Bacon is a beloved food item that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Whether it’s crispy and savory on a breakfast plate or crumbled on top of a salad, bacon is a staple in many households.
But what happens when you accidentally leave your uncooked turkey bacon out on the counter? How long can it sit out before it becomes unsafe to eat?
In this article, we’ll explore the guidelines for storing and handling uncooked turkey bacon to ensure that it stays fresh and safe to eat.
So, grab a cup of coffee and let’s dive in!
How Long Can Uncooked Turkey Bacon Sit Out?
According to food safety standards, any raw meat, including uncooked turkey bacon, should not be left out at room temperature for more than two hours. This is because bacteria can grow on cooked food between 40°F and 140°F, which is known as the temperature danger zone.
If you accidentally leave your uncooked turkey bacon out on the counter for longer than two hours, it’s best to throw it away. This is because dangerous pathogens can grow on uncooked turkey bacon just as they can on regular pork bacon.
It’s important to note that cured bacon, including turkey bacon, is preserved with salt and sodium nitrites. This method of curing prevents the growth of bacteria and makes it safe to eat. However, uncured or unpreserved bacon without nitrites is not safe to eat if left out at room temperature for too long.
The Importance Of Proper Storage For Uncooked Turkey Bacon
Proper storage is crucial for maximizing the shelf life and quality of uncooked turkey bacon. The USDA recommends storing any type of bacon raw in a refrigerator at 40°F or below for up to a week, and in a freezer below zero degrees Fahrenheit for up to four months. However, for the best flavor and quality, it’s recommended to cook and eat an open package of turkey bacon within two to three days or freeze it.
When storing uncooked turkey bacon, it’s important to keep it refrigerated or frozen directly after use. Uncooked and unopened bacon can be stored as is, but it’s recommended to wrap the package with tin foil if freezing to prevent freezer burn. If the package has been opened, wrap the uncooked bacon in tin foil or store it in an airtight container to maximize freshness before placing it in the refrigerator or freezer.
Cooked bacon should also be properly stored to maintain its quality. It should be separated into small portions and wrapped with paper towels prior to freezing. Unsliced slabs of bacon can be wrapped with foil or placed in an airtight container and stored in the refrigerator for a few weeks at a time. However, they should not be frozen as they can turn rancid very quickly.
If you notice any changes in smell, color, or texture, you may have bad turkey bacon, and it’s best to throw it out. When stored properly, uncooked turkey bacon can last for up to two weeks in the fridge and eight months in the freezer. It’s essential to follow proper storage guidelines to ensure that your uncooked turkey bacon stays fresh and safe for consumption.
Understanding The Risk Of Bacterial Growth In Uncooked Turkey Bacon
Uncooked turkey bacon is a potential breeding ground for harmful bacteria and parasites, which can cause serious health problems if consumed. Bacterial infections and trichinellosis, also known as trichinosis, are two common illnesses associated with consuming uncooked turkey bacon.
Bacteria on the surface of the turkey bacon can multiply even when stored in the refrigerator. Cooking the turkey bacon to an internal temperature of 165°F normally kills bacteria and parasites. However, it’s difficult to check the temperature of thin meats like turkey bacon, so cooking it until it’s crispy can help ensure it has been heated enough.
Lactic acid bacteria are also a concern when it comes to uncooked turkey bacon. These bacteria break down carbohydrates into organic acids, giving the meat a slimy texture and sour odor. While lactic acid bacteria in healthy amounts can have health benefits like a stronger immune system and better nutrient absorption, an excess of these bacteria can promote the growth of harmful bacteria.
It’s important to store uncooked turkey bacon in the refrigerator and use it within the expiration date listed on the package. If the turkey bacon has an off-odor, discolored appearance, or slimy texture, it should not be eaten and should be thrown away. Eating tainted turkey bacon can lead to severe food-borne illnesses that can be dangerous.
Tips For Safely Handling And Cooking Uncooked Turkey Bacon
When handling uncooked turkey bacon, it is important to take precautions to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria. Here are some tips for safely handling and cooking uncooked turkey bacon:
1. Keep raw bacon away from other food items: Raw turkey bacon should be kept separate from other food items in your grocery cart, fridge, and during meal preparation. This helps to prevent cross-contamination.
2. Wash your hands and surfaces: Before and after handling raw turkey bacon, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water. Also, wash any surface the raw bacon touches with soap and hot water, including utensils, cutting boards, and countertops.
3. Cook thoroughly: It is crucial to cook turkey bacon thoroughly to kill any harmful bacteria that may be present. Turkey bacon should be cooked until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). Use a meat thermometer to ensure that the temperature is reached.
4. Store properly: Once cooked, turkey bacon should be stored in an airtight container and kept in the refrigerator. It can last up to 5 days when stored properly. If you want to freeze your cooked bacon, make sure that it’s wrapped tightly with aluminum foil or placed in a freezer-safe resealable bag.
5. Thaw safely: The safest way to thaw uncooked turkey bacon is to move it from your freezer to your fridge the night before cooking or eating it. Alternatively, frozen bacon can be thawed in a ziplock bag submerged in a bowl of cold water, provided you change the water every 15-20 minutes or in 20 to 30-second intervals on the defrost setting in the microwave.
By following these tips for safely handling and cooking uncooked turkey bacon, you can reduce your risk of foodborne illness and enjoy this delicious meat safely.
What To Do If You Accidentally Leave Uncooked Turkey Bacon Out Too Long
If you accidentally leave your uncooked turkey bacon out on the counter for longer than two hours, it’s best to discard it. It’s not worth the risk of consuming contaminated meat that could lead to foodborne illness.
To prevent this from happening in the future, it’s important to be mindful of how long you leave your uncooked turkey bacon out. If you know you won’t be able to cook it within two hours, it’s best to store it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.
When storing uncooked turkey bacon, make sure to keep it in a sealed container or package in the refrigerator. This will prevent any bacteria from contaminating other foods in your fridge.
If you’re unsure if your uncooked turkey bacon is still safe to eat, use your senses to determine if it has gone bad. Look for any discoloration or slime on the meat, and smell for any off odors. If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to err on the side of caution and throw it away.
Conclusion: Keeping Your Uncooked Turkey Bacon Safe And Delicious
To keep your uncooked turkey bacon safe and delicious, it’s important to follow proper storage guidelines. Always refrigerate your uncooked turkey bacon as soon as possible after purchasing it. If you plan on using it within a few days, store it in the fridge in its original packaging. If you won’t be using it for longer than a few days, consider wrapping it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil to help prevent freezer burn and extend its shelf life.
If you do decide to freeze your uncooked turkey bacon, make sure to label it with the date so that you can keep track of how long it’s been stored. When you’re ready to use it, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight rather than on the counter at room temperature. This will help prevent any harmful bacteria from growing on the meat.
When cooking your uncooked turkey bacon, make sure to cook it thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165°F. This will help kill any bacteria that may be present and ensure that your bacon is safe to eat. By following these guidelines, you can enjoy delicious and safe uncooked turkey bacon for all of your favorite recipes.