How Long Can Lunch Meat Stay Out?

Foods requiring refrigeration, including lunch meat, should not be kept at room temperature for more than two hours. Temperatures higher than 40 degrees Fahrenheit allow bacteria to grow at a much faster rate.

Luncheon and deli meats should not be kept longer than the use-by date even if refrigerated properly, as they may provide pathways for infection by listeria bacteria. People who are at high risk for infection, such as pregnant women, older people or those with weakened immune systems, should not eat luncheon or deli meats at all unless they have been heated to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.