That Frozen Butterball Turkey You Just Bought Was Most Likely Frozen a Long, Long Time Ago

And that "fresh" turkey you bought from the grocery store was probably frozen and defrosted.

Photo: Liz Barclay

Photo: Liz Barclay

CBS DC recently interviewed Butterball CEO Rod Brenneman. The CEO tells CBS that he eats turkey at least once every day, in the form of turkey sausage, turkey medallions on salad, and roast turkey and gravy.

Brenneman also reveals extremely interesting Butterball facts, like Butterball turkeys are frozen throughout the year, so your turkey could have been frozen three, four months ago. Brenneman says,

“Ten months out of the year we’re producing whole turkeys and freezing them. Those are the frozen birds that you’re buying (for Thanksgiving).

They’re frozen throughout the year. It could’ve been a month ago. It could’ve been three or four months ago.”

We know that refrigeration is an age-old preservation method, and the U.S.D.A.’s Food Safety and Inspection Service says that “poultry, uncooked, whole” should keep well for up to 12 months. But why would you want to eat a 12-month-old bird when you could roast a fresh bird on Thanksgiving instead?

But then there’s the whole issue of whether your ”fresh turkey” is really fresh, or whether it is the pseudo-fresh variety. Supermarket turkeys are allowed to be called “fresh” by the U.S.D.A. even if the bird is chilled down to below freezing point (anything above 26 degrees Fahrenheit will fly), then defrosted. Just like with your frozen turkey, this impostor fresh turkey might just not taste all that “fresh.” The ice crystals will do their job, freezing, defrosting, and refreezing, poking holes in the cell membranes of the turkey flesh, and letting out a substantial amount of fluid.

If you want actual fresh turkey that’s never been frozen, there are a ton of fantastic butcher shops around the country that break down the freshest, most naturally-raised animals available. Here’s a list of “The 10 Best New-School Butcher Shops in America.” We also love Dickson’s Farmstand Meats in NYC’s Chelsea Market and McCall’s Meat & Fish Company in Los Angeles.

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