Turkey thawing question (need answer fast)

My wife thawed out a small turkey by putting it in warm water and leaving it for a few hours. Now she’s starting to think that wasn’t such a good idea. Is it safe to eat after being thoroughly cooked?

No. Warm water bad.

Hard to say really. There are certainly bacteria present on raw turkey, even if its frozen. If you give them enough of a chance to grow they will absolutely give you food poisoning. For a healthy individual that might be just a bout of diarrhea, but that might put great-grandma in the hospital.

In this particular case nobody can really make a reliable determination. If the water was hot enough that it remained lukewarm for hours then the turkey is probably isn’t safe. If the water was only slightly lukewarm, but the turkey was frozen hard enough to the cool water rapidly, then it’s probably safe. And, adding to the uncertainty, you can’t rely on a bad odor to tell you if there’s enough bacterial spoilage to cause food poisoning. If you wanted to follow commercial food safety guidelines you would throw it out. These guidelines are very conservative, for good reason. But millions of people take greater risks at home all the time without consequence.

Thanks for all answers. We’re going to toss the turkey and just get another one tomorrow.

I thaw frozen meat including turkey all the time in hot water. I don’t let it sit there very long though. I have it covered in water and keep a flow of 140 degree water flowing into the container. A whole frozen turkey might sit there for an hour with me opening it up as it thaws. It’s partly cooked by the time I’m done. Then I microwave it with lots of water. The result is a steamed turkey, very tender.

thawing in the refrigerator is the safest.

Not really. Thawing in cool water is just as safe: I’ve done it for years without a problem.

if you monitor the water temperature, have the meat totally surrounded by water and don’t let it get above refrigerator temperature then it is a safe. the fridge is low effort and idiot proof (if you take it out before a week is up).

that said people have been thawing frozen turkeys multiple ways and not died or got too sick or sick at all.

While the OP may have been answered, let’s adjourn to Cafe Society.

samclem, Moderator, General Questions

wouldn’t cooking the turkey kill any bacteria that grew during the time in warm water? I thought one of the reasons for not stuffing the turkeys and chickens is that salmonella etc are already present due to the processing methods and to cook the stuffing to the right temp to kill bacteria over cooks the meat on the outside. Now if it was to be eaten raw or was an already cooked turkey being frozen I could see it.

Thawing in the fridge doesnt seem to be a good idea to me, stuff in the fridge will still be partially frozen several daya later mean while the thawed parts are just waiting. I prefer to put in a water tight bag and place in cold water.

Yes, but certain common bacteria produce toxins which can cause food poisoning. Some of these toxins can survive the cooking process, even though the bacteria do not. If these bacteria grow in large quantities, they can give you food poisoning even if you cook the food very thoroughly.

Rediculous. I’m a Microbiologist, and I can assure you that the turkey was fine. The doubling time of Salmonella at ideal conditions (broth at 37C) is about 20-25 minutes. You would have never grown enough in the time alloted to cause a dangerous level of growth.

In warm water for a couple of hours? That bird is completely fine. If it were there for a full day or two then you might have to start worrying but that turkey is just fine. Raw meat at the grocery store sits in the danger zone for far longer. The food safety Nazis are wildly overreacting.

If you want to play it super safe, skip the stuffing and spatchcock the bird and rinse it thoroughly. Cook it to temperature and test both the breast and thighs for doneness. You’ll be just fine.