Can you eat leftover McDonald's?
According to the FDA, the recommended hours for food left unrefrigerated is 2 hours. It should be consumed after 2 hours of sitting at room temperature. The hotter the room or climate the faster bacteria will grow. However, some foods that are lower in moisture content (bacteria need moisture to grow) and do not contain highly perishable ingredients like eggs and milk may last overnight. We also have an article on storing butter outside of the fridge - a great chart and the science behind it.
Meaning, a Big Mac is probably ok to be eaten when left out overnight but should be checked carefully first. I would most likely heat the meat patty or the whole burger in a toaster oven, fryer especially if the room temp has been high.
Let's say you wake up really hungry and have the impression that it may be safe to eat. After all it's looking fine but that does not mean it is safe to eat at all. It is one of those potentially hazardous foods.
In general, a Big Mac can sit out overnight and be eaten - be careful of the soft cheeses as they can sometimes grow harmful bacteria. Also, make sure it was left in a clean area where it is properly covered.
Of course, if it is 100% properly cooked, then it is safe to eat the next day.
While it may still be edible the next day, the taste will surely not be as good as a fresh one. A burger that is left in the fridge inside is much safer as the ambient temperature is in the FDA safe zone fridge.
So Can you eat leftover McDonald's? - Maybe - it depends on how long it has been left out - I advise using a microwave and having hot food is much safer, and you can always brush a little butter to bring moisture and taste back to the burger.
Clean, separate, cook, and chill - these are the USDA Food Safety Guidelines that you are ought to follow if you do not want to intake mold or funky smells from your Big Mac.
The bacterial growth from food left out overnight is the primary cause of sickness, particularly upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea. These are a few symptoms of food poisoning that can range from mild to intense pain in the body that can lead to harmful experiences.
Now, we will discuss the details of these guidelines that you can easily follow to protect yourself or the customers from danger. Moreover, if you are into food handling, you probably know at least a few of these:
Wash hands and surfaces as regularly as possible. Along with it should be sanitized with disinfectants to make sure that the area for food is free from bacteria, viruses, and germs. Also, the container where you place your Big Mac should also be clean. Is it placed in a closed box? Wrapped in aluminum foil Is it on a plate where contaminants can freely dig in? Is the counter, fridge, or oven where you store your food clean enough to not contaminate it? These are the questions that you need to consider.
Is your Big Mac separated from other oily or moist food? It is important to place it separately from other food to prevent cross-contamination since they probably have a shorter shelf life, hence your burger might also accumulate mold that can lead to food poisoning.
If your Big Mac is left out overnight, better reheat it in the oven or microwave to get rid of the bacterial hazard. Its food temperature should hit at least 167°F to kill most bacteria and viruses. The USDA specifies that food within the range of 40-140°F is likely to be in the danger zone where most foodborne bacteria are developed.
If not consumed after a meal, refrigerate it immediately and make sure the temperature is within 40°F or below and the freezer at 0°F or below. It should be wrapped or contained securely to maintain its taste or quality and prevent cross-contamination.
For safety reasons, you can only keep your Big Mac in the fridge for at least 4 days. A good idea is to roll the Macdonalds cover up in aluminum foil. More than that, expect it to be a bit spoiled. However, the preservatives in the recipe for this food enable it to last further, especially when kept in a freezer. Let us take a look at how that affects the stability of the food.
Generally, Big Macs are made with a lot of fat and salt. Well, it is common knowledge to everyone that fast-food chains, like McDonald's, have mixed colorings and preservatives to their food to make it last for several days and longer after being left out.
First, the moisture content of burgers will greatly affect the accumulation of mold. Burgers like Big Macs have very low moisture content and that keeps the bacteria from flourishing, especially when it is stored securely at a recommended safe temperature level and kept from the air.
A perfect way to keep your Big Mac for a long time is to place it inside a sealable bag in the fridge or freezer. Through that, it will remove the exposure of air and pull the bacteria out from the "danger temperature".
Moreover, its ingredients also play a big role in making it last longer than other burgers. Its patty or meat is usually cooked in a griddle, thus making it lose a lot of moisture during the process. Also, the salt mixture will add to its preservation.
The cheese used in Big Mac is usually American cheese (which is better than shredded cheese), which is highly processed and pasteurized. It results in longer shelf life and may not have as much as active enzymes as other kinds of cheese do. Nevertheless, if you notice the discoloration of color, you should not eat it.
The usual sauce toppings of a Big Mac are sauce, mayo, and mustard. These sauces can be left out for a long time at the usual room temperature if stored very well.
Lastly, the bread or buns that are used are usually dehydrated or dry.
so you can see there are a lot of things in favor of being able to eat a big mac that has been left out overnight- but remember to be cautious.
Changes in color, smell, and texture are the basic indicators of spoiled or rotten food. Let's get into details.
If you have noticed that the beef has turned gray, the lettuce goes from green to brown or the tomatoes become brown and have sunken areas, then you should definitely dump it in the trash.
If the colors of your Big Mac are very different to when it was first served, then it is probably unsafe to eat already. This is because of the accumulation of bacteria, such as Salmonella and E. coli, that causes food discoloration and are not safe at all.
Food, especially from fast-food chains, has preservatives in the ingredients that may not directly affect the color when spoiled, hence it is better to smell it. If the smell seems to be sour or not appetizing as it was, dump it.
If your Big Mac feels slimy, watery, or any other drastic changes in texture, then it is likely spoiled and may cause bacterial illness - dump it.
The best thing to reduce food waste and prevent food poisoning is to consume your food in the safe time zone of 2 hours, especially if it is perishable food.
A Big Mac sauce, when stored in an air-tight and recommended room temperature, can last for a week. But, expect its taste to be different, especially when not refrigerated and exposed directly to sunlight. Even those free ketchup packets that you get from the store can not last too long.