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#1
Old 12-07-2014, 09:13 AM
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Is the "warm" setting on a crockpot hot enough to keep food safe?

Cooked something with ground beef in a crock pot. Left it on the warm setting and forgot about it all day - ended up spending somewhere around 8-10 hours on warm (not low - there's high/low/warm), at which point I put it in the fridge before I went to bed.

I would assume a crock pot keeps food at a safe temperature on the warming setting - because if it keeps it just below that, it would become a rapid breeding ground for bacteria - but I'm hoping someone can confirm this before I finish the leftovers and fall over and die.

Last edited by SenorBeef; 12-07-2014 at 09:14 AM.
#2
Old 12-07-2014, 09:32 AM
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I think that the only way to be sure would be to fill it with hot water, leave it long enough on 'warm' and then take the temperature.

I use mine regularly. I often make a stew and then leave the leftovers in overnight to cool down, before adding curry powder and putting it in the fridge. I have survived so far. Of course, I always make sure to simmer the curry for a while to kill off any nasties that may have been swimming around and multiplying.
#3
Old 12-07-2014, 10:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SenorBeef View Post
Cooked something with ground beef in a crock pot. Left it on the warm setting and forgot about it all day - ended up spending somewhere around 8-10 hours on warm (not low - there's high/low/warm), at which point I put it in the fridge before I went to bed.
For myself, no problem eating it. I'd probably not, say, bring it to the potluck at work.
Was there movement from light simmering when you came back to it?
Quote:
Originally Posted by bob++ View Post
I often make a stew and then leave the leftovers in overnight to cool down, before adding curry powder and putting it in the fridge.
I do this too, though with stovetop cookware. There's no way I'm putting ten pounds of mass at 200 degrees into the fridge.
#4
Old 12-07-2014, 11:44 AM
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For crock pots, the Low setting is designed to keep foods hot enough to pasteurize over time, I can't say what a particular Warm setting means though, but I would hope it would do the job for you.

Food safety experts recommend that food be rapidly cooled or moved to the refrigerator immediately instead of cooling at room temperature. If you put it in the refrigerator it will cool faster and spend less time in the danger zone where bacteria can reproduce rapidly.
#5
Old 12-07-2014, 02:29 PM
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I've cooked a (starting with raw) chicken dish on warm (not 'low') and no one got sick. It was actually the most awesome crockpot dish I even made, not over cooked flavorless falling apart mush, but really great flavor and texture like what we were promised crockpot cooking used to be like. IIRC the temp was what I would consider borderline safe, but with beef I wouldn't hesitate.
#6
Old 12-07-2014, 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
Food safety experts recommend that food be rapidly cooled or moved to the refrigerator immediately instead of cooling at room temperature. If you put it in the refrigerator it will cool faster and spend less time in the danger zone where bacteria can reproduce rapidly.
And just because this contradicts what I've always heard, where's a cite:

http://foodsafety.gov/keep/basics/mistakes/

Quote:
Mistake #5: Letting food cool before putting it in the fridge

Why: Illness-causing bacteria can grow in perishable foods within two hours unless you refrigerate them

Solution: Refrigerate perishable foods within 2 hours (or within 1 hour if the temperature is over 90˚F.
#7
Old 12-07-2014, 03:09 PM
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Every crockpot I've ever owned has operated as follows:

Keep Warm=Low
Low=High
High=Burn down house.

I don't know if I just buy the cheapies or if I'm doing something wrong.
#8
Old 12-07-2014, 03:44 PM
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The basic rule for holding temps are 135 degrees, if food is kept below that for more than 4 hours it should not be served. I would imagine that is on the conservative side.
#9
Old 12-07-2014, 03:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Turek View Post
And just because this contradicts what I've always heard, where's a cite:

http://foodsafety.gov/keep/basics/mistakes/
What's the contradiction?
#10
Old 12-07-2014, 05:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
What's the contradiction?
I believe his point was that you were right, but it's common to say otherwise (I know I've heard such, for instance), so he felt it was a good idea to post a cite to show you were.
#11
Old 12-07-2014, 06:38 PM
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you need to measure the actual temperature.

before putting in fridge, not wanting to leave out or to overtax fridge, you could split the pot contents into smaller containers spread apart to accelerate cooling. also you could set these into room temperature water.
#12
Old 12-07-2014, 07:31 PM
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I decanter into Tupperwares' with tops and let the heat vacuum seal it before fridge.

