Subway has been selling sandwiches for more than fifty years. Their longevity has a great deal to do with quality, services, and offering healthy options.
You stop at Subway for lunch every week. Today, you left your egg salad sub sitting on your desk and started to wonder about food safety. How long can a Subway sandwich sit out before going bad?
The US Department of Agriculture recommends that Subway sandwiches never sit out for longer than 2 hours. Once your sandwich passes the 2-hour mark, it moves into the Danger Zone. This is a temperature area between 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 140˚F. Harmful bacteria multiply in the Danger Zone.
How Do I Know My Sandwich Has Gone Bad?
Harmful bacteria isn’t always detectable when it comes to taste and smell. Some toxins cause foodborne illnesses without ever letting you know they’re there.
Sure, some spoiled meats may leave off a funny smell, but not always. This is why the 2-hour rule is so important.
Once your tuna or roast beef passes the 40˚F start of the Danger Zone, you are risking your health by eating it. Especially if it’s full of deli meats, unrefrigerated deli meats can become a breeding ground for E Coli.
So be careful. If 2-hours isn’t long enough to finish your midday meal, get it into the fridge. Another storage option is a cooler with an ice pack.
What About Jimmy Johns?
Another famous sandwich shop is Jimmy Johns. They offer delivery, and the taste is a bit different from Subway. But, when it comes to their sandwiches, you should still stick to the 2-hour rule.
Sandwiches from this vendor may look and taste different, but the ingredients are still at risk.
When it comes to Jimmy Johns, we recommend refrigerating your leftovers. It’s perfectly okay not to finish your meal, but don’t risk your health if you forget.
Sandwiches left out for longer than 2-hours should go in the trash. Wasting food isn’t ideal, but food poisoning can cause severe symptoms. Your health is more important.
Here we have another famous sandwich shop. They brag about the quality of their ingredients and are found in nearly every town. But, when it comes to sitting out at room temperature, a Quiznos sandwich has 2 hours.
The FDA set this 2-hour rule for a reason. After 2-hours, your sandwich moves into the Danger Zone we talked about earlier.
If you left your Quiznos out and it’s been less than 2 hours, put it in the fridge. If you can’t recall and suspect it’s been longer, dispose of it. When in doubt, throw it out.
Other Store-Bought Sandwiches
It doesn’t matter if you bought your sandwich at Potbelly or from the local gas station. It only has 2 hours. The ingredients that go into making sandwiches are all perishable, for the most part.
The meat, cut vegetables, and condiments are all kept in the fridge when they’re not used. Bread is typically held at room temp but lasts longer in the refrigerator.
The Best Way To Store A Leftover Sandwich
Refrigerators offer the best option when it comes to storing leftovers of any kind, especially sandwiches. They are typically kept below 40˚F, which is just below that dreaded Danger Zone.
Once food moves into the Danger Zone, it can become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. Foodborne illnesses can cause severe symptoms that lead to dehydration.
You don’t want just to stick your sandwich in the fridge uncovered, though. When you store a sandwich, it must stay in a ziplock bag or airtight container. Bacteria can still grow in colder temps, so sealing out the air will help avoid that.
Can I Freeze A Leftover Sandwich?
You can freeze anything. The question is, do you want to? Their consistency can change when you freeze bread, meat, veggies, and other food items.
Freezing a leftover sandwich will help avoid bacterial infection, but the texture will change and may be inedible. Keep that sandwich in the fridge until you’re ready to send it out with your high school student.
How Long Can A Sandwich Last In The Fridge?
Once your sandwich is made, you have two to three days to eat it. Remember, bacteria can grow in a refrigerator. They just multiply at a slower rate than they do in the Danger Zone.
After a few days, that bacteria will add up. This is a great reason why you should put a date on food before storing it.
Dating your food will remind you when you put it in the fridge. It will also prompt you to eat it before it goes bad. When that happens, you waste less food and save money. You can even add a “throwaway” date to be safe.
