Wednesday, 04 November 2015 23:50

Thanksgiving Turkey: Fresh vs. Frozen and Safe Ways to Thaw

Treat Turkey with CitroBio fresh food washNovember is quickly getting underway and it’s almost time for Thanksgiving chefs to head to the grocery store to select the star of the show: the Thanksgiving turkey. There are two ways to purchase a turkey - fresh or frozen. Learn more about the differences below.


Frozen turkeys, those chilled at or below 0°F, are actually fresher than “fresh” turkeys. Frozen turkeys are flash-frozen immediately after being butchered, and many turkeys that are labeled as “fresh” have actually been frozen and defrosted. Turkeys that have been chilled between 0°F and 26°F can be called hard-chilled or not previously frozen. A turkey may only be labeled “fresh” if it has never been chilled below 26°F.


When ordering a fresh turkey, be sure to pick it up from the store only a day or two in advance of Thanksgiving. A fresh turkey may only last 1-2 days; be very sure to comply with the “Use By” date to avoid contamination and food poisoning.


For maximum food safety, it is preferred to thaw a frozen turkey in the refrigerator. Place the turkey in its original wrapper on a cookie sheet in the fridge. Put the turkey as far back as it will go in the refrigerator. Never defrost a turkey at room temperature. For each five pounds of turkey, 24 hours of thaw time will be required in the refrigerator (a 20 lb turkey will take 4 full days). To tell if your turkey is thawed, use a digital-read food thermometer - you want a 40-45°F reading throughout.

If you have forgotten to place your turkey in the refrigerator to thaw, there is a speedy method to defrost the bird - by immersing in cold water in its original wrapping. The water must be changed once the water temperature reaches 40-45°F, or every 20-30 minutes. It will take 30 minutes per pound (approximately) to thaw the turkey, and it must be cooked immediately following this thawing method.

Food Safety

In addition to safely thawing, remember to use all basic food safety practices when handling raw turkey.  Using CitroBio Fresh Food Wash when safely thawing and preparing Thanksgiving turkey controls bacteria, as well as extends the shelf life of fresh turkey. There is no need to rinse after applying CitroBio. CitroBio Fresh Food Wash does not alter the taste, appearance, or smell of turkey. It can also be used to clean kitchen utensils and cooking surfaces to reduce the threat of cross-contamination throughout the Thanksgiving meal preparation and cleanup. Click here to order CitroBio Fresh Food Wash for home use.

Read CitroBio’s turkey study and how Diestel Turkey is using CitroBio in its processing plants.

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