Cause' I know what I'm going to do with the stuff prior to creating it...usually.
#13
Old 12-07-2014, 09:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bob++ View Post
Of course, I always make sure to simmer the curry for a while to kill off any nasties that may have been swimming around and multiplying.
This isn't a real good idea.
Some of the nasties produce byproducts* as they grow, which are also nasty for human digestive systems. And while heat may kill the bacteria (often takes more than simmering, though), some of the byproducts are able to survive the heat and make you sick.

*bacteria poop, basically.
#14
Old 12-07-2014, 10:34 PM
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Nothing like a case of staph enterotoxin food poisoning to disabuse you from reheating questionable food. It's extremely heat resistant, and the dramatic effects are pretty damn quick.
(Most of the time, you'll never know the exact food which got you sick. Staph, you probably will.)
#15
Old 12-08-2014, 02:09 AM
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The FDA recommends a minimum temperature of 140F for keeping cooked foods warm. It should be easy to measure the temperature of the contents of your crock pot.

I seems likely that a "warm" setting on a crock pot will keep food hot enough to be safe. If it weren't designed to do this, the manufacturer would be selling a dangerous cooking device. I mean, the whole point of the "warm" setting is to keep cooked food warm, isn't it? If it didn't keep the temperature high enough to prevent food poisoning, the company would be exposing itself to significant liability.

Here's a quote from the Hamilton Beach web site:
Quote:
The keep warm setting can be used for up to 2 hours for some foods. Food safety is not affected, but quality of some types of food will continue to decrease the longer the food is “kept warm.” Foods like chili or spaghetti sauce will be fine.
From the Crock Pot Europe web site:
Quote:
Crock-Pot slow cookers are safe for countertop cooking for extended periods of time. If holding food on the Warm Setting for a long time, cut back on cook time accordingly to reduce overcooking.
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#16
Old 12-08-2014, 06:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
What's the contradiction?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kamino Neko View Post
I believe his point was that you were right, but it's common to say otherwise (I know I've heard such, for instance), so he felt it was a good idea to post a cite to show you were.
Yes, this. Sorry if I was vague.

I've heard from a lot of sources to let the food cool before putting in the refrigerator. When I read your statement, I questioned it and upon finding I was in fact incorrect, posted a cite to save others the trouble.
#17
Old 12-08-2014, 06:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Turek View Post
Yes, this. Sorry if I was vague.

I've heard from a lot of sources to let the food cool before putting in the refrigerator. When I read your statement, I questioned it and upon finding I was in fact incorrect, posted a cite to save others the trouble.
Let the food cool first is for the safety of the other food in the refrigerator, as the hot pot will warm the local area above the safe zone. It also decreases the efficiency. Additionally if it has glass shelves it may thermo-crack it.

In the winter it is common to put such foods outside to allow them to cool before putting them in the fridge.
#18
Old 12-08-2014, 07:25 AM
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Crockpot Food Has A Limited Cooking Time

Something you won't easily find about crockpot cooking is that there are limitations. It is something I discovered by constantly overcooking chicken and casserole. It has a nasty taste.

Traditional cooking on a coal range or stove involved the addition of ingredients interspersed by eating, over a period of days. Pioneers and poor people would have a stew or soup cooking for a week whilst serving up daily meals from the pot.

Unfortunately this doesn't work with a crockpot. I don't recall the explanation but essentially the food is torn apart by overcooking even on Low.

Live and learn.
#19
Old 12-09-2014, 10:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kanicbird View Post
In the winter it is common to put such foods outside to allow them to cool before putting them in the fridge.
In places without bears and raccoons, I take it. Here, they'd take it.
#20
Old 12-09-2014, 10:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
Food safety experts recommend that food be rapidly cooled or moved to the refrigerator immediately instead of cooling at room temperature. If you put it in the refrigerator it will cool faster and spend less time in the danger zone where bacteria can reproduce rapidly.
If you put it in the fridge immediately after cooking, your fridge is going to have to work very hard to pump all that heat out. Why not let it cool to safety-threshold temperature first?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Turek View Post
And just because this contradicts what I've always heard, where's a cite:

http://foodsafety.gov/keep/basics/mistakes/
Ah. That says, within two hours. Quite a long ways from immediately.

