Q: This afternoon I bought a 5 pound box of chicken nuggets . I bought them at 5:20 and at 8:30 discovered that they were sitting on the counter in my kitchen. My son had carried them in for me and forgot to put them in the freezer. When I discovered them I put them in the freezer immediately but am a bit worried about eating them. They say they are pre-cooked. When I had found them on the counter they seemed thawed but still cold. I hate to throw away such a large package of food. Do you think they will be safe to eat if I cook them thoroughly?
A: It all goes back to the 4 hour rule: foods such as chicken nuggets should not sit out at room temperature for longer than 4 hours total. So if they were colder than 41 degrees F when your son carried them into the house ( sounds like they were frozen) and they sat out at room temperature for 3 hours, they would be safe as long as you froze them immediately, and cook them soon after you remove from the freezer. Do not remove to thaw at room temperature, but cook from the frozen state. And Remember cook all poultry products to an internal temperature of 165 F for 15 seconds, to be sure they are thoroughly cooked.