Is It Dangerous To Eat Leftover Egg Dishes That Haven't Been Refrigerated?

As we enjoy our first mostly post-covid summer, there's never been a better time for a picnic. Forget the socially distanced picnics of yesteryear and plop down on a blanket with your friends or loved ones to enjoy some al fresco dining. While the season and the spirit might have you looking around for the best things to bring on a picnic, some of those that spring right to mind need to be approached with a little extra caution.

Though often considered perfect picnic foods, there may be reasons to steer clear of egg salad and deviled eggs during picnic season. Contrary to popular belief, these picnic classics do spoil the same as any egg dish, and you'll be shocked how quickly. Especially in the heat. And no, you probably can't count on your cooler as a substitute fridge. Unless you keep it below 40°and have a thermometer to check that (the USDA recommends an appliance thermometer, but a food thermometer will probably suffice, via the USDA).

Just how quickly do they spoil?

What about hard-boiled eggs? Don't the shells protect them from bacteria? Only in the fridge, it turns out. While a hard-boiled egg lasts up to seven days refrigerated, like any egg dish, it's only good for up to two hours left out (via Glad & Still Tasty). Additionally, according to the USDA, if it's above 90° the day of your picnic, only keep eggs out for one hour. But what if you eat within the spoilage window? Can you enjoy those leftovers tomorrow? Basically, no. Unless the item has been out of the fridge (that's your home fridge, not your cooler unless it's below 40°) for less than two hours, including transit both ways, say goodbye to that egg salad. 

It's still super important to bring something to keep your food cool, which can help extend that food window to closer to two hours in the summer. While a woven basket may be cute, a good old-fashioned cooler filled with ice will keep your food safer, especially if you've got deviled egg potato salad on the menu. No, being half potato won't mean it's 50% more okay to eat. Cooked potatoes spoil quite quickly, so it's a good idea to treat any cooked potato product short of chips like you would meat or eggs (via Gordon Food Service). In fact, potatoes grow bacteria so well that research shows they can be used as test plates for bacterial growth (via MIT). Yum, right? Yeah, you're gonna want to keep any potato salad over ice right next to the egg salad, and ditch any leftovers.