Yes Virginia, you can thaw turkey on the counter

I’ve gotten more done around the house in the past two weeks than I have in the past two years. Must be the nesting hormones. Amy figures she’s had enough. Baby’s due in a few days, but Amy would rather have it out now.  My youngest daughter, Courtlynn, arrives on Thanksgiving for five days, and we hope the baby arrives then as well.

But, there’s still work to be done, and every year, it’s the same issue. We say it’s OK for people to do what they are already doing – thawing turkey on the counter – and people freak out. After all, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and their extension types insist it is never OK to thaw turkey at room temperature.

We have lots of evidence and have written about it in peer-reviewed journals. But why doesn’t USDA or FDA, with all their resources, tell people why it’s not OK to thaw poultry at room temperature instead of repeating — as my friend Marty once quipped — like a fascist calling out country line dancing instructions, that it is never OK to thaw at room temperature?

Show us the data.

Pete Snyder at the Hospitality Institute of Technology and Management in St. Paul, Minnesota, has a summary available demonstrating the safety of thawing poultry at room temperature at

My group wrote a review note on the topic a few years ago, and it is included in its entirety at

However you thaw your turkey, use a digital, tip-sensitive thermometer to ensure it has reached an internal temperature of 165F. The laws of physics are apparently different north of the 49th parallel and poultry is required to reach 180F. No one knows why the Canadian government has different advice. And they’re not telling anyone.