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How long can food be out of the fridge before it kills me?

The short answer is four hours, but there's a lot more to it than that.

Avoiding food poisoning is complex (the p.c. term now is "foodborne illness," lest we start tainting the deli guy as a "poisoner"), but it can be largely boiled down to a few key points about how bacteria grow, taught to us by our friend Fat Tom.

Fat Tom is not, in fact, a person, but a mnemonic device used by the National Restaurant Association, for whom wit and cuteness don't come easily. (Its literature contains earnest warnings against foods that have been "time temperature abused," and warns against getting your customers sick with an illustration of a judge's gavel banging on a stack of cash.) But it is good at telling you how to keep bacteria from growing on your lunch. So, Fat Tom helps you remember what makes a bacteria-friendly environment and how to avoid creating one:

F is for Food: Bacteria need food to grow.

Click "source" to read the entire article.
 
 

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