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According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), cooked chicken should not be left out at room temperature for more than two hours. This is because the danger zone for bacterial growth is between 40°F (4°C) and 140°F (60°C). In this temperature range, bacteria can multiply rapidly, increasing the risk of foodborne illness.

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Here are some additional factors to consider:

  • Temperature: If the ambient temperature is above 90°F (32°C), the safe holding time is reduced to one hour.
  • Refrigeration: After the two-hour window, cooked chicken should be refrigerated or frozen to slow down bacterial growth.
  • Reheating: Leftover chicken should be thoroughly reheated to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) before consumption.

Remember, when in doubt, throw it out! It's always better to err on the side of caution and discard cooked chicken that has been sitting out for too long to prevent potential foodborne illness.

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