How To Tell When My Sandwich Has Gone Bad
Some bacteria will not let you know that they are lingering on your leftovers by smell or taste. This is why putting a date on your food is essential for safety. But if your sandwich smells bad or looks funny, don’t risk it.
Throw it in the garbage. Another tip when sandwiches go bad is the deli meat feels slimy.
If you purchase a sandwich with slimy lunch meat or an odd smell, try to return it or just throw it away. Subway, Quiznos, and all the other sandwich shops you come across are subjected to inspections.
They are required to follow food safety procedures and likely do so. Nothing kills a business faster than food poisoning.
Subway Vs. Homemade Sandwiches
Those of us who enjoy the process of food creation will likely always prefer homemade.
There are few things more satisfying than making a sandwich and enjoying it. But, there are downsides to this as well. Let’s take a look at the plusses and minuses of both options.
This chain is in every town, freeway exit, and airport in the United States for a good reason. They offer healthy meals at reasonable prices.
Let’s face it. A turkey sub is far more nutritious than a fast-food burger or taco. It’s also lower in calories.
Getting a sandwich from Subway is much simpler than making one yourself. There is less clean-up, and you aren’t required to have all the ingredients on hand.
Subway sandwiches are an excellent option for people who eat in their offices or classrooms. They are perfect for the person on the go, taste fantastic, and the bread is fresh. These are all plusses.
Getting a sandwich at Subway also offers creativity. You can build your sandwich. It’s challenging to come up with a con for getting a sandwich from Subway.
If you love to make sandwiches, then you’ll have to agree, the benefits are worth it. When you make sandwiches at home, you can save money.
The price of one pound of sliced turkey breast is the same as one sub sandwich. When you add the cost of groceries and how many sandwiches you can make, homemade typically wins.
You can have all the ingredients you like in your fridge. You can shred the lettuce and even cut your tomato, which is slightly fresher than Subway.
The only con is the clean-up and time it takes to make the sandwich. It will take somewhat longer to make one since they’re all prepped at a Subway.
Several bread options are available at home if you freeze it. Frozen bread will defrost within minutes sitting out. But don’t let it sit out for longer than 2 hours.
Like lunchmeat, tomatoes, and other sandwich options, bread can carry harmful bacteria left in the Danger Zone.
Now that you understand sandwiches are at risk of spoiling after 2 hours out at room temp let’s talk tips. Here are some of our favorite things to do with sandwiches.
Toasting The Bread
Potbelly is known for toasted sandwiches, and even Subway offers them. There is something delightful about warm crispy bread surrounding our favorite sandwich fillings. It melts the cheese and adds a bit of oomph to your lunch.
Toasting at home is simple. You can use the broiler, a toaster oven, a waffle iron, or simply toast the bread before assembling your sandwich.
Melting The Cheese
When you toast your sandwich after assembling, the cheese will melt. Melted cheese is lovely. Just ask the people in Philadelphia.
You can use all the methods we listed above. Some of our favorite melting cheese for sandwiches include the following:
- Pepper jack
Don’t Skip The Veggies
Some of our favorite sandwiches include crunchy vegetables. When you fill your sandwich with these veggies, you’ll taste crisp flavors that are filled with health benefits. Here are some fun things to put on sandwiches:
- Artichoke hearts
- Shredded lettuce
- Sliced peppers
- Baby kale
- Sliced carrots
Have Fun With Condiments
Mayo is just one way to dress up a sandwich. Here are some fun additions:
- Pesto sauce
- Brown mustard
Sandwiches are wonderful. They can always be the same, or you can eat a different one each day. Remember that they are all susceptible to bacterial infection if left out longer than 2 hours. So eat it or put it in the fridge.
My name is Keren Tayler. I am a stay-at-home mama to three lovely girls, Sarah + Rachel + Hannah. Prior to becoming a mom, I had a successful career in the accounting field, steps away from becoming a CPA. I decided to give up on my career in order to raise my own kids (as opposed to letting a nanny do it, no judgment here :)) I learned a lot and I love sharing it with other moms. Along the way, I also became a Certified Food Handler.