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Oct 25, 2012 07:24 PM

Empire Turkeys

Has anyone checked out the price of Empire Turkeys? Shoprite is asking $3.29. I don't remember it ever being that expensive.

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  1. The going rate I'm aware of in DC is COSTCO a bit less than $3.00 per pound,SUPER MARKETS $2.99 on sale,$4.00 or more regular price.
    The meat,butcher manager friend near me had two that were pre paid ,to be thawed for,by a customer that either forgot or changed her mind.He let me have both for $5.00.I cooked them yesterday,same day,tasty but I am really PISSED about the pathetic,sloppy processing!!!! Enough so I sent an email...with pictures.Why under this much supervision,at this price DID I HAVE TO SPEND MORE THAN 45 MINUTES removing FEATHERS,quill backs you can write with in nearly set cement.I stopped counting at 65,about half.A few pin feathers OK,one or two quills OK,not this.I only paid $2.50 per bird,but what about the person that ALREADY PAID FULL PRICE!!

    19 Replies
    1. re: lcool

      Amen. I am so tired of hearing those lame excuses that kosher fowl cannot be cleaned properly because of the kashering process. If that were true there would never be a well cleaned chicken for sale, but sometimes I catch a break because I get one that's in reasonable condition. Even at the butcher I see differences between chickens, particularly different suppliers.
      It's awful. I worry that one day a chicken will wake up and fly right out of the sink.
      I'm fortunate enough to have a cleaning lady/housekeeper (not Jewish) a couple of times a week. Sometimes I've "pre-cleaned" the ckickens a bit because I'm embarrassed for her to think that's what kosher standards are about.

      1. re: helou

        It is not just the feathers/quills, I have also found that the empire turkeys have tremendous amounts of useless skin and fat stuffed in cavities. I was also told by butcher that empire(and probably other suppliers) injects turkeys/chicken with water to raise weight. There must be something halachically wrong with this!

        1. re: MiriamRochel

          I shall be replying,below to zsero.That reply will include what my reply to you would have been.

        2. re: helou

          I haven't purchased an Empire chicken in years. They'd make me gag when I had to do the work you're describing. I'm fortunate to live in Los Angeles where I market at Doheny Kosher Butcher. When I order a chicken or turkey they simply take it over to a torch that burns all the quills off. It's simple and clean and I have never understood how any butcher would not do the same.

          1. re: latindancer

            Nor I
            My thinking with Empire is just established market ARROGANCE.It is easy to NOT CARE or respond when you sell out to a captive consumer,so damned insulting.

        3. re: lcool

          How else would you know that it is a kosher turkey?! My mother, A"H, used to say it was to help keep you warm in the winter.

          I think that this is how the boneless / skinless craze started. It is easier to just take off the skin rather than fighting with all the feathers.

          1. re: chicago maven

            If they had customers to respond to,THEY WOULD RESPOND.Instead they take advantage of a consumer they are holding HOSTAGE.Birds poorly processed like these two were is simply
            CHEAP,LAZY,IRRESPONSIBLE and completely undignified.To claim supervision and standards and then excuse away SUB-STANDARD processing with "kashering" is to lower the ethical bar below insulting.

            1. re: lcool

              So, advise us. What have you done to facilitate a change?

              1. re: queenscook

                I have no advice beyond ; if many consumers complain,in earnest things change.Does not matter what the product is.
                As a small producer of live stock and a Jew I would be ashamed to have that poor a bird,
                AND I WOULD HAVE NO CUSTOMERS.My processor is humane and sanitary,nothing comes out with sloppy cuts on the skin,enough feathers to fill a whisky glass,no giblets etc.
                This isn't the only example I have,MEAT GLUE ,transglutanimase is being used and not declared.Where is the so called higher standard the marks,certification represent? In the past ten years I have seen a real decline,not just poultry and in the past three have been emailing the various governing groups,often with pictures and lab reports!!! If people continue to pay without complaint the producers have no reason what so ever to improve.
                Old post,thread,what kind of restaurant do you think we are missing and or you would open.My response was Kosher or Vegan or both that were in no way an insult to food or a hostage,captive consumer.

