This post contains affiliate links.
For whatever reason you left some hummus out, sounds like a cardinal sin to me, but now you need to know if it is still safe to eat.
Hummus can last unrefrigerated for 4-6 hours. In humid to hot conditions hummus will last a lot less time. The USDA generally recommends most foods not be left out for more than 2 hours. Hummus can last a little longer when it is storebought as it is often pasteurized.
There are several different forms of hummus. These guidelines should only be altered slightly depending on the different kinds of hummus you use. They are pasteurized commercially produced hummus, traditional style hummus, and homemade hummus.
USDA & FDA Standards
The guidelines between these two agencies differ slightly. Part of the reason for this is the USDA has a standard of 2 hours for any food that is going to be out of refrigeration that should be refrigerated.
This standard doesn’t necessarily apply to all foods. It especially applies to meats, whether they are raw or cooked. In the case of hummus, the FDA has seen in their testing that hummus will be safe for about 4 hours after it’s been pulled out of the refrigerator.
The data from the FDA is according to the blog hopefoods.com. You can read their great article on hummus here.
For more information straight from the USDA’s website, you can read some great articles here.
Agencies like the USDA and FDA use the measurement and tracking of harmful microorganisms in order to determine the safety of food. These microorganisms can include bacteria and fungi.
One thing to note is that we can’t really entirely avoid contact with these microorganisms. They are around us all of the time. What we need to be careful of is that are certain ones that can be harmful at high levels.
These include bacterias like salmonella and E. coli. The good news is that these aren’t known to develop on hummus without some sort of other contaminator coming into contact with them.
What do we do about the bacteria?
Luckliy ever since the development of germ theory we have been learning more and more about how microorganisms operate and how they can affect our health.
These microorganisms are a life form. We know the ideal conditions for their existence. When we know these things we can make sure our perishable food, like hummus, doesn’t stay in those conditions for too long.
The Bacterial “Danger Zone”
The USDA has a great article on temperature’s effects on bacterial growth. The article states that temperatures between 40°-140° F are perfect conditions for the rapid growth of bacteria.
That’s one of the reasons that the temperature of food is so important and why it’s so important to store food in a refrigerator, or keep it hot if it’s going to be served over a long period of time.
The USDA specifies that temperatures at 90° F or above will have an even higher rate of bacterial growth. If you have a commercially made, pasteurized hummus it might be safe for 4 hours in a nice clean house at a relatively cool temperature.
If left outside at a barbecue, or some other activity it will go bad a lot faster. It would be wise to keep it out for as little time as possible when you’re in high-temperature areas, with higher humidity, and lots of contact with people dipping into it.
These factors greatly increase the likelihood of contamination.
The Importance of Cleanliness
Another crucial factor in keeping hummus safe for consumption is going to be how clean you keep the environment that you have it in. The USDA specifies in this article how keeping a clean environment will stop the introduction of new microorganisms to your hummus.
Cleanness applies to counters, tables, serving spoons, and even your hands as you handle the food.
The Different Kinds of Hummus
Different kinds of hummus are made differently, some with the inclusion of preservatives, and different kinds of ingredients that might be more perishable than others.
Commercial Pasteurized Hummus
This type of hummus will tend to last the longest. This applies to it being left out as well as applying to how long it will last in cold storage. This is the kind of hummus that you can expect to last 4-6 hours in clean conditions at a temperature that’s not too high.
In hot and humid outdoor conditions this hummus should only be kept out for about 2 hours.
This kind of hummus can still be store-bought, but it isn’t going to be as full of preservatives as the pasteurized hummus might be. This kind of hummus should be expected to last closer to the 4-hour mark in ideal conditions.
In less than ideal health conditions, traditional hummus should go back to the broad USDA standard of only being left out for 2 hours or less.
Homemade hummus is the freshest hummus you can get. It also tends to have the least by way of preservatives. This kind of hummus should only be left out for 2 hours or less in ideal conditions.
This kind of hummus lasts the least amount of time in the fridge and the least amount of time out in the open. It should only stay in a refrigerator for about 3-4 days.
In the less than ideal conditions of the hot and humid outdoors this type of hummus should only be left out for about 1 hour before going back into the refrigerator.
If you would like to make your own hummus, here is the blender I like to use.
In making decisions on food safety always consult a health professional. The information provided in this blog is only a starting point for learning about the safety of different leftovers. It will expose you to some basic information from the FDA and the USDA.
Results vary widely for different people who consume foods that have been left out of refrigeration. Always take advice at your own risk. Practice caution and follow guidelines from reputable regulatory agencies.
Enjoy your leftovers, and in the spirit of cookforfolks.com, go cook for your folks!