The Legalities Of Turkey Labeling

file photo (credit: Joe Biafore/Getty Images)

file photo (credit: Joe Biafore/Getty Images)

feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Please pass the chemical free hormone free turkey. I think?

For the first time in its history, Butterball has announced that it will hire men to answer the phones on its Turkey Talk Line, a phone service designed to offer advice to overwhelmed Thanksgiving hosts.

All those hired have to take a course in turkey making at the Butterball University training program. How’s that for a resume builder?

But here’s what you need to know before you bring home that bird: the USDA has guidelines on what the labels on the poultry you’re buying mean, and they are important. Some terms you’ll see on the label sound good but mean nothing.

For example, hormone free. Who wants a hormonal turkey? No one. It’s illegal to use hormones when raising chickens so they’re all hormone free.

Same for chemical free, illegal to use. Don’t pay more for it on a label. Free range sounds good but it only means that turkeys had access to the outside, no requirement of when and for how long.

Other terms sound like nothing but are important. Basted or self-basted on a label means it’s been injected or marinated with a solution containing butter or other fat, broth, stock or water and flavor enhancers.

To add your own flavors, you can call the hotline.

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