                1. re: lcool

                  Interesting comments. I have had in the past empire turkeys (twice!) that had a drumstick only semi attached. Should have reported it to Empire.

                  1. re: joaniesl

                    2 years ago, I bought an Empire turkey in Shoprite for Thanksgiving. I paid full price, and it was a large bird. After defrosting, when I took the wrapper off, it had only one wing! That's right, it was a "deformed bird". I did not see anyplace where there was a cut in the skin which there would've been if the wing fell off or was cut. I called Empire to report it, since I was cooking for a large family, and it was "ugly" and also people like the wing. Customer Service did nothing! It was like they didn't care at all! I guess they feel that we don't have many choices so they can get away with not caring? Really a horrible way to treat customers who have been loyal for years. We were so disappointed. Last year and this year, I'm just making turkey breasts, not full turkeys. I don't trust it.

                    1. re: barbgail61

                      My experience,recent as stated in this thread and others in the past are in complete agreement with your assessment.Empire does not care.Trust at this point would be a long shot when even the "certifying" group is silent when queried.
                      You clearly didn't get the farm to table bird both groups lay claim to any more than I did.

                  2. re: lcool

                    What's treif about meat glue? Why would you expect a higher standard not to allow it?

                    The reason kosher birds have feathers is because they cannot be soaked in hot water before plucking, so the machine plucking isn't that efficient. To get it really clean they would have to hire people to pluck by hand, and that would raise the price. Canadian birds are required by law to be clean, so they do it by hand, and they are indeed more expensive. Empire does them only by machine, so they're cheaper, but the machine CANNOT do a complete job.

                    Treife chickens are washed in hot water before machine-plucking, so all the feathers come out, but they also get salmonella in this bath.

                    1. re: zsero

                      I spend a lot of time in Toronto, and have noticed the chickens are much cleaner. However, the prices are extremely expensive, almost double what you can find in the NY/NJ area.
                      I guess for some people that is worth it. I prefer to pay half the price and spend a few minutes cleaning it. My wife does not like cleaning chickens, and I dont find it a big deal

                      1. re: njkosher

                        Canadian poultry regulations mandate that, "All hair, feathers, dirt, scurf, etc., must be completely removed and the carcass thoroughly washed prior to any further incision being made." US poultry regulations are more lax.

                        That is why Canadian kosher poultry brands (like Marvid) are much much cleaner than US kosher poultry brands, and why they can be more expensive due to the extra handling required.

                      2. re: zsero

                        Good Morning zsero,sincerely hoping you are not in a location devastated by hurricane Sandy
                        replies and answers in your paragraph order.
                        #1 meat glue,I DID NOT SAY there is anything WRONG with it.I did state,complain about the lack of transparency!!Which I will address here.
                        Ok there is only ONE botanical source as recently as 30 October,they have had so much bad press for 24 months now that they hide.If the Kosher product is fully supervised,why do they appear to be hiding also.If ALL in this food chain is 100% OK,Kosher and SUPERVISED where is the LABEL DECLARATION?Why can't the average person,consumer make any contact AT ALL?Secrecy here is problematic,at least for me.All ingredients should be listed.The recent "PINK SLIME" CONTROVERSY should be a educational lesson to all.If "pink slime" is a JUST FINE ingredient,product etc,BE PROUD,list it,don't hide it.

                        #2 PLUCKING and MACHINES ,"CANNOT do a complete job"
                        Your argument is 98% BUNK. The machines,well maintained etc have been have been able to do a SUPERB job on dry birds,DUCKS,GEESE,TURKEYS etc since the 1970's,with little or no handwork required.I know this first hand with my ducks,geese,capons etc at a very carefully selected small processor.

                        #3 SALMONELLA statements
                        Your sentence as written,IS RECKLESS,perhaps not intended.Salmonella is ubiquitous the world over,not just poultry.This fact,risk is dealt with by cooking to an internal temperature of 140*f for X amount of time,or attain 160*f+.EVEN Kosher birds,Empire or not.

