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How Long Can Cream Cheese Sit Out?

Posted in Food Safety on August 29, 2022

Cream cheese can only sit out at room temperature for two hours before becoming unsafe to eat. However, if the temperature of the room it is in reaches 90° F, then it can only sit out for one hour.

What Happens to Cream Cheese When It Is Left Out?

Cream cheese can become a breeding ground for bacteria when left out of the refrigerator for an extended period. If it becomes contaminated and is still consumed, you can contract food poisoning. Within 30 minutes to a few hours, you may experience symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, etc. Recovery typically takes between 24 hours to several days.

How Cream Cheese Should be Stored

To store cream cheese properly and keep it from spoiling quickly, here are some tips:

  • Grab cream cheese and other dairy products at the grocery store last. That way, it is not sitting out as long before getting home.
  • Place it in the fridge as soon as possible.
  • Make sure the temperature of your refrigerator stays between 38°F (3°C) and 40°F (4°C).
  • Store it on an interior shelf in the fridge rather than in the door, where the temperature can fluctuate more often.

Cream cheese will spoil quickly if stored incorrectly. Once opened, cream cheese can last for one to two weeks in the refrigerator. In the freezer, an opened foil-wrapped cream cheese can last for two months.

How Can You Tell if Cream Cheese is Spoiled?

Here are several ways to tell if cream cheese has spoiled:

Change in Color

Cream cheese should be white or a cream color. If you notice it has turned yellow or see patches of blue or green, it is time to discard it.

Change in Texture

Cream cheese should be smooth, creamy, and easy to spread. As it turns, it will appear slimy, dry, crumbly, or grainy.

Change in Smell

It is unsafe when cream cheese smells pungent, sour, or rotten as opposed to mild, light, and pleasant.

Change in Taste

If you taste the cream cheese and it is sour, the safest choice is to discard it. Fresh cream cheese should have a mild, sweet, and pleasant tang.

Sell-By Date has Passed

Many types of cheese contain stabilizers and preservatives, which means they can last up to 30 days past the sell-by date on the package. As a result, the sell-by date on cream cheese is not necessarily the expiration date but can be used to help you determine how long it should last. However, dairy products are not known for their predictability and longevity when it comes to shelf life, which means the product can just as well spoil before it even reaches the sell-by date. If you believe another party or company is responsible for selling spoiled food that got you sick, you may be able to recover compensation. A food safety lawyer can help you explore your legal options during a free consultation.

How to Safely Soften Cream Cheese Without Leaving It Sitting Out

The fastest and a safe way to soften cream cheese without leaving it sitting at room temperature is to put it in the microwave. After putting the cream cheese in a microwave-safe dish, heat it at 10-second increments until softened. Alternatively, you can submerge a sealed cream cheese block in warm water, flipping it over every 5 minutes for about 10 to 15 minutes. If you must leave it sitting out to soften, you can cut the block into equal-sized cubes to quicken the process.