Food Safety Issues/frozen turkey

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Question
We bought a 25 lb Turkey Monday afternoon for Thursday. This is my first Turkey ,so I'm clueless. Was not aware of thawing times (5 days) so today I took it out of the fridge to help speed up the process only to find out this was a bad idea!! The bird was out for approx. 2 hours no more than.....is this still safe, as we are hosting thanksgiving and I don't want anyone too get sick!!

Answer
It's not a good idea to thaw a turkey at room temperature but being out for only 2 hours will not make the turkey potentially hazardous.I want to start out saying people have been thawing frozen turkey at room temperature for generations. The risk is very low if you do and it is even lower if you leave the packaging in place. The hazard increases when you allow the turkey to thaw and then reach room temperature. Potentially hazardous microorganisms start growing at about 50F. I'm going to take heat for saying this but it's true. The rule says potentially hazardous food should be kept below 41F. The rule use to be 45F. The FDA model food code lowered the temperature to 41F from 45F a few years ago. There is a 5F safety factor built in so 50F is fine. I  don't want to confuse you.The cooking process will kill any bacteria but some potentially harmful bacteria produce toxins which cooking won't remove. A real hazard would be if you touched the turkey after it reached 50F and you had a boil or lesion (cut) infected with staff. I doubt that's going to happen. By the way my grandmother who emigrated here from Russia always thawed frozen turkey in a paper bag on the bottom step of her basement for 2 days before we ate it. No one ever got sick. So don't worry about leaving it out for 2 hours. You are getting close to thanksgiving so here's what you can do. Put the turkey in the roasting pan and run cool water (less than 70F) on it until it thaws. That's the fastest safe way to thaw it. Good luck and have a great thanksgiving.  

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Carl LaFrate

Expertise

I can answer food safety questions relative to food processing, retail food and food salvage after a catastrophic event such as a hurricane, flood, ammonia leak or fire. Questions related to HACCP, Regulatory, GFSI, SQF, BRC, liability issues, contamination events, pest infestation, pest control methodology,food safety defense, pathogen prevention such as L. Monocytogenes control in food processing and retail, any subject related to food safety including at home issues.

Experience

30 years experience as a food safety consultant working for the top food processors, food retailers and insurance companies that write liability policies related to food processing, storage and distribution. My firm employees 6 full time food safety auditors. I work for top law firms throughout the USA and am a staff consultant for Douglas Peterson and Associates, one of the top forensic engineering firms in the world. I also work with Risk Solutions International, a global leader in risk management.

Organizations
New York State Association for Food Protection, past president, executive board Central Atlantic States Association of Food and Drug Officials

Publications
Progressive Grocer Magazine Smart Money Magazine Private Label Buyer Magazine Supermarket News Natural Foods Merchandiser Magazine Food Service Director Magazine NYS Association for Food Protection Annual Report NYS Association for Food Protection Newsletter

Education/Credentials
Syracuse University, Microbiology/Biology NYS College of Environmental Sciences, Plant and Environmental Biology Cornell University, Food and Dairy Processing

Awards and Honors
Wm. Hickey Award (2006), NYS Association for Food Protection, for contributions in the field of food safety and sanitation New York State Integrated Pest Management Award (2007), NYS Assoc. for Food Protection, for contributions in the filed of integrated pest management.

Past/Present Clients
Pillsbury, Agri-Mark, Associated Grocers, Beatrice Foods, Cargill, Southern Cold Storage, Quaker, Ben & Jerry’s, Delverde Pasta (Italy), New York Bakery, Cabot Cheese, Hazelwood Farms, General Mills, Price Chopper Supermarkets, P&C Supermarkets, Great American Supermarkets, Tops Markets, Big M Supermarkets, Big Bear Supermarkets, Frito-Lay Distribution Centers, IBP, Excell, Eckerd Drugs, Rite Aid Drug Stores, Fay’s Drugs, Carl’s Drugs, AWI Wholesale Food Distribution, McLane Food Distributors, Golub Food Distribution, many supermarket chains (many include large scale specialty food service operations), Burger King, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Darden Foods (Red Lobster, Olive Garden), LSG Skychefs (Germany, US), Glen Mills Schools, Cornell University, Crider Poultry, Caesar’s Palace, The Oneida Indian Nation, Taylor Meat Packing, UCB Packaging Films

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