Let’s Talk Turkey Safety

November 18, 2009
Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Award-winning nutritionist and New York Times bestselling author.

It’s Easy to Plan a Healthy Thanksgiving.

turkey_organicWe’re talking about more than the Norman Rockwell image of the traditional holiday feast. Turkey, if it’s raised sustainably and carefully prepared, can be a good source of lean protein, packed full of cancer-fighting selenium and stress-busting B vitamins—just in case Thanksgiving get-togethers make you a little tense.

Also turkey has all that relaxing tryptophan (the amino acid your brain uses to make serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps calm you down). The amount of tryptophan in a Thanksgiving turkey dinner isn’t enough to make you sleepy. But eating too many carbs or drinking too much alcohol might.

You don’t have to be a vegetarian, though, to be concerned about how your holiday turkey is raised. Crowding any poultry into cramped spaces and not allowing them to roam about—like the wild birds that sustained the Pilgrims—makes for fatter, less healthy birds.

Even when “assembly-line” poultry is fed antibiotics, it still contains bacteria, parasites, and viruses—demanding careful handling to prevent the spread of disease. New research in the journal Cancer Causes & Control reports that workers in “factory farmed” poultry plants have higher than expected rates of cancer and other diseases.

Researchers suspect that cancer-causing viruses are transmitted during the handling and slaughter of chickens and turkeys. And environmental factors, including exposure to fumes created during processing may be to blame.

Dr. Ann Louise’s Take:

Epidemiologist Eric Johnson, MD, PhD, at the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth says these viruses pose no risk to consumers who eat properly cooked poultry. Always use a meat thermometer in the turkey (the breast needs to be 170 F) and any stuffing (165 F) you plan to serve.

Also wash your hands carefully after—as well as before—preparing any poultry! Wash all the utensils you use in hot, soapy water. Only place uncooked poultry (or other raw animal protein) on cutting boards or pans that can go in the dishwasher or that can be disinfected with a mild Clorox solution.

Speaking of pans, don’t cook your holiday (or any) meal in copper or aluminum cookware. Copper overload causes allergies, anorexia, anxiety, compulsive behavior, depression, hair loss, hyperactivity, insomnia, and a variety of skin problems. Chemicals in tap water increase the leaching of aluminum from cookware made from this metal, which has been linked to Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and other health conditions.

For a feast worthy of giving thanks, I’ll be serving antibiotic-, hormone-, and pesticide-free organic turkey from Ranch Foods Direct. Not only is Mike Callicrate’s poultry delicious, it’s sustainably raised—and good for you!

I have arranged a special offer for you to receive a discount on all of Mike’s products. Please visit the web site (www.ranchfoodsdirect.com) and then call 1-866-866-6328 to make your selection. Mike’s staff can send you a complete listing with more elaborate offerings. To qualify for the special discount, please use the code “ALG.”

Organic turkey is also a smart way to fight Thanksgiving food poisoning. Studies have shown that some 30 percent of factory-raised poultry is contaminated with salmonella. Plus more than 60 percent have campylobacter, bacteria found in fecal material.

Also serve plenty of organic fruits and veggies—hearty beets, luscious cranberries, juicy grapes, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, flavorful watercress, and winter squash. Organic foods are sweeter, juicier, and much more flavorful—with far more nutrients than conventionally grown crops.

Research at John Hopkins University that reviewed 41 different studies over 51 years has found that organic produce contains almost 30 percent more vitamin C, over 20 percent more iron, about 30 percent more magnesium, and 14 percent more phosphorus. Plus organic has 15 percent fewer harmful nitrates than non-organic produce. Clearly, you get what you pay for!

The Bottom Line
Organic is not only better for you but it’s also the safest food around—produced without herbicides and pesticides, antibiotic drugs that only increase bacterial resistance (like MRSA and other “superbugs”), synthetic hormones and other endocrine disrupters. These toxins can pack on the pounds—and not just on poultry! If you want to lose weight and keep it off, the only really effective way to do so is to eat organic.

The Fast Track Detox Diet by Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

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Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

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  1. mary lou gittleson

    At Ranch Foods Direct it states that the product is natural, it does not state organic. Am I missing something?

  2. Annie

    I went to “Friends” on this website and found Ranch Foods Direct, then clicked on “Poultry.” They have organic turkey for $3.79 a pound ( less than I’d have to pay at my local “green” grocer for an organic turkey, which is antibiotic- and hormone-free!)

  3. Patsy

    I just read that supermarket turkey can make you really sick! I’m going to order an organic turkey for Christmas!

  4. AnnLouiseGittleman

    Mary Lou: You should ask the Ranch Foods Direct people about the “organic” label. I believe this is a sticky political issue, if I am not mistaken.


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