Last edited by Peremensoe; 12-09-2014 at 11:00 AM.
#21
Old 12-09-2014, 11:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jnglmassiv View Post
For myself, no problem eating it. I'd probably not, say, bring it to the potluck at work.
I'd bring it to work, but then I'd mention to a few people that the dip Jenny brought tasted a bit off to me, just in case.
#22
Old 12-09-2014, 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by elfkin477 View Post
In places without bears and raccoons, I take it. Here, they'd take it.
Bears become inactive in the winter, never had a raccoon problem, but they do live around here. Again perhaps a winter only thing.
#23
Old 12-10-2014, 09:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peremensoe View Post
If you put it in the fridge immediately after cooking, your fridge is going to have to work very hard to pump all that heat out. Why not let it cool to safety-threshold temperature first?

Ah. That says, within two hours. Quite a long ways from immediately.
There is no simple rule to follow. The cite provided is only giving some simple fairly safe steps for typical home cooking situations. However, those guidelines would get citations from inspectors in institutional situations. If you want to keep food safe you have to keep it out of the danger zone between 40F and pasteurization temperature. Pasteurization temperature ranges based on holding time, starting at approximately 130F, and at about 165F the holding time drops to 0. There are variances for specific foods and holding times. It is very difficult to accurately measure these temperatures in most home cooking situations, so error on the side of safety is recommended. Between 40F and the safe cooking temperature you need to cool the food as rapidly as possible for maximum safety.

Realistically, letting properly cooked food cool for 2 hours in typical household cooking is fine. Starting from a high enough temperature the time to cool into the danger zone and the time it takes for bacteria to multiply gives you a lot of leeway.

The study I saw on the subject discounted the effect of warming other foods by putting hot foods in the refrigerator immediately. Obviously it will require more energy consumption, but the affect on other foods in the refrigerator already below 40F was negligible. But I generally don't do that at home, it's not necessary.

Last edited by TriPolar; 12-10-2014 at 10:00 PM.
#24
Old 12-11-2014, 08:46 AM
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As mentioned, the only way to know for sure is to take the temp of food or water in your crockpot on the warm setting after it's been in there long enough to stabilize. Having said that, I can't imagine the warm setting is below 140 degrees. The "warm" or "hold" setting on most ovens is about 170 degrees or so.
#25
Old 12-11-2014, 09:16 AM
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Both my grandmother and I have gone so far as to eat chili, burgers, and chicken that has sat out at room temperature for over 4 hours (sometimes as many as 12 hours), and we ain't keeled over yet. Neither have we gotten food poisoning from such. And she's almost 90.

I've eaten beef-n-pepperoni pizza that sat out at room temp for 20 hours.

Your food on the Warm setting of a crock pot should be just fine. At the worst, you'll probably just get the runs.
#26
Old 12-11-2014, 06:55 PM
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a food like pizza, which starts with somewhat dry stuff, then is baked to crispness, has a different danger factor compared to a broth.
#27
Old 10-17-2016, 01:15 AM
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That time I underestimated the crock pot

Hi Senor Beef,

I too have left a chunk of beef on the "Keep Warm" function for about 15 hours now. Important to note I never actually turned it to the low or high function. Im hoping to come home to a delicious shredded beef delight although I am also prepared for a 800g grams of slightly greyed meat in a broth of "warm" garlic juice.

Good luck with you're endeavours
#28
Old 10-17-2016, 05:11 AM
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After two years, I suspect all it will be is some carbon-like deposits on the bottom and sides of the pot.
#29
Old 10-17-2016, 07:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken001 View Post
...

Traditional cooking on a coal range or stove involved the addition of ingredients interspersed by eating, over a period of days. Pioneers and poor people would have a stew or soup cooking for a week whilst serving up daily meals from the pot.

Unfortunately this doesn't work with a crockpot. I don't recall the explanation but essentially the food is torn apart by overcooking even on Low.

Live and learn.
Long dead thread, but I don't believe the pot was left to cook continuously, but heated for meals and left to cool till next time. Continuously cooking would result in a buildup in burnt food on the bottom.

I have cooked in such a manner, where you cook something and then leave the rest in the pot till next time, over and over. And yes I just left in on the stovetop without heating it in between meals. I also have to add that over time the flavors are incredible I may have done that for weeks but IDK as there are times when you know you have to start over.

Those times would be when the liquid boils off and it starts burning, it sat too long without reheating (for me this would be about at the 2 day mark but that depends), or you cook something that creates an off flavor - this is a food flavor clash, not a gone bad taste. The starting over times usually tastes very bland and disappointing.
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