Food Safety Issues/Organic Turkey left out


Hi Carol,

Please help...we need to know if our 22# organic turkey,who was cooked and sat out in his juices for over 4 hours after being in the oven,can be safely eaten cold or has to be heated to proper temps
to avoid getting sick?

thank you,

Hi J,

First -- I hope you and your family had a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Your's is a really good question, since the recommendation for the maximum amount of time that a food that requires time or temperature to control it for safety is 4 hours.  Being organic does not make the turkey any safer than other turkeys.

If you were a restaurant, you would be allowed to serve the turkey up to 4 hours out of the oven (without keeping it hot) but would then have to throw it out.  

Since you are right on the border of the 4 hour rule, if you decide to consume the turkey I would definitely reheat it first. While reheating does not guarantee a 100% safe product, it would at the very least kill any live bacteria that might be present.

Happy Black Friday.


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Carol Schlitt


I can answer questions on home food safety, sanitation and home food preservation.


I am a former Extension educator, nutrition, wellness and food safety, having retired August 1, 2010. I am a food safety instructor for the Illinois Department of Public Health, a ServSafe Instructor/Proctor and have my own company, Safe & Savory Solutions, Inc -

National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (Past President and current Historian), St. Louis Culinary Society.

BS - University of Illinois MS - Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville

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