Turkey sat out all night....

CaroleOHNovember 21, 2007

My hubby brought home a frozen turkey he got from work last night. I was out with some friends so didn't realize he had put the turkey in the sink and left it there. I just found it about 1/2 hour ago!

It still feels cold, but the outer layer of the turkey was soft and what alarmed me the plastic bag around the turkey was full of air, so I punctured it with a knife to let the air out. It doesn't smell off, but now I'm afraid to eat this turkey since it sat out at room temp for 12-13 hours.

What do you all think? It's in the fridge now, and I don't think it's totally defrosted, but it's defrosted quite a bit.

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I wouldn't take the chance. Throw it out.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 9:22AM
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Ever had the whole family get sick from Thanksgiving dinner? I have. I, too, say toss it.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 9:41AM
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Toss, sigh. It's not worth the chance unless your house was VERY cold overnight.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 9:55AM
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I would take the temperature of the thawed outer meat. If it's not more than about 40° I would cook it right now. The inside is probably still frozen solid.
No way I'd keep it until tomorrow, though.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 11:06AM
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Call the Butterball Turkey Help Line.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 11:08AM
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An inflated package is a bad sign. If it smells okay it probably is. Skin it and wash it well if you really want to try it. Prehaps you can get the bones out and make pet food out of it? Rotten meat won't make good pet food but if it smells okay it should be fresh enough for dog food. Your nose has very strong instinctive ability to detect bad meat.

We get hams as a christmas bonus. See if you can get some advance warning if he gets a christmas treat. Perhaps prepare him next year with a cooler and ice. Those of us that have been there awhile always forget to warn the new people. Surprized a bunch this week when they got handed a turkey when the walked in the door.

: )

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 11:13AM
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Guess I'm in the minority, but I would have no qualms about cooking it up and eating it... Its basically still frozen, and the frozen inner core is going to prevent the thawing outer part from getting very warm...


    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 11:23AM
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I would call the Butterball help line too, but I tend to agree with Fearlessem - if it is still cold and frozen in the middle, I would probably cook it.


    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 11:39AM
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I left mine out overnight ON PURPOSE!! Monday night.
Only about the outer 1/8" or so thaws that first few hours.
Then it goes in the fridge (probably 38 degrees). Tonight I will check to see how thawed it is. If necessary, I will finish it in cold water tomorrow morning!
I'm probably in the minority too, but I've never made anyone sick.


    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 12:06PM
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My bet is the help line is going to tell you to toss it, they will always err on the side of caution.

I'm with Emily if the bird is still mostly frozen I would have no qualms about cooking it. I have often left a frozen bird out overnight to jump start the thawing process. Then move to the fridge.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 12:23PM
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I leave frozen stuff out overnight all the time, then refrigerate it in the morning, cook it in the evening, and we're still alive. My 22 lb turkey was in my sink overnight (granted our house stays around 60 degrees).

The air filled plastic is a little concerning, but if it smells fine than it is fine, we all know how horrible spoiled/bad meat smells - there's no mistaking it. As long as it's refrigerated then cooked properly it's going to be okay.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 12:34PM
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I took my turkey breast out of the freezer yesterday, it's about 8lbs. Not much thawing has gone on in the last 24 hours so I put in cold water about an hour ago just to get the process started. I just checked it and the wrapping around mine is puffed out too. It must be something that happens. Mine was barely starting to thaw when I put it in the water.


    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 1:30PM
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I'm with the "it should be fine" camp. Back in the day, my mom used to defrost wrapped frozen meat in the kitchen sink all the time. I've even defrosted a frozen turkey in cold water overnight with no problem.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 1:43PM
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Even though it probably would be okay I wouldn't take any chances. I would throw it out.

I thaw mine in cold water.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 2:05PM
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I'M also in the it's okay camp. I thaw frozen meat overnight all the time. Esp. turkeys and have had no problem. Wash it really good in cold water and it should be fine! Happy Thanksgiving. Gina

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 2:05PM
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You are cooking it, so any bacteria on the outer thawed part should be good and killed after roasting. I also am in the camp that if it smells ok and it still feels cold, it's probably fine.

