Ground Turkey and Meat / Food Safety

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Dear Home Ec 101,

We want to start using ground turkey instead of ground beef. There is a fantastic sale on Jennie-O ground turkey, but I know they had a recall last year due to salmonella poisoning. If we cook the meat to the right temperature, and wash our hands well after handling the raw meat, should we be safe eating it?

I also noticed that the recall was announced in June 2011, but the meat it applied to had a sell by date of December 2011. I had no idea meat was sitting around for that long. I’m just curious if they freeze it or if it can really be safe for that long? I’ve never purchased meat that had a sell by date 6 months out.

I was the turkey all along!*

Heather says:

Washing your hands and cooking ground turkey to 165°F is exactly the right procedure to prevent food poisoning.

Don’t forget to thoroughly clean any surfaces which come into contact with raw meat products. Just don’t forget that sanitizing is a two step process.

I spent some time researching the Jennie-O Ground Turkey recall and the recall applied to frozen ground turkey patties. The reason the ground turkey had such a long sell-by time was the product was frozen, not fresh.

Freezing food does not necessarily kill bacteria.  Typically freezing a food just keeps the bacteria from multiplying, while refrigerating simply slows the bacterial growth rate.

Here are some previous Home Ec 101 posts on Freezer Safety:

How to Freeze Food (part 1)

How to Freeze Food (part 2)

How to Cook Homemade Frozen Foods

Food Safety and the Deep Freeze

Can you put hot food into the refrigerator?

I hope these articles help you feel confident in avoiding food poisoning in your home kitchen.

*You win one Internetz if you can tell me where I got this quote?

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2 thoughts on “Ground Turkey and Meat / Food Safety”

  1. It’s ME.  I was the turkey all along! – Gir from Invader Zim 🙂  My husband and I randomly “shout” that at one another when we hear someone say the phrase, “It’s me”.
    I thought I loved your blog before, but things have just gotten waaaay more serious!


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