Never leave food out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours. If the temperature is higher than 90°F, food should not be left out for more than 1 hour. My advice is to set a limit of two to four hours when it comes to consuming hot foods, both in terms of quality and safety. If the cost and waste of discarding chili that has been preserved for a long time is an issue, consider heating the product in smaller batches more frequently or reducing production.
You'll find similar statements from government agencies around the world. The safety limit for raw or cooked food is 2 hours in the danger zone (40-140°F or 4.4-60°C). Since you cooked the food at a safe temperature and then heated it to a very high temperature, the food inside the thermos is not likely to spoil. That said, cold foods should always be served cold as soon as possible and hot foods should always be served hot as soon as possible after preparation.
Winsight is a leading B2B information services company focused on the food and beverage industry, providing information and market intelligence to business leaders on all channels where consumers purchase food and beverages (convenience stores, grocery retailers, restaurants and non-commercial food services) through media, events, data products, advisory services and trade shows. Packing hot and cold foods properly in a thermos is essential to ensure that foods are safe to eat when lunchtime rolls around, so let's review both methods. If your food doesn't stay hot as long as you thought, you should preheat the thermos. Because bacteria are everywhere, even after cooking food at a safe internal temperature, they can re-enter food and then reproduce.
Although chili is more resistant to heat retention than foods such as cream-based sauces, lean proteins or vegetables, it is important to remember that if kept warm, the food continues to cook (slowly), causing associated changes and loss of quality, such as overcooking and drying. Most bacteria produce protein toxins, which are actually the main agents responsible for food poisoning, and several of these toxins are resistant to heat. Cooking kills enough for food to be safe for consumption, but some organisms, such as bacterial spores of bacillus and clostridium, can survive the cooking process and immediately start producing more bacteria. If any food is left after this time, you should throw it in the trash or keep it cold at 8°C or lower until it is used.
Municipal health codes vary and most of the ones I have reviewed do not specify a maximum shelf life for foods that are kept safely above the minimum heat storage temperature. After the thermos has cooled, place your shake, drink, or other cold food in the thermos and pack it in the lunchbox. One thing to consider before sending food in a thermos for the first time is to let your child try it at home first, so they feel comfortable opening and closing the container on their own.