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Safely Holding onto Buffalo Chicken Wings

How long can Buffalo Chicken Wings stay out without refrigeration?

No-one fell into a football-induced stupor, did they?, leaving those chicken wings out, how long?, overnight, perhaps? Tsk-tsk.

The standard in the food industry is that potentially harmful bacterial can grow to high enough numbers to present a serious risk within four hours under ideal conditions (ideal for the bacteria, that is). That includes the total time the food is between 40F (5C) and 140F (60C). It also assumes the food was handled and cooked properly before being set out and starting the 4-hour countdown.

The United States Department of Agriculture apparently thinks you are half as smart as the food industry or half as likely to handle and cook food properly, because it allows you to have food out for only two hours, and, if the temperature out is 90F (32C) or above, then only for one hour (which means, apparently, that you become one-quarter as smart as the food industry when the temperature rises).

In the case of chicken wings, we would probably feel comfortable going something beyond two hours if we were going to put the leftovers in the refrigerator. The closer it got to four hours in the open, though, the likelier we would be to pitch any leftovers in the trash.

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