Buyer Beware: "Natural" turkey may be injected!

Chris Allingham

Administrator
Staff member
Kent,

Here's my "official statement"
about brining a self-basting turkey like a Butterball...from the Turkey Selection & Preparation article:

"Many people have brined self-basting turkeys and have reported good results. If you want to brine a turkey, I always recommend that you buy a regular turkey that is not self-basted so you have complete control over the flavor and moisture you're added to the meat. However, if you can't find a regular turkey at your supermarket, give a self-basting turkey a try."

Regards,
Chris
 

Mike David P

TVWBB All-Star
Thanks for posting this Chris. Around here, it is difficult to find a pure turkey that has not been enhanced in some way. I would like to try smoking one on the WSM sometime.
 

Kent

TVWBB Member
Originally posted by Chris Allingham:
Kent,

Here's my "official statement"
about brining a self-basting turkey like a Butterball...from the Turkey Selection & Preparation article:

"Many people have brined self-basting turkeys and have reported good results. If you want to brine a turkey, I always recommend that you buy a regular turkey that is not self-basted so you have complete control over the flavor and moisture you're added to the meat. However, if you can't find a regular turkey at your supermarket, give a self-basting turkey a try."

Regards,
Chris
Chris, in your "official statement" is:

"Butterball Turkey Tips
If you have questions about anything having to do with turkey, visit the Butterball website."

The Butterball site you refer to says you can brine the Butterball 8% water added turkeys. You, preceeding that, say you cannot. Are you in agreement with what is on the Butterball site? What is on the site is not consistent with your position about brining water added turkeys.
 

Chris Allingham

Administrator
Staff member
Kent,

I don't think I've ever written that you cannot brine an injected Butterball turkey. If you can point me to where I wrote that, please send me the URL so I can change it.

My opinion is that for best results, you should brine a non-injected turkey, for the reasons I stated above. So I do write things like:

"When buying a turkey for salting, choose a regular turkey, not a self-basted bird that's been injected with a solution of salt and other flavorings. Read the fine print on the label—you do not want a turkey that says, "Contains up to X% of a solution to enhance juiciness and tenderness..."

Having said that, I also acknowledge that many people do brine injected turkeys and they like the result. So I don't think I'm inconsistent with Butterball saying you can brine one of their turkeys.

I'm just saying that I don't do it and I don't recommend that you do it, either. But if you want to, go for it.

Clear as mud?


Regards,
Chris
 

Tony I.

New member
Odd, I got a fresh turkey from Costco. It said "All Natural" and I remember it saying that it was injected with up to five percent solution. 5% did not seem like much, so I got it.

It was not until after I started reading this and was a little worried so I looked at my bird. It says "Up to five percent water retained." I was definitely happy. Odd thing is that I went to Publix later that night and they had the same turkeys, except that they were "Injected with up to five percent solution to enhance flavor."

Definitely have to be careful.
 

tjkoko

TVWBB Pro
About a year ago at KROGER I asked the butcher about this and he shouted: "I don't know. I just cut and sell this stuff."
 

Chris Allingham

Administrator
Staff member
Here's what you want to look for, if you want a turkey that is not enhanced. Each photo is from a different brand of turkey I found at Raley's, a local supermarket chain here in Northern California. A percentage of retained water is OK and is a result of the processing process. You want to avoid ingredients like salt, spices, food starch, sodium phosphate, etc.



 

tjkoko

TVWBB Pro
On some broadcast I heard that the term "NATURAL" can mean a naturally occurring ingredient, therefore it can be added to the meat. I mean, what the h*** is this??
 

Chris Allingham

Administrator
Staff member
On some broadcast I heard that the term "NATURAL" can mean a naturally occurring ingredient, therefore it can be added to the meat. I mean, what the h*** is this??
Yes, from the original post at the top of this thread:

But I noticed that little * next to the word "natural". And sure enough, in the fine print, it says, "Contains up to 4% solution of water, salt and spices to enhance tenderness and juiciness." And that little asterisk refers to the fact that this turkey contains "no artificial ingredients".

So I run home and go to the USDA Food Safety & Inspection Service website--the definitive source for the definition of turkey terms--and low and behold, it says that natural turkey may not contain artificial flavorings, coloring ingredients, chemical preservatives, or other synthetic ingredients.

This means that a natural turkey MAY contain a solution of water, salt, and other NATURAL flavorings to enhance tenderness and juiciness. As long as your injection solution is natural, it's still a natural turkey!
 

Daniel De

New member
Really annoyed this morning.

Ordered my turkey a couple weeks ago and specifically asked the meat guy whether the 'all natural' turkeys were injected in any solution as I would be brining and needed something with no injections. He swears up and down that their all natural is just that - no solutions, nada. Of course, I open the wrapping up this morning, and there is the 3% solution right on the package.

Called the store manager this morning and he's just... 'well, I guess I'll talk to them.' Gee... thanks.
 

Chris Allingham

Administrator
Staff member
That's too bad, Daniel. But you can still brine that turkey with good success. Look on the bright side...it was only 3% and not 8% like some turkeys!

Don't stress, and good luck!
 

tjkoko

TVWBB Pro
Really annoyed this morning.

Ordered my turkey a couple weeks ago and specifically asked the meat guy whether the 'all natural' turkeys were injected in any solution as I would be brining and needed something with no injections. He swears up and down that their all natural is just that - no solutions, nada. Of course, I open the wrapping up this morning, and there is the 3% solution right on the package.

Called the store manager this morning and he's just... 'well, I guess I'll talk to them.' Gee... thanks.
Pre-soaking the bird in water just may relieve it of most of the 3% prior to your brining it.
 

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