There are many good reasons to buy a vacuum-sealed turkey. One of them is the longer fridge life of vacuum-sealed food compared to unsealed food products. However, we still need to ensure that the turkey is edible and doesn’t contain bacteria that can result in serious harm, such as food poisoning.
Vacuum sealed turkey can last in the fridge for 6 to 7 days as long as the temperature is below 40 F. The vacuum sealing process removes most of the oxygen in which bacteria thrive. Still, one should be aware that some bacteria grow without oxygen, even in a vacuum-sealed package.
Let’s explore this and make sure that we can identify when we should discard vacuum-sealed turkey. The vital safety issues we need to be aware of extend to the purchase, storage, and cooking of turkey and will also be covered.
How Does Vacuum Sealing Extend The Fridge-life Of Turkey?
During vacuum packaging or sealing, most of the air within a package of turkey is removed. No other gas mixture replaces the oxygen, and the package is sealed to make it airtight. Air has moisture that allows fungi and bacteria to thrive.
By removing the air, moisture and oxygen levels are decreased, so the turkey’s rate deteriorates is reduced.
It’s recommended that vacuum-sealed turkey is unsealed and cooked within 6 – 7 days after purchase and refrigeration.
Although sealing will limit the growth of bacteria that spoils poultry, there is a type of bacteria that can grow even where there is no oxygen and can create harmful toxins at 37, 4°F (3°C) above.
How To Check If Turkey Is Edible
No one wants to eat turkey that’s “off,” which will put one at risk of food poisoning.
The color of fresh raw turkey is pale white, light pink, or cream. A change in skin color indicates that the turkey has lost its freshness. For example, the skin may turn a dull gray. If the color darkens, your turkey is spoiled and must be discarded.
The smell of raw turkey is also an indicator of freshness. Fresh turkey has a mild odor similar to chicken. It may have started to go off if you notice a pungent smell. A rotten egg smell, or a “gamey” smell, is a sign to discard your turkey.
Note that there might be a slight smell when you first open the vacuum-sealed package. This is called “confinement odor” and is a result of the process of vacuum sealing. After a few minutes, the smell will be gone if the turkey is suitable for consumption.
Butchers say: “If in doubt, throw it out!” So if you’re not sure that the turkey is safe to eat, it’s best to throw it away rather than risk food poisoning.
Finally, the skin’s texture should be noted: if raw turkey meat becomes slimy, get rid of it at once. Slime indicates increased activity of bacteria, and you could become seriously ill if you cook and eat turkey with this indicator of rot.
It’s also essential that you wash everything that has come into contact with the slimy turkey thoroughly to avoid the possibility of infection.
What Color Should Cooked Turkey Be?
The United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS) states that cooked poultry can vary from white to pink to tan. Therefore, they recommend using a food thermometer to check the temperature of cooked turkey.
For a whole turkey, they recommend that you should “check the internal temperature of the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast.” If all parts of the bird reach at least 165 °F, the meat is safe to eat, even if any of it remains pink.
The pink color is “due to hemoglobin in tissues.” You may also find this occurring when you smoke or grill a turkey.
Most of us enjoy a delicious stuffing with roast turkey, but stuffing should be cooked with care. It’s safest to cook the stuffing outside of the bird. If the whole turkey is to be stuffed. Ensure that the center of the stuffing also registers a temperature of at least 165 °F. As with all roasts, let the turkey rest for 20 minutes before removing the stuffing and carving.
What Is The Safest Way To Purchase And Store Turkey?
Check that the turkey you select in the shop has not reached its “sell-by” date. According to the USDA, the “‘Use-By’ date is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality.
The manufacturer of the product has determined the date. That said, retailers are legally allowed to sell processed or fresh poultry and meat after the expiration date on the package, as long as the product is wholesome.”
The “cold chain” ensures that turkey is kept cold when distributed to retail stores. The cold temperature helps to prevent or slow the growth of bacteria. It’s best to head home straight after buying your turkey. Upon arriving home, ensure that you immediately put your turkey products in a refrigerator that maintains 40 °F or below or freeze the turkey at 0 °F.
Correctly selected and stored vacuum-sealed turkey is a great way to prolong the fridge life of the turkey. As long as it’s kept at the correct temperature in your fridge, it should be good for 6 to 7 seven days.
Check the color, smell, and texture when removing it from the packaging, cook it correctly, and you’re ready for a feast!