Posted: November 26th, 2008 - 8:46pm by Ben Chapman
Being a food safety nerd, I’ve had a lot of fun developing food safety infosheets over the past 5 years. The idea behind the infosheets is to take stories, add some humour/shock/kitch and generate dialogue around food safety.
The turkey food safety infosheet is generating a lot of interest. I’m no Sarah Palin, but most responses have been from over-eager gotcha folks who are pointing out what appears to them to be serious food safety errors (especially around thawing, stuffing and cooling leftovers). Some have been nice; others, not so much.
Our focus in building the food safety infosheets is to provide practices based on the best available science. And sometimes what the FDA Food Code, USDA FSIS consumer education and published peer-reviewed articles say around food safety practices differ.
We base the food safety infosheets on the best available science, not jurisdictional regulation. It’s our way of being consistent because recommendations changes so much from location to location (Canada and the U.S. recommend two different temperatures for endpoint temp for poultry: 165F in the U.S., and 180F in Canada -- both countries apparently looking at the same data).
People seem to get especially antsy when we disagree with the regulators. Everything we put in "what you can do" section of the food safety infosheets has to have references to back it up (which sometimes the regulatory recommendations do not).
Here are the references for the 3 recommendations folks have mentioned the most (thawing, cooking stuffing to 150F and cooling leftovers)
Thawing on the counter:
Lacroix BJ, Li KW, Powell DA. 2003. Consumer food handling recommendations: is thawing of turkey a food safety issue? Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research, 64(2): 59-61. (this whole paper can be found at the bottom of this post)
Lee M. 1993. Methods and risks of defrosting turkeys. Environmental Health Review (Winter):96-100.
OP Snyder, 1999. Thawing at ambient temperature on the counter. Hospitality Institute of Technology and Management, St. Paul, MN USA.
The 150F recommendation is based on a 6-7 log reduction of salmonella in stuffing at 140F for 12.7 min (pathogen destruction is time/temperature, and it will take that long to take the stuffing from 140-150. Pete Snyder's Turkey HACCP document explains it well (second paragraph on page 2).
From the doc:
As expected, no salmonellae or staphylococci was recovered. They were killed above 130°F as the turkey was cooking. Actually, if the stuffing had been sampled at 140 to 150°F, they would have found that these organisms would be dead, considering that 140°F for 12.7 minutes gives a 7D reduction of Salmonella in beef.
Turkey should be refrigerated within 2 -- and continuously cooled reaching 41F within 15 hours. Pete Snyder also has a referenced cooling paper that explains this well.
from the doc:
In 1992, this author received an agreement from Ray Beaulieu and Jeffery Rhodehamel at the FDA that there was indeed no scientific basis for the FDA retail food cooling regimes, and that it was appropriate to do a study. With the help of Dr. Vijay K. Juneja, USDA ARS ERRC, a study was conducted using hamburger as the food item and C. perfringens as the target organism (Juneja, 1994). Clostridium perfringens was selected, because, of the three spores, C.perfringens has the shortest lag and fastest generation time.
Hamburger was selected as the media, because C. perfringens is found in hamburger, and hamburger has often been involved in C. perfringens outbreaks. Various cooling times were evaluated in order to determine the safe cooling time. One cooling time chosen arbitrarily was 15 hours to go from 130 to 45ºF, with a 38ºF temperature of coolant, in this case, air in the refrigerator. The 15-hour cooling time showed about 3 multiplications of C. perfringens. The USDA has accepted this cooling time as safe (Federal Register, January 6, 1999), because it now accepts cooling when there are 3 or less multiplications of C.perfringens.
As I replied to one interested subscriber, here are our references, show us yours.