Friday, November 9, 2012
Have you ever encountered any of these situations? Extension Educators receive countless questions during the Holidays. Here is just a sampling.
Q. "I just discovered I cooked the turkey with the package of giblets still inside the cavity. Are the turkey and giblets safe to eat?"
A. If giblets were left in the cavity during roasting, even though this is not recommended, the turkey and giblets are probably safe to use. However, if the packaging containing the giblets has changed shape or melted in any way during cooking, do not use the giblets or the turkey because harmful chemicals from the packaging may have penetrated the surrounding meat.
Q. "This morning, I discovered the pork roast was left out all night. I took it out of the freezer to thaw for awhile last night and forgot to put it back in the fridge before I went to bed. The roast is completely thawed and warm to the touch. If I cook it, will it be safe?"
A. Unfortunately, this roast should not be eaten. It has been out of refrigeration too long. At room temperature, bacteria that may be present multiply very rapidly and some types of bacteria will produce toxins which are not destroyed by cooking and can possibly cause illness. Never thaw frozen food on the kitchen counter. Refrigerator thawing is much safer. You may also thaw foods in cold running water or in the microwave. These foods must be cooked immediately to a safe minimum internal temperature before refrigerating.
Q. "I received a gift of a smoked pheasant from a mail order company. It was packed in a box with no dry ice or frozen gel packs. It wasn't cold even though the label said "keep refrigerated." Because it is smoked, will that make it safe?"
A. Poultry and hams are smoked for flavor, not preservation. The only exceptions are country hams and dry sausages which are safe at room temperature because of their high salt content and dryness. If a product is labeled "keep refrigerated," that's a warning that it must be kept cold to be safe. Don't eat the product. If perishable food arrives warm—above 40 °F as measured with a food thermometer—notify the company. It's the shipper's responsibility to deliver the product on time, properly packaged and handled safely; the customer's responsibility is to have someone at home to receive it and refrigerate it immediately.
Q. “What should I do? I put a 20 lb turkey in a 200 °F oven before I went to bed last night, and the pop-up timer says it's already done at 7:30 this morning. We won't be eating until 3 p.m."
A. You have two problems here. First, overnight cooking of meat at a low temperature isn't a safe method so we don't recommend eating this turkey. It's not safe to cook any meat or poultry in an oven set lower than 325 °F. At 200 °F, meat remains in the "Danger Zone" too long (between 41 and 135 °F) where bacteria multiply rapidly and can form toxins.
Secondly, holding a safely cooked turkey at a safe internal temperature of 140 °F or above for this amount of time can dry it out and affect the quality. If a safely cooked turkey must be held from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., for optimal safety and quality it should be carved and refrigerated in covered shallow containers and served cold or reheated to an internal temperature of 165 °F. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature.
Q. I baked some pumpkin pies over the weekend to serve tomorrow on Thanksgiving. They've just been sitting on the counter. Should I have refrigerated them?"
Posted by Marcia Weber at 2:29 PM