Viewers ask,”Is a turkey safe to eat when the meat is pink?”

The key indication of doneness for a turkey is the temperature, NOT the color of the meat. I got several comments from viewers about the Thanksgiving show I did for “Sara’s Weeknight Meals” regarding the doneness of the turkey. The viewers’ concern was that it looked pink, even red in spots and therefore must be underdone, not cooked through. In fact, the turkey was indeed cooked through, we took its temperature in the thickest part to the leg/thigh joint before we started the segment to make sure it had reached the required 165°F and had let the bird rest after we took it out of the oven for 30 minutes to let the temperature come up a bit more.

The reason the bird still looked pink/red in spots is explained by the USDA in this attachment. Note especially paragraph 5 where they say, “The color of cooked poultry is not always a sure sign of its safety. Only by using a food thermometer can one accurately determine that poultry has reached a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F throughout the product. Turkey can remain pink even after cooking to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F. The meat of smoked turkey is always pink.”





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