Food safety standards of countries differ slightly: For example, some know a strict 2h rule, others a 2h/4h immediate rule. Some assume 4°C refrigeration, others 8°C. Some ingredients are considered legally unfit for consumption or sale in country X but not country Y. There might be far more differences around if diving deeper into local regulations.

Always using the most strict rule of all considered valid will probably lead to more food waste but not much additional safety. Always using the most permissive would require excluding some national standards considered permissive to a scientifically unsound level - opening a race related can of worms :) But US-centric or euro-centric thinking might also be unfit for a global Q&A site...

Additionally, prescribed preservation techniques (pasteurization etc) might differ with locality, complicating the matter.

  • Food safety standards are also about additives, contamination, etc. That makes this question very broad. I also doubt that this can rise above 'opinion-based'. – Jan Doggen Aug 2 '17 at 12:46

My general understanding is that part of why we close so many "is this thing I left on the counter/in the car/crock pot didn't turn on still safe to eat" as a dupe is that we can not be liable for giving people unsafe food consumption advice. If someone follows an answer that says "ah, I've never gotten sick and I do that all the time"... and then gets gravely ill or dies from it... that's a legal issue... we are not doctors.

We stick to the most strict version of the rules because we can not do otherwise without risk. We are not lawyers and we do not work for the local governments that set these standards. Another country having less strict rules does not mean that they are as safe... it doesn't mean that they're not... but we can not take the risk.

The rules on our canonical posts are the rules we use.

How do I know if food left at room temperature is still safe to eat?

How long can I store a food in the pantry, refrigerator, or freezer?

Is there a problem with defrosting meat on the counter?

How long can cooked food be safely stored at room/warm temperature?

If you personally follow different rules, that's fine, but we should stick to these guidelines in general when advising others.

  • Liability is one perspective, but also, our audience is large and thus we want answers that are genuinely low risk (advice that gets 1 reader sick in 100 or 1000 will make someone sick at our scale), and agencies specifically tasked with that are always going to be more reliable than armchair food science or even armchair scientific literature review. So I don't necessarily agree that we must check all countries and take the strictest; the important thing is that we take recommendations from some agency that's made an informed, expert decision with a goal of very low to no risk. – Cascabel Sep 25 '17 at 14:50
  • Things to be on the lookout for: some things genuinely are different between countries (e.g. egg safety depending on whether they're washed), and some rules may be biased by local traditions. – Cascabel Sep 25 '17 at 14:51
  • " that's a legal issue... we are not doctors." My doctor couldn't tell me if food was safe either, unless he sent my $3 worth of leftovers in for $100 in lab tests. Having had actual food poisoning, I will never, ever ask the question again. If I have the least doubt about food, I throw it out. – Terry Carmen Nov 14 at 3:32

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