                        My notes old and new about processing the two original birds and one since.
                        One 5" slit on the breast skin,inexcusable,NOT OK.Two,not proper trim on the "parson's nose" tail,SLOPPY and one a hen,that is too easy to get right,again NOT OK.All three birds,all six wing tips,atrocious trimming,all different as if six blind 4 year olds did one wing each.Take,cut with care 90% of the wing tip and the just preposterous work I experienced goes away.As does nearly 70% of the shoddy feather.
                        Now to the ECONOMIC $$$$ argument,issue.
                        3 birds,"giblets maybe missing" on the wrap.3 birds,giblets NON EXISTENT and more than 50% of each neck. All of this was sold AT FULL MARKET PRICE to the by product commercial after market,broth,pet food etc.People who purchase these birds can't within reason make gravy.Dietary law no exception,many delicious,wonderful gravies can be made without gluten or dairy.

                        My two bonanza birds =29.3# for $5.00 and one 13.6# at $2.49 per# resulting in less than $1.00 per# is great.I did get more than I paid for,but not by much.Consumers that are hit by $4.00 or more per# should give pause,wonder and COMPLAIN,and be very skeptical regarding most economic arguments.I took the time twice in the past 6 days to peruse with great care a case full of Empire small birds,chickens and cornish hens,all in clear,not opaque wrap,priced competitively.None of the processing complaints were visible.Gives notice to weak arguments regarding feathers and $$$.

                        This sort of toe into the hall of shame,arrogance and hypocrisy is a beneficial win,win for me,a GOOD... Kosher bird would be my biggest competitor.NO MORE I pre book and sell all of mine,with a 30% wait list.Granted as a tiny carriage trade producer,all the rage now it's not too hard to establish a client,customer base.Stories like this,not just mine make it so much easier,sad.

                        1. re: lcool

                          I really wish I could comprehend what you wrote. I'm sure it was enlightening.

                          1. re: pitagirl

                            Read alone it can't make a bit of sense,too much context missing.However I think it does if you read all replies,from the top in their bounce around order.If context is still missing,my apologies.

              2. re: lcool

                I bought one this year because I was lazy about brining it myself, but never again, same reaction, covered with feathers and quills. YECH.

              3. I think Fresh direct is $3.99/ lb.
                Butcher on ave P is $3.49/lb.
                I will check Fischer tomorrow if they're open.

                1. $2.49 a lb at Shop and Stop and Costco in lawrence ny

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: berel

                    Trader Joe has birds at $2.49/lb. They are fresh and under ou supervision. They have been in the store a few days. They have a marked expiration date of 11/24. Perhaps someone can tell me how long fresh turkeys remain fresh after they are schechted

                    1. re: jeffrosenbaum

                      curious which trader joes, would love to get their turkey,

                      1. re: shoelace

                        Trader Joes has them listed in their flyer as limited supply. We went one night and they were out, asked the guy if he had any more, and he said new batch coming in the morning, which they did. Suggest you call 1st. btw, this was the Hewlwtt location...

                  2. KeyFoods in woodmere is charging $1.99/lb w/additional purchase of $50 - regular $2.99


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: MartyB

                      I was lucky again this year. I was in Leominster, MA visiting my sister and BIL and stopped in the Local Shaw's supermarket. Last year I scooped up Empire turkeys and roasting chickens (frozen) at 99 cents per pound (seemed they priced them the same as treif. This year there were 8 turkeys and 12 roasting chickens in the freezer case all 79 cents per pound. I took them all, gave 2 turkeys and 4 chickens to my sister and brought the rest home to my freezer.

                      Won't be using them for Thanksgiving, as I ordered a fresh turkey from a local farmer and it will be schect Tuesday along with some other poultry I ordered.

                    2. Trader Joes fresh kosher Turkey is $2.50 a lb----they are empire with a TJ label.They have them at Court street.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: joebenjamin

                        Saw them today at court st store. They had a lot of turkeys in the $35 range.