Storing cooked foods at room temperature is a matter of food safety. Bacteria thrive in certain conditions, and leaving cooked food unrefrigerated can lead to foodborne illnesses.
In general, it's recommended that cooked foods should not be left unrefrigerated for more than two hours. However, this guideline can vary depending on factors like temperature and humidity.
In hot weather (above 90°F or 32°C), the window for safe unrefrigerated storage shrinks to just one hour.
On the other hand, in colder temperatures (below 40°F or 4°C), cooked food can remain unrefrigerated for a bit longer, but it's still best to adhere to the two-hour rule.
To ensure safety, it's advisable to refrigerate or freeze cooked food promptly after it has cooled down a bit.
When in doubt, remember the saying: "When in the sun or in doubt, throw it out." It's better to be cautious with food safety, as foodborne illnesses can be unpleasant and, in some cases, dangerous.
Always prioritize the safety and well-being of those who will be consuming the food.