How many hours is a bento really safe at room temperature?

Notorious A.M.D.
Bento-ing from: Frederick › Maryland › USA
Joined: 27 Jul 2009
User offline. Last seen 4 years 51 weeks ago.

Hello!
I'm really new at making bentos, and the thought of leaving my bento out of a refrigerator makes me a bit nervous, and I wanted to ask your thoughts.
You see, I have to leave my house very early in the morning (around 5:50 am) to get to work on time during the summer, and I typically don't eat lunch until 12:00. I'm worried that leaving my bento out of the refrigerator for 6+ hours would be unsafe, but the thought of eating ice-cold rice from the fridge isn't exactly appetizing to me either! :\
I know I could pack my bento in a microwave-safe container and nuke it, but I much prefer my food at room temperature anyway. Could I maybe leave my bento in the fridge until an hour or so before I'm ready to eat it? Or do you think rice/cooked chicken or fish/etc. would be safe at room temperature for that long?

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maki
admin
Bento-ing from: somewhere › France
Joined: 24 Jan 2007
User offline. Last seen 2 weeks 4 days ago.
Re: How many hours is a bento really safe at room ...

Hi Notorious. It really depends on how you prepare and pack your bento, and what you put into it. If you stick to the safety guidelines here (also see summer bento safety) keeping your bento for 6 hours should be ok. If you are a bit nervous about something, you may want to refrigerate it and take it out an hour before you eat, and/or nuke it briefly. The main things to watch out for are: cooling down the food before putting on the box lid, and avoiding undercooked proteins/too-moist proteins in hot weather. Most offices in the US are airconditioned anyway, so you shouldn't run into too many problems with some basic safety precautions.

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Notorious A.M.D.
Bento-ing from: Frederick › Maryland › USA
Joined: 27 Jul 2009
User offline. Last seen 4 years 51 weeks ago.
Re: How many hours is a bento really safe at room ...

Thanks so much Maki! Sometimes I feel like I'm a little too cautious when it comes to food safety, but your reply and reading the safety guidelines makes me feel a lot better, and more informed! I'm making my first bento tomorrow! Wish me luck :)

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