Can you eat a baked potato left out overnight?
In this brief study, we will answer the question, “can you eat a baked potato left out overnight?” and will also describe the best ways of storing potatoes.
Can you eat a baked potato left out overnight?
No, you should not eat baked potatoes left out overnight. Cooked foods are highly perishable foods. Baked potatoes or potato salad is related to several food outbreaks involving bacteria, such as Salmonella, Shigella, Clostridium botulinum, Staphylococcus and others (5).
At normal room temperature i.e 22°C (70°F), baked potatoes should not be left for more than 2 hours. And if the ambient temperature is high at 30°C (90°F), a maximum of one hour (1).
It should be noted that after two hours without refrigeration, the bacterial growth has advanced to a level considered dangerous for consumption.
Can you eat baked potatoes that were left out overnight?
No, you should not eat baked potatoes that have been left out overnight. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, you should discard any perishable food that was kept unrefrigerated for more than 2 hours.
After cooking food, you should cool them to a temperature of 40°F (4°C) within 2 hours and store it in the refrigerator or freezer (3).
What are the risks of eating baked potatoes that were left out overnight?
The risks of eating baked potatoes that were left out overnight are of experiencing an episode of foodborne disease. Foodborne illnesses may be resulted from inadequate storage of food, such as high temperatures of storage.
This improper handling of food, including leftover foods, favors the contamination and growth of bacteria in food, which is faster by higher temperatures (1).
Not refrigerating food within 2 hours after being cooked is one of the reasons that could lead to food outbreaks (4). Food outbreaks were reported in the United States associated with the consumption of baked potatoes or potato salads, involving the pathogenic bacteria Salmonella, Shigella, Clostridium botulinum, Staphylococcus (5).
Possible symptoms of foodborne diseases are nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, stomach cramps and flu-like symptoms (4).
Serious consequences and even hospitalizations and death may be a result of foodborne illnesses. In this way, eating baked potatoes that have been left out overnight is not worth the risk. Rather, you should cook another sauce with meat.
What to do with the baked potatoes that have been left out overnight?
The United States Department of Agriculture advises to throw away any leftover foods that have been left at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
Therefore, if baked potatoes have been left out overnight, they should be discarded (3).
Why should baked potatoes be stored in the refrigerator?
Baked or cooked potatoes should be stored in the refrigerator to improve its shelf life. Baked or cooked potatoes kept at room temperature should be eaten immediately. If not, they may bring a health risk,as microorganisms are able to grow fastly at temperatures above 4°C or 40°F (1).
When stored in the refrigerator, baked potatoes can be consumed within 3-4 days, and when frozen, they will last 2 months (3).
How to safely bake and store potatoes?
To bake and store potatoes safely, follow the instructions (2,6):
- Wash hands with running water and soap before preparing food
- Clean surfaces and utensils and all equipment that come into contact with food with running water and soap
- Wash the potatoes with running water
- Pierce the potatoes with a fork in several spots and bake them for approximately 40 to 45 minutes until soft
- Do not handle cooked food while handling uncooked food to prevent cross contaminations
- Let it cool down to a temperature of 40°F. If necessary, use the shallow pan method to faster results
- Place the leftovers in a container with a lid
- Refrigerate or freeze the leftovers baked potatoes
Other FAQs about Potatoes which you may be interested in.
In this brief study, we answered the question, “can you eat a baked potato left out overnight?” and also described the best ways of storing potatoes.
- How temperatures affect food. United States Department of Agriculture.
- Keep Food Safe! Food Safety Basics. United States Department of Agriculture.
- Leftovers and Food Safety. United States Department of Agriculture.
- Bruhn, Christine M., and Howard G. Schutz. Consumer food safety knowledge and practices. J food safety, 1999, 19, 73-87.
- Bryan, Frank L. Risks associated with vehicles of foodborne pathogens and toxins. J Food Protect, 1988, 51, 498-508.
- Garden-Robinson, Julie. Potatoes from garden to table. 2006. North Dakota State University and U.S. Department of Agriculture