One Pot Dish Recipe

How To Know If Hummus That Was Left Out is Still Safe to Eat

How long can hummus be left out of the fridge and still be good to eat?

How long can you leave hummus unrefrigerated?
Can hummus get bad?
What does bad hummus look like?
Does hummus go bad if it's not refrigerated?
Can you eat hummus one day out of date?
These are just a few of the typical questions that people ask about hummus. As you know, a container of hummus has become a staple food since it is very versatile and packed with nutritious ingredients such as chickpea paste, tahini, and soybean oil (some people have started using olive oil for hummus and tahini). There will never be a guilty feeling even when you devour this food.

Hummus is best for people who exercise, who are on a strict diet, and those who want to have a healthier lifestyle.

In this article, we will cover every question you have about hummus, including its shelf life. Know that there are several kinds of hummus, including homemade hummus and several ways of making it often with canned chickpeas and lemon juice.

With that, these guidelines written below are not applicable for everyone, hence you should know if your hummus can cause upset stomach?

What are the different kinds of hummus?

As mentioned above, hummus can be made with a different recipe and with different ingredients depending on what's available in the kitchen. Thus giving many different but similar flavor. (great for a snack) Some include preservatives for longer shelf life, some don't have. But usually, there are three common types of hummus sold in the market:

  • commercialized pasteurized hummus (often contains preservative)
  • homemade hummus
  • traditional hummus
garlic humus
Also, the commercialized pasteurized hummus (store-bought hummus) tends to last longer than the other types. Meaning, it can be left out in a well-ventilated and cool area since it usually has preservatives. 

Depending on the temperature it can last as unrefrigerated hummus for 4 to 6 hours. One way to check is to smell your humus when it is fresh and then later if you think it is spoiled hummus you can smell it again and see if there is a difference. 

It is my advice to always be cautious -  for the sake of a few dollars it is better to discard it rather than get food poisoning.  

In hot and humid conditions, this type of hummus may only last for up to 2 hours. So keep it in food storage - refrigerated hummus until just before you need it.

On the other hand, homemade hummus is almost always best. Usually, it is made with fresh, natural ingredients and with no preservatives. It will taste great you can add more sesame seeds, garbanzo bean or whatever you like to make it special - try not to used dried chick peas - use fresh if you can.

Plus this is just great on pita bread. You can add a little lemon juice as a natural preservative but this will not last as long as a packaged hummus which will have more chemicals in it. Always store in an airtight container in the fridge.
natural humus
Lastly, traditional hummus can be classified as the most authentic type of homemade hummus. This usually has little to no preservatives compared to the grocery store one.

Expect that this kind of hummus can last out of the fridge for about 4 hours or less at a warmer temperature. So be careful. 

They are more fragile from a food safety perspective as they contain ingredient like mushroom, cooked chickpeas, beans, peanut butter, often less carbs, garlic. We will also publish later a hummus recipe. My favorite is roasted red pepper hummus, made in a food processor.

I also try to stay away from canned hummus as it will be the most processed and almost certainly made with dried chickpeas and maybe baking soda.

What Is The Danger Zone Of Hummus?

Cross-contamination is one of the common dangers of hummus. This is the transfer and movement of harmful bacteria from a person or object to the hummus. Molds, toxins, and contaminants are the common pathogens found in hummus.

According to the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Safety Inspection Service, temperatures between 40°-140° F are the perfect conditions for the rapid growth of bacteria. Meaning, a container of hummus should be kept at the right temperature and stored in a refrigerator, or keep it hot if it is going to be served over a long period of time to prevent the growth of bacteria.

Commercially made and pasteurized hummus can be safe for 4 hours in a clean environment at a moderately cool temperature. Just make sure that it doesn't go beyond 90° F or above since the higher the temperature the more chances of bacterial growth according to the USDA.

But how do bacteria get into the hummus? The experts say that there are thousands of bacteria present in our environment. The most common bacteria are the pathogens, which are microorganisms that cause disease. When certain pathogens get into the hummus, they can cause food-borne infection symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and more. Infants, children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with weak immune systems are the most vulnerable from this. But not all bacteria cause disease and they may be used beneficially. especially in yogurt and cheese.

"Keep cold food cold and hot food hot." That is the ultimate secret given by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. Moreover, here are the further tips from the said food handling experts:

  • When reheating cooked food, reheat to 165 °F.
  • Store food in the refrigerator (40 °F or below) or freezer.
  • Cook food to a safe minimum internal temperature.
  • Maintain hot cooked food at 140 °F or above.

However, foods like hummus, as mentioned above, are made in different ways. The FDA and USDA have a slight difference in handling this food. The USDA reasons out that the standard of 2 hours for any food that is going to be out of the fridge should be refrigerated immediately. This applies to all foods, especially raw meat, pasteurized, and even cooked food. On the other hand, the FDA has concluded that hummus will be safe for about 4 hours after it has been pulled out of the refrigerator.

The important thing here is if you know that there are many people dipping into it and that creates a cross contamination risk - nobody likes double dipping!

Traditional Hummus
Traditional Hummus

What Do We Do About The Bacteria In Hummus?

Though tiny as they are, microorganisms affect our health more than we know. Luckily, experts have been studying how these tiny living things work in our bodies. Also, there have been studies and research about how to deal with these, especially when it contaminates our food.