If you want to be cautious you can get a new turkey, but there's really no need to throw this one out. I would still roast it right away, then boil up the meat and bones to make a soup. The extended cooking in simmering liquid will certainly kill anything bad.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 2:07PM
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Well thanks for everyone's posts! However, I had already left for the grocery before I read some of the "it's ok" posts. So I threw it out and bought a new one. Snuck it into the house and into the fridge as I knew my hubby would be upset that I had thrown his work turkey away, but I'm a little paranoid about food going bad. My son has a three day hockey tournament starting on Friday, so I can just see him getting sick and missing it!

Of course I had to get a 16 pound fresh free range turkey that cost me a pretty penny, but I am hoping it is better than the frozen one my hubby got. The other reason I threw it out is because of the fact it wasn't a really big turkey - maybe 13 pounds and it felt pretty defrosted and the air in the bag sort of made me nervous.

I just knew I wouldn't enjoy taking a bite out of that bird, and would be very upset if my family got sick. My kids would never eat turkey again!

Happy Turkey Day everyone!


    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 2:15PM
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Carole, it's too late but I'm in the "it's probably OK" camp. My 21 pounder is sitting in my garage in a cooler right now, packed on ice and waiting for tomorrow but I've spent my whole life thawing frozen turkeys by leaving them in the kitchen sink overnight and roasting them the next morning.

Yes, I know the food experts don't like it. Yes, I know it's a "risk". I think anyone who is uncomfortable shouldn't do it.


    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 2:54PM
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I, for one, am glad to hear you tossed it. There are more bacteria on the skin of poultry than in muscle meat. The skin has an incredible about of bacteria on the surface just waiting to develop into a toxin, under the right conditions. Therefore, the skin was the first to thaw and was probably at a temperature warmer than a food safe 40°F for a long time, and that would concern me.

I just heard a gal from the Butterball Hot-Line on the radio. She said the most interesting request she heard was a guy who wondered if it was o.k. to eat the turkey he had just cut in half with his chainsaw? He only wanted to use half of it, so he used his chain saw on it to split the bird in two and there was some chainsaw oil on it..... Did she think it was safe to eat chainsaw oil? It must be a guy thing...


    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 2:55PM
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Carol as I mentioned I would not have pitched it. Mind you I have had situations where I was uncomfortable with the smell, texture, etc of something even when it was OK. In those cases I could not have choked it down.

You did what made you comfortable and ensures that you have a great day tomorrow with no worries. Worth way more than a stupid old bird!

Have a lovely Thanksgiving.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 3:01PM
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I think you made the wise choice based on flavor alone. Personally I don't like the taste of a thawed bird. They just don't taste good to me. Maybe something happens to the meat flavor/texture with such a long thaw time. They always taste "old" to me. And a free-range bird will be delicious.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 3:04PM
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"And a free-range bird will be delicious."

Agreed! Enjoy your bird.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 5:02PM
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Carole, It may have been ok, but the fact is you just don't know for sure. In safetly/sanitation glasses we were always taught that meats should always be thawed in the fridge, and that in large poultry the entire bird must be kept under 42-degrees else bacteria form under the skin and then multiply and spread during the long cook time. Yes, theortetically, the bird gets cooked enough to destroy some bacteria, but not all strains. And some strains of bacteria are getting increasingly heat-tolerant.

Obviously, some people take the chance and it's never been a problem. My mother used to thaw things overnight on the counter and never ever got sick from it. She did, however manage to send all of us (except me) to the ER at least once over the years with food poisoning. She claimed we were "wimps". My "wimpy" sister ended up in ICU twice.

Oj, and the only reason I didn't end up in the ER? My boss called my BF because I was three hours late for work, and the BF was smart enough to realize that wasn't like me at all. He immediately drove over to my apt and found me passed out in the bathroom where I'd been for about seven hours. Tiny, tiny chance of that happening in the case you outlined, but totally not the way you want to spend your weekend.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 6:49PM
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I agree that I wouldn't keep a bird on the counter for 13 hours. Here's an article to support...

"The Big Thaw"
Turkeys must be kept at a safe temperature during thawing. While frozen, a turkey is safe indefinitely. However, if the turkey is allowed to thaw at a temperature above 40 ºF, any harmful bacteria that may have been present before freezing can begin to grow again unless proper thawing methods are used.

A package of frozen meat or poultry thawing on the counter longer than 2 hours is not safe. Even though the center of the package may still be frozen, the outer layer of the food is in the "danger zone," between 40 and 140 ºF -- a temperature range where harmful bacteria multiply rapidly.

There are three safe ways to defrost food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in the microwave.


    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 9:33PM
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