the refrigerator is a great way to extend its shelf life. Cooked chicken can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days. For optimal safety, cooked chicken should be stored in shallow containers or wrapped securely in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. This will help to prevent the chicken from becoming contaminated with other foods or bacteria from the refrigerator.

Freezing cooked chicken is an effective way to extend its shelf life and make it safe to consume for up to six months. Cooked chicken can be frozen in airtight containers, freezer bags, or wrapped in aluminum foil or plastic wrap. For best results, the cooked chicken should be divided into smaller portions before freezing to ensure it defrosts evenly. Additionally, cooked chicken should be labeled with the date it was cooked and placed in the freezer immediately after it has cooled.

Reheating cooked chicken is also important for food safety. Cooked chicken should always be reheated to at least 165°F. Reheating cooked chicken in the microwave is one of the easiest and most effective methods. The chicken should be placed in a microwave-safe dish and covered with a lid or plastic wrap. The microwave should be set to high and the chicken should be reheated for two to three minutes until it is hot throughout.

By following these tips, cooked chicken can be kept safe and edible for longer periods of time. It is important to remember that cooked chicken should always be stored, frozen, and reheated properly to avoid foodborne illness. Additionally, it is a good idea to check cooked chicken for spoilage before consuming it.


It’s important to be aware of the dangers of eating cooked chicken left out for 12 hours and to take the necessary precautions to ensure your food is safe and edible. By taking the time to properly handle and store cooked chicken, you can prevent foodborne illnesses and keep your food safe and delicious for longer periods of time. By doing this, you can enjoy cooked chicken without putting your health at risk.

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