Here are the tips suggested by the USDA to follow about what to do with bacteria in hummus:

1. Preserve the evidence.

If a portion of the suspect food is available, wrap it securely, mark "DANGER" and freeze it. Save all the packaging materials, such as cans or cartons. Write down the food type, the date, other identifying marks on the package, the time consumed, and when the onset of symptoms occurred. Save any identical unopened products. If you need to report it - you have the evidence.

2. Seek treatment as necessary.

If the victim is in an "at-risk" group, seek medical care immediately. Likewise, if symptoms persist or are severe (such as bloody diarrhea, excessive nausea, and vomiting, or high temperature), call your doctor.

3. Call the local health department.

If the suspect food was served at a large gathering, from a restaurant or other food service facility, or if it is a commercial product.

4. Call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline.

Call them at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) if the suspect food is a USDA-inspected product and you have all the packaging.

Moreover, the importance of cleanliness in your surrounding is an important thing to follow. Serving spoons, tables, kitchen counters, and your hands should be cleaned at all times. A clean environment will stop the production and contamination of new microorganisms to your hummus.

Once the hummus is cooked, it should be kept hot at a minimum temperature of 140 °F or above. Again, keeping the food warm between 40 and 140 °F is not safe at all. To best maintain the temperature, you can use a slow cooker, chafing dishes, preheated warming trays, or preheated oven.

But if you want to keep it cold, your hummus should be kept at a temperature of 40 °F or below. Consume it within two hours after purchase and refrigerate it within an hour.

Is It Ok To Eat Out-of-date (Expired) Hummus?

Signs -  if your hummus should not be eaten anymore: molds.

Otherwise, store-bought hummus or the commercial hummus, if stored properly in an airtight container, can last up to 10 days past the production date or the "best if used by" date. On the other hand, the homemade and traditional versions can be eaten within three to five days of production.

The presence of molds is the worst sign that you should avoid eating your hummus. Other than that, if you can already smell something bad from it, then it should be discarded. Before dipping into your hummus, it would be best if you smell it first. Hummus that is expired or out-of-date smells sour and tastes sour.

What Does Fresh Hummus Smell Like?

Fresh hummus normally has no real smell unless it has been seasoned with seasoning and other preservatives like garlic and lemon.

What Does Bad Hummus Look Like?

After smelling sour, a bad hummus will eventually develop mold. We bet you already know what a mold looks like, right?

Hummus Mold
Hummus Mold

If your hummus is not homemade, it is possible that it has been added with preservatives to keep the shelf life long beyond the recommended consumption of 5 days. However, most hummus product gets mold within a couple of days after being opened and taken out of the refrigerator.

So do not eat hummus that is over 2 hours at room temperature is the safe advice.

If in doubt you can always probe with a thermometer to see internal temperature - or use an infra red thermometer to see the surface temperature.

If Hummus Is Left In A Car For A Few Hours, Is It Still Good To Eat?

It depends. If the car is not in a cold environment (remember a temperature of 40 °F or below is safe for food), the hummus will most likely start to go off.

If it is winder and negative degrees then the car will be ok and your hummus will last longer.

However, the further the car's interior temperature is above these refrigeration-type temperatures, the more cautious you should be. You can eat it after an hour or two if the hummus is commercially prepared and properly sealed. It's not much different than eating it at a picnic. And it is even safer to consume it if no one is dipping their saliva-contaminated veggies into the bowl.

Can I Freeze Hummus?

Yes you can - creating a hummus freeze is fine - just allow it to thaw naturally.

Can you freeze hummus homemade? - even better - yes - just freeze it before it gets warm.

What Happens If You Eat A Lot Of Hummus?

Hummus is often associated with weight loss. Know that a cup of hummus has almost 15 grams of fiber, which is 59% of the recommended daily consumption of an adult. It is also a great source of protein (7.9 grams), especially when paired with green veggies. Of course, eating too much of anything, whether healthy or unhealthy food, can always lead to something bad.

Losing weight and maintaining an ideal weight are a few of the benefits you can get when you eat hummus on a regular basis. Some studies have shown that a higher intake of legumes like chickpeas lowers body weight and improved satiety. The plant-based protein and high levels of fiber may help reduce your calorie intake, which promotes weight loss.

I love hummus for lunch with vegetables and pita bread

Is it ok to eat out of date hummus?

This is a trick question - If it has been stored in the fridge safely all the time - it is probably safe from bacteria as they grow very slowly in fridge. - but the food manufacturer puts a best before date for a reason - the food itself may start to break down and not tase any good.

Best advice is if it is significantly out of date is to discard it - if you are at all unsure - discard it.

How long can you leave hummus unrefrigerated?

The Food Safety advice is 2 hours only

Anyone ever left hummus out overnight, still ate it, and lived to tell the tale? - Strong advice is to discard it!

Is Hummus Vegetarian

Yes, it is - just check the ingredients when you buy to be sure. See our Turmeric Vegetarian Rice Recipe - it goes great with pita bread and hummus.

Takeaway (Health Disclaimer)

Consulting a health professional when making decisions on food safety should always be a top priority. Products that are FDA- or USDA-approved are always a better idea when purchasing one.

Note that all the information written in this article is only a preview for learning about the safety of hummus. We suggest that you do further research about the product you are consuming and learn how to specifically store and keep it since results can vary for different people and different products.

It is best that you follow precautions and guidelines made by the professionals (see above)

Enjoy healthy food and take advice if you are unsure - or better yet - Chuck it!.