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Nov 22, 2009 10:22 AM

Those lying supermarkets: a rant

The supermarkets are such a bunch of bald-faced liars!

One thing in particular really irks me, and that's the way these supermarket ads, and their meat managers, claim that this or that product is "fresh!"

I bought a turkey today. I began by looking at a turkey that was advertised as "fresh", but which was still frozen solid in parts. One meat dept employee told me (perhaps speaking truth that he had not been trained not to speak) that these turkeys came in frozen, but were defrosted, thus sold as "fresh". Then he thought better of it and decided he'd better get the meat manager.

That gentleman repeated what the first had said, adding that the turkeys were "slightly frozen, chilled down to 26 degrees." When I pointed out that 26 was below 32, and thus qualified as freezing, he mentioned a couple of other brands that he said were not frozen.

I bought one of them, but when I opened the plastic, a *lot* of liquid drained out. There is only one place that liquid could have come from: it was released after this turkey was frozen (to some degree) and then defrosted.

I've noticed this before in other meat, poultry or fish products. I wish the supermarkets would be honest about this. After all, they have plenty of undiscriminating customers who don't care if a product has been frozen.

But I try to make it a policy never to buy any meat/fish/poultry product that's been frozen, because my experience has been that once you freeze them, they lost a lot of taste, compared to a never-frozen product.

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  1. The poultry processors are allowed, by the government, to freeze their product to 26 degrees and still call it "fresh." They are also required to stamp them with a sell date that is 28 days from processing. It takes about three weeks for that bird to travel from plant to grocery store shelves. Therefore, they inject the birds with brine and freeze them, to keep them from going bad during that time. The blame should be directed to the government and the processors, not the store.

    Also, I believe that all seafood, with perhaps some exceptions, are required to be frozen as to prevent people from eating parasites, since so many now are enjoying sushi and rare fish.

    4 Replies
    1. re: pitterpatter

      Here in New England, the other day I went to Shaw's supermarket, and in the fish case, some of the fish was clearly marked as formerly frozen (e.g. the tuna, some of the swordfish), while other fish was labelled "fresh" or otherwise indicated as never-frozen (e.g. farm-raised salmon or trout, some fresh-looking swordfish, some other whitefish --cod etc.)

      1. re: Howard_2

        I'll research this -- it is possible that some are except from needing to declare that they were previously frozen. That swordfish came from far away. Those boats go out to sea for three weeks, and they flash freeze on the boat, or at least pack them in ice to the point where the temp drops. As for the farm-raised salmon, that stuff is so potentially riddled with parasites that I can not imagine it has not been frozen. I'll try to get back to you with answers, as I've always wondered about this.

      2. re: pitterpatter

        I'm lucky enough to be able to eat a fair amount of fish that was swimming in the Gulf less than 48 hours ago, and unless it's headed for the sushi bar, it's usually fresh to restaurant or fishmarket and then fresh to my plate. With some of the more delicate fish like grouper or the snappers, there's a very clear drop in quality once it gets frozen.

      3. Even the local farm outside town here that raises pastured, organic turkeys sells them frozen.


          The USDA definition of fresh. The supermarket is not lying.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Cathy

            I think the bottom line here is that it's very difficult to find a turkey that has not been frozen in some form or to some degree.

            This makes me wonder about other foods that have been frozen and are sold as "fresh".

            1. re: Howard_2

              RIght. Otherwise transportation would be impossible.

              1. re: Howard_2

                I think the bottom line here is that it's very difficult to find a turkey that has not been frozen in some form or to some degree

                Unless you happen to be fortunate enough to have a Kosher turkey farm a few miles away and can get a really fresh un-frozen one. (Plainville Farms is local to me.)

            2. I think that for the majority of us, the only way to serve a totally-fresh, never-frozen turkey is to raise it in your back yard, and dispatch it with an axe shortly before preparation...and that's just not realistic.

              1 Reply
              1. re: podunkboy

                A local mom n pop takes orders for Turkeys and then gets them delivered fresh----never frozen---from the Amish farmers who raise them organically about fifty miles away. I'm getting mine tomorrow...

              2. If you don't have a local source, Williams-Sonoma sells excellent (albeit expensive) fresh turkeys.

                2 Replies
                1. re: pikawicca

                  If they are shipping from California, they are probably frozen. As the links above show, you can call a turkey "fresh" down to 26 degrees when 32 is freezing point.

                  1. re: mojoeater

                    No, these are not frozen, and never have been. I assure you that I can tell the difference. They're shipped by air, with plenty of cold packs. You'd be amazed at the advances made in shipping food in the past few years. I can get fresh oysters, crab, and fish from the Pacific Northwest and have them arrive here in the mid-west in pristine condition the next day.