Food Safety Issues/Frozen spatchcocks,


Hi, I left out 500g spatchcocks on counter to defrost for 8 hours by mistake, they were warm but didn't smell so I have marinated them and want to cook them tomorrow. Will this be ok?

Hi Julie,

I had to look up spatchcocks (not something you hear everyday in the US) and realized you were referring to poultry.  Thanks for helping me to learn a new word today!

The rule of thumb for defrosting potentially hazardous foods (foods that are capable of supporting the growth of harmful bacteria and must be kept either hot or cold to remain safe) is that they can be at room temperature no more than 4 hours before they would have to be pitched.  Since your spatchcocks were out at room temperature twice this recommendation, and given that the bacterial load on poultry is typically high, I advise that they not be cooked and consumed.

While smell is an indicator of food spoilage organisms, the kind of bacteria that can make you ill does not give off any signals that they are present.  In other words you can't tell by sight, smell or taste.  And given that some bacteria can produce a waste product while growing that is toxic and not destroyed by heat, cooking does not automatically make a food that has been temperature abused safe to consume.  Therefore the recommendation is to pitch the spatchcocks and not take a chance.



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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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