Another 'is this safe to eat' thread

Sandwich - wheat bread and pimento cheese spread, sitting in a baggie on my desk for the last 24 hours at room temperature… safe to eat?

It’s a spread, so it’s fairly wet. I wouldn’t.

Cheddar Cheese (Pasteurized Cultured Milk, Salt, Enzymes), Water, Soybean Oil, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Pimientos, Red Bell Peppers, Distilled Vinegar, Skim Milk, Less Than 2% of: Modified Corn Starch, Egg Yolk, Cream, Whey, Salt, Skim Milk, Sodium Citrate, Milk Protein Concentrate, Corn Syrup, Sodium Phosphates, …

Nothing strikes me as out & out dangerous, but I wouldn’t eat it. Unless on a lifeboat or something.

Sorry, I was paddling… what did you say?

Yeah, that’s what I thought. It’s just sitting there tempting me.

The egg yolk is the only ingredient I’d worry about. Dairy products will, at worst, curdle and be sour (but not unsafe). Depends on how hungry you are.

When in doubt, throw it out. It’s not worth getting sick over.

Pimiento Cheese spread is a processed food product, which means that the water activity has been stabilized with either salt (because it is cheap) or sugar, or a combination of the two. The spread will probably last a long time unrefridgerated but since it has been spread on wheat bread that control of the water activity is now lost. I wouldn’t eat it. Gambling with food poisoning isn’t real fun.

Briefly, water activity is a measure of how available the water is to microbial growth. Salt and sugars are used to tie up the available water so the microbes can’t use it. The moisture is still there but not availible. Things that seem to still have moisture but don’t readily spoil have had the water activity tied up with salt, sugar or something else. Beef jerky, cheese, other things you see on the shelf that you think should spoil but don’t.

This is also why when you see a “low sodium” processed food it is probably loaded with sugar instead of salt.

Salt’s Role in the Prevention of Microbial Growth

Salt is effective as a preservative because it reduces the water activity of foods. The water activity of a food is the amount of unbound water available for microbial growth and chemical reactions. Salt’s ability to decrease water activity is thought to be due to the ability of sodium and chloride ions to associate with water molecules (Fennema, 1996; Potter and Hotchkiss, 1995).

Preservation and Physical Property Roles of Sodium in Foods - Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake in the United States - NCBI Bookshelf (

I’d rather eat Johnson, sir!

Cream is a pretty common vector for food poisoning; wet, neutral, containing sugar and proteins. Salmonella and clostridium will love that.

Admittedly cream is a minor ingredient in that thing, but it’s a moist sandwich at room temp for 24 hours. Acidity of the ingredients is pretty much the only potential saviour of this sandwich, and I would not rely on it.

I mean, honestly, these threads are like ‘is this a scam?’ threads.

If you’re asking, it’s a scam. If you’re asking is it safe to eat, it’s not.

I disagree. Going from my (probably) faulty memory, I seem to remember threads where the consensus was the food in question was safe to eat., Regardless, they frequently spark interesting side conversations with links like Dallas_Jones’ above.

I guess you have to come up with a more controversial hypothetical. There seems to be a consensus that a 24-hour sandwich is best left uneaten.

I was responding to Mangetout’s proposal that these types of threads always end up as ‘not safe’ to eat (as the ‘is this a scam’ threads do). I was saying I remember several threads where that was not the case.

The post you were responding to had nothing to do with this sandwich.

I’d eat it.

Sure, the consensus in these sorts of threads is very often ‘if it smells OK, it’s OK’, but that’s simply untrue (or else food poisoning would be nonexistent. The things that make you sick are not the exact same set of things as the things that make food smell bad). I’m not really talking about the consensus. I believe the consensus view on this is often wrong.

My all-time greatest food-related barf-fest* was caused by a packaged cracker-and-soft-cheese combo which apparently had been unrefrigerated for longer than recommended. Or maybe it was contaminated before it ever got to the sale counter. Regardless, I paid the price.

*come to think of it, not nearly as bad as the restaurant-induced norovirus episode.

Again, I disagree. I think you’ve mischaracterized those threads BUT I admit I might be misremembering and it’s not a hill I care to die on.

However, I do disagree with your implied premise that any is-this-safe-to-eat thread shouldn’t be posted in the first place because, if you have to ask, it isn’t. That’s simply not true.

Confusing username-post combination

Yeah, same. I’d have to think a lot longer if it was on the desk for two days, though. :sweat_smile: