Should food be set out on the counter to defrost? No, food defrosted at room temperature exposes it to the Temperature Danger Zone (40-140 degrees), which allows harmful bacteria to grow.
You can safely defrost food in the following ways:
Refrigerator - Defrost at temperatures of less than 40 degrees F. Be sure to date all food items you are defrosting.
Microwave - Choose the microwave defrost setting on your microwave. If you defrost in this manner, plan to cook it immediately because some of the areas might be warm and bacteria may begin to grow. Always use microwave safe containers to defrost your foods so that chemicals from foam trays or plastic wrap do not contaminate your food
Cold Water thawing - Place you food in a leak proof container and completely submerge it in cold tap water, replacing the water every 30 minutes until defrosted.