How Long Can Cooked Meat Safely Remain Out of the Refrigerator?

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), cooked meat becomes unsafe to eat after 2 hours at room temperature. To keep food safe to eat, it is recommended that you either eat, freeze or refrigerate the food before 2 hours have passed.

Restaurant cooks know that cooked foods must be held at a temperature higher than 140 degrees Fahrenheit or colder than 40 degrees to keep them safe to eat. If a cooked meat has been left out to cool, it should be reheated to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees to kill any bacteria that may have had a chance to form.

To refrigerate cooked meat, place it in a covered shallow container and refrigerate within 2 hours.