Food Safety: Is It Okay To Eat Cooked Meat Left Out Overnight?

is it okay to eat cooked meat left out overnight

There will be times that you wake up in the morning and realize that the last night’s food hasn’t been put in the refrigerator.

You think it might be okay since it’s not raw, reheating will make it look the same and taste the same as its original state.

Will things work that way?

And is all the food the same?

In this post, we will walk you through the concerns about left out cooked dishes, especially pork: signs of spoilage, health concerns when eating it, and tips for storing cooked pork.

What Happens to Pork When Left Out?

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According to USDA, the Danger Zone is the temperature range between 40 °F and 140 °F in which bacteria can grow at an alarming rate.

If the perishable food (such as meat or poultry) has been left out at room temperature overnight (more than two hours) it may not be safe for consumption.

There are 2 types of bacteria that can grow in the left out food: pathogenic bacteria and spoilage bacteria.

Spoilage one will cause bad smell, funky look in left out food, but it doesn’t cause any serious health issues to you.

Instead, cooked dishes that are contaminated by pathogens won’t show any differences in the smell or taste, but it can cause you to fall sick.

5 Signs That Cooked Pork Is Spoiled?

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Texture might be the first easy-to-identify clue that your cooked meat has gone bad.

If you feel that your cooked pork is covered by a slimy substance, better safe than sorry, don’t try to taste the meat, you should toss it out into the trash bin.


There won’t be a significant change in color of cooked meat that makes you realize it has gone bad.

However, if you feel like the meat color is faded, or darker, coming along with the slimy texture, then it is no longer safe for eating.


Similar to raw meat, smell is also a factor to consider when checking your cooked meat.

If you notice there is a rancid odor like urine from your left out dish, just go ahead and discard it.


When it is a visible mold growing covering the pork dish, you should just call it quits.

Some people think that if the mold part is removed, the meat is still fine for consuming.

However, you won’t know if that type of mold is harmful or harmless, and if the mold is grown in the whole big piece of meat or just grown on the meat surface.

How Long Can You Leave Pork at Room Temperature?

The same rule applied for cooked pork: it should be stored in the refrigerator within two hours after being taken off the heat, if the room temperature is about  40 °F and 90 °F.

If the room is over 90 °F, then the pork should be preserved in the refrigerator within one hour since the bacteria is growing more quickly.

What Happens If You Eat Cooked Meat Left Out Overnight?

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Cooked pork overnight might cause some serious food-borne illness if being consumed.

Some typical symptoms when you have food poisoning are: diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and fever poisoning.

If easy-to-fall-sick people (such as older adults or pregnant women) have food poisoning, it can even be fatal.

One important thing to take note is: Reheating something that has been sitting at room temperature for longer than two hours won’t be safe from bacteria.

Some bacteria such as staphylococcus aureus can not be destroyed using heat.

What Is the Best Way to Preserve Cooked Pork Leftover?

Time needed: 2 hours.

The very first thing to do is to store the pork in the fridge within one or 2 hours after cooking.

There are 3 main steps for successfully storing the cooked meat are:

Step 1: Wrapping

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Wrap it with several layers of plastic bags, aluminum foil or paper can also help to keep air away and keep the meat fresh.

Step 2: Temperature Deciding

The best temperature for keeping pork in the refrigerator is at 40 degrees or below, cooked pork will maintain its best quality with 4 to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Leftover cooked meat can be safely kept in the freezer for up to 3 months with the temperature below 0 degrees.

Step 3: Labeling

Write the storing date as well as the type of meat on the wrapper will help you identify it for later use.

In Short

We hope this article will give you some insight on how to deal with leftover cooked pork and how to store the cooked dish properly.

If you have any helpful experiences on cooking and storing pork, don’t hesitate to share with us in the comment section below!