How Long Can Uncooked Turkey Bacon Sit Out? Everything You Need To Know

Turkey bacon has become a popular alternative to regular pork bacon. It often boasts less fat and fewer calories while still delivering on that signature bacon taste. But because it is still raw meat, precautions need to be taken when storing turkey bacon to prevent bacterial growth. So how long can you leave uncooked turkey bacon out before it goes bad?

As a general food safety rule, raw meats like turkey bacon should not sit out at room temperature for more than 2 hours. The danger zone for bacterial growth is between 40°F and 140°F. Leaving foods in this temperature range allows bacteria like salmonella to rapidly multiply to dangerous levels. While the curing process used for bacon helps inhibit bacterial growth, it does not make the meat completely safe when left out for extended periods of time.

To understand why 2 hours is the recommended max time for leaving turkey bacon out, let’s take a closer look at how bacteria grows and some real experiences from people who ate questionable turkey bacon

Bacterial Growth Happens Fast

Bacteria grows exponentially when conditions are right. According to food safety recommendations from the USDA, bacteria can double in number every 20 minutes. That means a single bacteria could multiply to thousands or even millions in just a few hours.

Some types of dangerous bacteria that can grow on turkey bacon left out include

  • Salmonella: Common on poultry, causes diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps
  • Listeria: Causes fever, muscle aches, nausea
  • E. coli: Causes severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting
  • Staphylococcus aureus: Causes nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea

So while the cured turkey bacon you pulled from the fridge may have been safe, leaving it out for over 2 hours creates an opportunity for bacteria to grow to unsafe levels.

Toxins Persist Even After Cooking

Another important risk factor is that the toxins produced by bacteria can persist even after the turkey bacon is cooked. So even if the bacteria is killed during cooking, those left over toxins can still make you sick.

As one commenter explained about bacon:

Cooking may kill bacteria, but it doesn’t kill the chemical toxins that they’ve produced. And its the toxins that make you sick.

So it’s not enough to just “cook it really well.” The bacteria could have already produced enough toxins while the turkey bacon was left out to make you sick.

Real Experiences with Spoiled Turkey Bacon

To understand why it’s so important to not leave turkey bacon out too long, let’s look at some real life examples.

On MetaFilter, a user asked if turkey bacon left out on the counter for 12 hours would still be safe to eat. The bacon was left in a covered Tupperware container overnight, about 10 hours longer than the recommended 2 hour window.

The responses overwhelmingly recommended playing it safe and discarding the turkey bacon:

  • “12 hours is plenty of time to make food toxic (exponential growth is magical/terrifying)”
  • “I am pretty cavalier about this stuff but I wouldn’t eat any kind of meat that had been unrefrigerated in a raw state for twelve hours.”
  • “Ugh, please throw this away!”

The turkey bacon in this case was clearly not stored safely based on USDA guidelines. Leaving it out at room temperature for 12 hours could have allowed bacteria to multiply and release toxins.

On Simply Recipes, one commenter told the cautionary tale of eating bacon left out overnight:

Once, only once when I was young and reckless, I left a pack of bacon out on the counter overnight. I figured since it was cured it would be okay. I was so, so wrong. I cooked it up the next morning and me and my roomie had BLTs for lunch. We both were sicker than dogs that night. Vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, the whole nine yards…So in my experience no it is NOT safe to eat bacon that’s been left out overnight!!

Again, leaving bacon out for over 8 hours allowed bacteria to grow exponentially. And even though they cooked the bacon, the toxins produced by the bacteria overnight made them sick. While this person left regular bacon out, the same risks apply to turkey bacon.

How to Safely Store Uncooked Turkey Bacon

To avoid getting sick from spoiled meat, proper storage is key. Here are some tips for keeping your turkey bacon safe and fresh:

  • Store in fridge for max 7 days: Keep turkey bacon sealed in original packaging until ready to use. Once opened, use within 7 days. Discard if smell or color seems off.
  • Freeze for 4 months: For longer storage, wrap tightly and freeze for up to 4 months. Thaw overnight in fridge before using.
  • Use opened packages within 7 days: Bacon can be frozen and thawed only once. Use frozen and thawed bacon within 7 days.
  • Don’t leave out over 2 hours: Never leave turkey bacon out for over 2 hours, or 1 hour if room temp over 90°F. Toss if left out too long.
  • Cook thoroughly before eating: Always cook turkey bacon thoroughly until crispy to kill any bacteria present. But don’t rely on cooking alone to make spoiled bacon safe.

Following these storage guidelines and using your freezer to extend the shelf life is the best way to enjoy turkey bacon safely.

Knowing When Turkey Bacon Has Spoiled

If you’re unsure how long your turkey bacon has been sitting in the fridge or out on the counter, there are a few signs you can watch for to know if it is spoiled and needs to be discarded:

  • Change in color: Mold, graying, or unnatural colors like green or blue are signs of spoilage. Good turkey bacon is pink.
  • Slimy texture: Turkey bacon should feel smooth and dry to the touch. Any sliminess could indicate bacteria growth.
  • Sour smell: Spoiled turkey bacon gives off a rancid odor. Trust your nose if something smells off.
  • Past expiration date: Discard turkey bacon 1 week after the sell-by date printed on the package.

When inspecting the bacon, look at both the ends and interior sections. Bacteria can grow in small pockets and may not affect the entire surface. If you see any of the above signs or the turkey bacon is past its date, play it safe and discard it.

The Bottom Line

While cured meats like turkey bacon may last a bit longer than raw beef or chicken, leaving them out at room temperature for too long can still allow dangerous bacteria to grow to hazardous levels. Follow the 2 hour rule, Never leave turkey bacon out for more than 2 hours, and ideally discard it after 1 hour if the room is over 90°F.

Of course, your best bet is to not let your turkey bacon linger out at all and promptly store it in the fridge or freezer until you’re ready to cook it. But if does get left out accidentally, check how long it may have been sitting there. If it’s more than 2 hours, the safest option is to discard it. Getting a new pack of turkey bacon is much better than getting food poisoning!

How Long Can You Leave Food Out?


How long can uncooked turkey bacon stay out?

The general rule of food safety is to not let raw meat or cooked food sit out for more than 2 hours, and that rule applies to uncooked or cooked bacon.

How to know if turkey bacon has gone bad?

Bad odor: If the turkey bacon has a strong, unpleasant smell, it may be spoiled. Slimy texture: If the bacon feels slimy or sticky, it is a sign of spoilage. Greenish hue: If the bacon has a greenish tint, it has gone bad. Rotten smell: If the bacon emits a rotten or sour smell, it is no longer safe to consume.

How long does cured bacon last without refrigeration?

The USDA recommends using dry-cured sliced bacon within ten days when unrefrigerated, and within four weeks if you keep it in the refrigerated. If the dry-cured bacon comes in a slab—the kind you slice yourself—it can last up to three weeks without the fridge, and four to six weeks in the fridge.

Does turkey bacon need to be cooked?

This really depends on the brand, but most national brands of turkey bacon are smoked or cured, but NOT cooked, so you will need to cook the turkey bacon before you eat it. Unless the package specifically says that the turkey bacon is fully cooked and ready to eat, you should cook it.

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