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Nov 15, 2011 06:37 AM

My DH won't buy a Trader Joe's fresh turkey. Please discuss!

I know this subject has been beaten like the proverbial dead horse (turkey?) but I want chowhound yays/nays and input. specific to this issue.

DH feels that birds slaughtered WEEKS before the 'use by' dates are bacteria and quality time bombs.

Perusing past chowhound threads assures me that TJs birds are pre-brined (or kosher dry brined) and kept at cooler temps so both help safely conserve the bird. Besides, they wouldn't sell and the lawyers would be very happy if there were truly a problem. I have only seen ONE chow bad bird post.

He is OK with a frozen supermarket free bird....he spatchkocks it and smokes it. We're not having a huge group so size isn't an issue.

THANKS for all replies!

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  1. The definition of 'fresh' and other questions answered:

    It sounds that he just doesn't want to purchase a bird. Many discussions on CH going on with most stating it is all in the preparation. Does the free, frozen, spatchcocked, smoked bird taste good? Go with it.

    1. In my experience, all of the meat I have bought from TJ's was about to go bad. However in general, meat is sealed in plastic and shipped to retailers, who then butcher it. Not sure how long they are kept like this, but it definitely prolongs the "use by" date.

      1. Supermarket fresh turkeys are slaughtered two weeks before Thanksgiving. In the past it was three weeks.

        You husband is correct in a sense. The frozen bird is fresher. It is frozen shortly after slaughter.

        Unless you buy a fresh turkey from a local farm that says when the bird is done in, that is just the way it is.

        1 Reply
        1. re: rworange

          Personally, I've always preferred a fresh turkey to a frozen bird precisely because it had had some time to "cure". I long for the days in the 70s when you could get a genuinely fresh turkey that had not been taken to 1˚ above frozen.

          I promise you they were infinitely superior in flavor and no one ever dropped dead eating them.

        2. Can't tell you anything about TJ's birds, but fresh turkeys have been available for Thanksgiving for several decades (and maybe before that) and I've never heard about anyone getting sick from one.

          1. Thanks guys.

            Cathy, I sent him the link. He pointed out:

            "Is there an increased microbiological safety risk associated with raw poultry that is maintained at 26 °F?
            No. The National Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Criteria for Foods, as well as several scientific organizations, agreed that there is no increased microbiological risk associated with raw product maintained at 40 °F or below. " ===> DH asked - for how long? He doesn't agree with the 'use by' date.

            He also cut/pasted this snippet: "At home, immediately place fresh raw poultry in a refrigerator that maintains 40 °F or below and use it within 1 to 2 days"


            We'll probably go with the frozen bird because he wants CHEAP. And he does prepare a very, very good turkey.

            5 Replies
            1. re: leetmom7

              Bet he's a guy who won't eat cookie dough or ice cream with uncooked eggs too. Some people are like that... ;>

              1. re: rainey

                Or Caesar Salad with egg yolk, or egg nog...sigh...
                Its interesting...I dry age our annual standing rib roast uncovered in our basement fridge for a good week. Its in a fridge where we don't open the door much at all, as in once every few days for a couple of seconds. I know its beef, but still. Now, one butcher I use says you're going to DIE. Cooks magazine says its OK. Sometimes its easier to err on the side of OCD bug phobia. But next time you go to the movies, ask him what the thinks is on the movie seat, and if he washed his hands with the proper technique before he makes dinner...sigh

              2. re: leetmom7

                I can identify with preferring the cheaper option. I may not think the Trader Joe's fresh turkeys are "bacteria and quality time bombs", but I tend to assume that any difference in quality probably isn't worth the price difference.

                1. re: leetmom7

                  If he makes a very, very good turkey without spending a small fortune on a turkey, why exactly do you want a "fresh" bird?

                  1. re: leetmom7

                    I think the problem with 'fresh' turkeys is by definition they can be transported and held at 26degrees; below freezing, so ice crystals form in the flesh as they fluxuate in temp - even slightly - as they are moved, handled, and put in the case. They oooooze water (even if a brined fresh kosher turkey), so a frozen bird has far less issues with bruising, fluid loss, etc. usually resulting in a juicier turkey. Not so much about health risks, as the 26 degrees takes care of that issue - mostly, a frozen bird - just as flash-frozen expensive columbia river salmon is better than fresh - because the 'fresh' quality of frozen keeps all the qualities intact, until you thaw and prep and cook.