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afghanmoose's avatar

Why is it bad to defrost meat/vegetables at room temperature?

Asked by afghanmoose (554points) February 10th, 2009 from iPhone

What sicknesses develop after frozen meat/veges are defrosted outside on my counter and is it against the law or something cuz my friends spaz when they come to eat and see that.

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17 Answers

poofandmook's avatar

It’s a breeding ground for bad bacteria. If you thaw in the fridge, it stays cold enough to keep the bacteria away while it thaws. If you thaw in the microwave, it warms too quick for bacteria to take hold.

gailcalled's avatar

Salmonella or related diseases will really make your former friends spaz.

Ashpea9288's avatar

Bacteria thrives on food at room temperature, that’s why you should never leave food out for long periods of time (like in a pot/pan after cooking) unless it’s covered. I doubt you’d die or get seriously sick, but with raw meat it is best to be on the safe side and defrost in the fridge or microwave.

augustlan's avatar

I, too, would throw a fit if someone wanted to serve me meat thawed on a countertop. Most bacteria can only thrive in a certain temperature range. That range? Room temperature, roughly. No food that should be cold or hot should be left at room temperature for more than 2 hours. You’re setting up a colony. While most healthy people won’t suffer too much (usually just diarrhea) by ingesting these things, the very young, the very old, and those with compromised immune systems can die because of it!

Thegary's avatar

The best method I have found is to keep the food in a plastic bag and place in room-temp water. The plastic should keep most bacteria away. But also be aware that if you do this for extended periods of time, the bacteria that naturally inhabits the food in a dormant state will grow inside the bag.

poofandmook's avatar

I lived with my boyfriend and his parents for 7 months in between jobs a couple of years ago, and while I was working 3rd shift, his mom was always great and fixed me a plate so I could eat before work. Problem is, she left that plate out from dinnertime on the stove. I had more diarrhea in those 7 months than I ever did my entire life. The woman had good intentions, but has NO concept of food storage.

afghanmoose's avatar

What if the meat is tightly sealed in plastic

poofandmook's avatar

doesn’t matter.

afghanmoose's avatar

Tru,thanks everyone,wats an alternative then,cuz my fridge is packed and i have a toaster oven

augustlan's avatar

You can defrost sealed meat fairly quickly in a sink of cold water (not warm, as above). Change the water every 30 minutes. Personally, I’d clear some room in the fridge (put the meat in a dish or on a small cookie sheet to catch the bloody juice that escapes as it thaws), or invest in a microwave.

poofandmook's avatar

I second August. A cold water bath, with frequent water changes, will thaw meat rather quickly. Also, depending on the meat and your plans for it, a creative cooking process can be helpful. For instance, with ground meat, you can keep scraping the cooked meat from the frozen chunk and keep it aside until it’s all thawed. Or a slow bake at a low temp or crockpot method is great for frozen meat.

robmandu's avatar

An alternative room-temp type of solution would be to use some kind of rapid defroster plate, like this one.

Instead of waiting hours, it often only takes minutes (depending on several factors, of course).

augustlan's avatar

@robmandu Do you have one of those? They look kind of awesome. Can you use the same plate for stove-top diffusion and as a defroster plate?

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

Well, I thaw meat out in the plastic bag in very warm water and have never had a problem with any sort of illness. It’s obvious that I am not susceptible to mere bacteria.

robmandu's avatar

@augustlan, I have a different one that’s not so pricey. And for mine, it specifically warns against using it on the stove top.

The one I linked appears to be of superior construction and materials. And it would seem from their site that it might very well work like you want. You should probably call and check directly, though.

augustlan's avatar

Thanks, rob.

lnthemaat's avatar

Bacteria will only really start to grow once the meat gets around room temp (some will even grow at fridge temp). If you are thawing steaks that have a pretty large surface to volume ration, and you keep it sealed, there is no reason why you cannot thaw it initially at room temp, as long as you put it in the fridge once it is approaching room temp, which is much warmer than thaw temp. Alternatively, you can cook it as soon as it is thawed. When thawing at room temp the heat will distribute to the center of the meat while the frozen inside will cool the surface down, Its all about equilibrium. Just make sure the meat does not sit at room temp after it is thawed. Ironically, cooking experts actually advise to let a good steak warm up to room temp before cooking, so that you can control the cooking temp and not burn the outside while the inside is still raw. Any bacteria that does grow will most likely be on the surface and be killed during cooking.

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