how long does turkey last

When handling turkey--defrosting it, storing it, baking it, or reheating leftovers—mistakes can be serious. Consumers must not only concern themselves with spoilage (which can affect taste and smell), but also with pathogens that can result in serious illness. It pays to become knowledgeable about safe ways to deal with this popular crowd-pleaser.

Note: It's important to cook poultry to an internal temperature of 165 degrees to kill the bacteria likely to reside in the product.  The bacterium campylobacter (usually transmitted by poultry) is the most common cause of bacterial gastroenteritis in the U.S.  It causes millions of cases of diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps every year.  


But safety is not the only consideration.  Taste, texture, and appearance are also concerns of poultry chefs.  To eliminate a rubbery texture and pink juices, it's advisable to cook white (breast) meat to 170 degrees F and dark (thigh and leg) meat to 180 degrees F.  It will taste better to diners if it's easy to chew and attractive to view.  


Susan Brewer, Ph.D, University of Illinois, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition.



Turkey Shelf Life
Turkey Giblets 1-2 days3-4 months
Turkey Stuffing, cooked3-4 days1 month
Turkey Salads, homemade or store prepared3-5 days- -
Turkey Stews1-2 days6 months
Frozen Turkey Parts1-2 days6-9 months
Fresh Turkey1-2 days1 year
Cooked Turkey2-3 days4-6 months
Ground Turkey1-2 days3-4 months
"Meat & Poultry." S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc., 2011. Web. 23 Jun 2011. <http://www.ziploc.com/ShelfLife/Pages/ShelfLifeHome.aspx>.

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