Cooking ground turkey to the proper temperature is a must for consumers

When cooking turkey in any form, it is important to cook it to the proper internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

In the American diet today, it is important to work on reducing the amount of saturated fats consumed. Saturated fat is the type of fat that can stay in the arteries and could possibly lead to heart disease. Saturated fat comes from animal products such as meat. When you are picking a meat to eat, it is best to pick leaner meats with less fat in them.

Turkey is considered a leaner meat and is a good option for an animal meat in your diet. Ground turkey comes in three styles including regular, lean and ground breast. Each kind has a different percentage of fat. Regular ground turkey has seven to 10 percent of fat ground into the meat. Lean ground turkey has three percent fat, and ground turkey breast has one percent fat content.

When cooking turkey in any form, it is important to cook it to the proper internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooking ground turkey to the proper internal temperature is especially important due to the bacteria that are introduced into the meat mixture. Bacteria found inside the turkey gets mixed into the ground meat during processing. Ground turkey has been shown to harbor the bacteria’s E. Coli, staphylococcus aureus, enterococcus and salmonella in studies conducted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These bacteria can lead to severe foodborne illnesses, especially in young children, older adults, and individuals with compromised immune systems.

Cooking to the proper internal temperature is important in killing these bacteria, but if left unchecked these bacteria can create toxins that are not killed by cooking. In large lots, turkeys are often given antibiotics to prevent illnesses, before they get sick. This practice can lead to resistant bacteria as well, per the FDA. As a consumer we are given different choices of ground turkey in the supermarket. On the label, if a turkey has not been treated with antibiotics, the turkey may be labeled as “organic” or “no antibiotics.” If the label says “USDA Process Verified” this means the USDA has verified the producer is doing as it claims. The term “natural” means it is minimally processed with no artificial ingredients or added color. It does not necessarily mean it is antibiotic free.

Ground turkey is a healthy animal protein choice because it offers lower fat options. Always handle any meat source with care. Keep all meat below 40 degrees Fahrenheit before you cook. Cook all meats, including ground turkey, to the proper internal temperatures. If you are concerned about the use of antibiotics in turkey, read the labels and look for words such as organic, or no antibiotics used. For more information on keeping your food safe visit the Michigan State University Extension website.

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