It’s a hard decision to make. If you eat it and die, you’ll be really sorry. If you eat it and get horribly sick, you’ll be just as sorry—until you start to feel better, when you’ll finally say, “At least this experience has taught me a lesson, and I’ll never do that again.”
So I placed the safely (?) unopened string cheese in the refrigerator and sat around for five days thinking about it. That didn’t help. So I went to the manufacturer’s website, but they didn’t give a phone number and the email form asked too many personal questions.
So I turned to the world’s greatest string cheese expert, Google.
At Answers.yahoo.com, questioner JuJuBee left her string cheese “under the [car] seat in a sealed package for the last two days” and someone named Brynn’s suggestion, “I wouldn’t eat it,” was voted the best answer. It was also the only answer.
I didn’t want to throw away good food based on one opinion, so I clicked over to Answers.com (apparently unrelated to Answers.yahoo.com), where the single answer by SuzziQ was much more palatable:
“String cheese is individually packaged in a clean environment, is a cultured food, and is low moisture. It can be safely left out of the refrigerator for hours.” She added that it would be fine in a backpack all day, “so long as the backpack is not left lying on the blacktop in the summer sun for an hour.”
SuzziQ, like Brynn, was just one person, so I couldn’t trust her completely. But at Chowhound.chow.com, all 15 respondents to a question about leaving Monterey Jack and cheddar out all night echoed ballulah's answer: “It's safe, you'll be fine.”
Thew (so sure of being right that (s)he felt no need to capitalize or punctuate) replied, “the french never refrigerate their cheese,” and neither did the commenters on this food site.
“I come from a long line of 'cheese people,’“ stated romansperson. “…My grandfather would have heartily disapproved of refrigerating cheddar—it detracts from the taste and texture of the cheese.”
Chowhound Smartie leaves butter unrefrigerated on a dish, even in Florida. Whitemist blames Health Department over-reaction on the need to control restaurants’ “handling and serving of larger quantities to a whole lot more people than you or I would. I prefer my cheeses unrefrigerated.”