How Long Can You Leave Potato Salad Out?

Food safety is essential for a safe barbecue.

<p>Qi Ai/Allrecipes</p>

Qi Ai/Allrecipes

If you’re from the South like I am, you know that no barbecue is complete without potato salad. But, if you don’t take proper food safety precautions, you put your friends and family at risk for food poisoning. If potato salad sits out too long at dangerous temperatures, it can become a hotbed for bugs and bacteria to grow.

The Food and Drug Administration recommends that food be out of the “Danger Zone” which means between “40 degrees F and 140 degrees F for more than 2 hours, or 1 hour if outdoor temperatures are above 90 degrees F.” In the danger zone, bacteria can multiply rapidly on food which can lead to spoilage and foodborne illness.

And while many people may immediately think that the mayonnaise in potato salad is the culprit for rapid bacterial growth—therefore no-mayonnaise salads are safer outside— it actually isn’t the main element of concern. It’s actually the potatoes themselves. Potatoes, like rice, are a low-acid food which means that they can quickly become a hotspot for the growth of bacteria. This means that potato salad that is made without mayonnaise is not exempt.

How Long Can Potato Salad Sit Out?

With the FDA guidelines in mind, potato salad cannot generally sit out for more than two hours and more than one hour if left in temperatures above 90 degrees F.

As a good guideline to keep your potluck items safe to consume, it’s a smart idea to store (and ideally serve) cold foods cold (and hot food hot) at your picnic to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. This means that if you have cold dishes like potato and chicken salad, you should keep them in coolers until right before you are about to serve them.

How Long Does Potato Salad Last In the Fridge?

According to the USDA, egg and mayonnaise-based potato salad can last in the refrigerator for three to four days if refrigerated right away. However, if you are making a German-style potato salad, it can last up to five days if it is stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

As fun as outdoor gatherings are over the summer, it’s vital to keep your guests safe during potlucks and barbecues. If you are unsure how to properly serve a dish or have additional questions about food safety, you can reach out to the USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline to speak with a food safety specialist: 1-888-674-6854 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. EST.

Read the original article on All Recipes.