How long can food be left at room temperature safely?

Leaving food out at room temperature safely becomes trickier during summer months. When the temperatures soar during summer in some parts of the country, barbecues simultaneously become more appealing and more hazardous. Leaving meat, cheese and other dairy-based foods in the heat for too long is often a recipe for disaster.

In hot weather (above 90 degrees Fahrenheit), food should never sit out for more than one hour. If it's below 90 degrees, discard any food after two hours.

Bacteria multiply most rapidly at temperatures between 40 degrees and 140 degrees, and can reach dangerous levels. So, smart practices for storing and cooking your food are extremely important.
Vandana  R. Sheth
Nutrition & Dietetics
One hour if it is 90+ degrees F, two hours if it is under 90 degrees F.

Visit for more tips
Melissa Joy Dobbins
Nutrition & Dietetics
Follow the 2-hour rule: Don't let perishable food sit out at room temperature for more than 2 hours. If the temperature is above 90 degrees, limit that time to only one hour.

For more food safety tips visit 

Continue Learning about Food Storage & Health

How long are cooked meat leftovers safe to eat?
How long are cooked meat leftovers safe to eat? Determine how long cooked meat leftovers can be safe...
More Answers
How should jicama be stored?
Whole jicama can be kept in a cool, dark place for up to two weeks. Learn more from our contributors...
More Answers
How can I store pistachio nuts?
The nut meats, even those still in the shell should be stored in an airtight container in the refrig...
More Answers
How can I store cashew nuts?
They should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, where they will keep for about s...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.