Buyer Beware: Get the Facts
Thanksgiving is around the corner and roasted turkey is often the center piece of the traditional holiday meal. To help you prepare, ONIE has the facts on picking the best turkey for your money.
Many turkeys (fresh and frozen) are advertised as "juicy", "natural", "tender." Some may be labeled as raised by "independent farmers" with no added hormones or steroids. These words mean little. This advertising is designed to sell you a turkey. To get the best buy and a "healthier" turkey, the information you need to know is in the fine print.
Disclosed in the fine print is whether salt water has been added to the turkey—as much as 8% to 20% of the bird’s weight could be sodium-water solution. This means that a 20 lb turkey injected with 20% sodium solution is 16lbs of meat and 4lbs of water. That is some expensive water. It also means that a 4-oz serving from that same turkey could add 540mg or 23% of the daily recommended amount of sodium to your diet (2300 mg). Our undercover shopping trip revealed one brand of a fully cooked turkey had 940mg of sodium in a 3-oz serving, which is 41% of the daily recommended amount of sodium per serving.
There are healthy options and ONIE has tips to guide you through the maze of advertising ploys.
Tip #1. Selecting the bird
Step 1: Read the FINE print
The amount of solution added to the bird is on front of the package. The fine print describes the proportion of the turkey that is salt water. The amounts ranged from 4% to 20%, which is how much of the weight of bird is just water. Often it is clear that added salt is part of the “solution” but not always.
Step 2: Flip the Bird Over
The food label is located on the back of the package. Reading the label is the only way to know how much sodium has been injected into the bird.
Step 3: Reading the label
Read the nutrition label to identify how much salt has been added. There are options that do not add much salt. The label on your right is from a turkey injected with an 8% sugar and salt solution. A 20 lb. turkey injected with this solution is 18 lbs. of meet and 2 lbs. of water. As this label illustrates, a 4-oz serving from this turkey contains 190 mg of sodium, an amount similar to the number of calories (180). Using the 1 for 1 guide, this turkey is a good choice.
Another choice is choose a turkey with no added salt water. We did find some of these fresh turkeys available in local supermarkets with no added salt water. However, all frozen turkeys had added salt water.
Tip #2: Preparing a moist turkey
Even if the turkey you choose does not have added salt-water, there are several ways that you can make sure you serve a moist and tender turkey on Thanksgiving day. One way, is to soak it overnight in an apple cider and water mixture (1 part apple cider and 7 parts water). Then while cooking, baste it with apple cider. Another way is to stuff it with orange and/or lemon slices, rosemary, thyme, and a few cloves of garlic and then cook as usual (no soaking in an apple cider and water is required).
ONIE wishes you a Healthy & Happy Thanksgiving!
From the ONIE Project Team!