What’s in a label when shopping for that Thanksgiving turkey?

WEST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — It’s that time of year when folks shop the poultry section at grocery stores with intensity.

Their focus is going home with the turkey they want to serve on Thanksgiving. Donna Santiago scrutinizes what she sees.

“Yeah, definitely, definitely. How much sodium and everything it has in it, what’s healthy and what’s not healthy.”

There’s a variety from which to choose, all packaged up, to catch a consumer’s eye. Want something all natural?

“All natural means,” said Ellen Liskov, “That after the bird was cleaned and processed, that after that happens that there’s nothing artificial added to it.”

The registered dietitian at Yale-New Haven Hospital with Turkey 101.

Fresh, she says, means this, “According to the USDA, fresh means the poultry was never stored at a temperature under 26 degrees.”

Don’t be swayed by the ‘no added hormones’ label.

“All poultry is raised without hormones per USDA rule,” said Liskov.

No additives or preservatives, that’s no flavorings or colorings added.

“Many brands of poultry may also have no additives or preservatives. They just chose not to put it on their label as a call out to the consumer.”

So read the packaging closely. If the turkey you choose was not marked vegetarian fed. Don’t sweat it.

“It doesn’t guarantee or mean that the poultry is going to be any more flavorful or any more tender than one that was given animal by-product in the feed.”

The superstar among these birds. Hands down, the organic ones.

“Organic means there were no GMO’s used in the feed, it means there are no pesticides, no antibiotics were given. The turkey, in this case, had to be given access to the outside so they are more free range.”

And certified by the USDA, but pound per pound, it does cost more. The bottom line, you can’t go wrong with turkey.

“Poultry is considered a lean meat so as long as we are not eating all of the skin. So there’s really nothing wrong with your fresh turkey, even your frozen turkey,” said Liskov.

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