Turkey meat served in schools is often incriminated as a vehicle of foodborne illness. Preparation practices that could contribute to outbreaks were studied in three schools. Clostridium perfringens, Staphylococcus aureus, and Salmonella were isolated from raw turkey carcasses. C. perfringens was also isolated from cooked turkey meat and from food-contact surfaces of equipment. Twenty-pound carcasses that were thawed either in a refrigerator, or in paper bags at room temperature, showed no significant opportunities for multiplication of bacteria; carcasses thawed at room temperature without bags could, however, have supported multiplication of psychrotrophic bacteria. The several days required for refrigerator-thawing is, unfortunately, more time than can always be provided in school food service schedules. All methods of baking were satisfactory. Turkey rolls took more time to reach an internal temperature of 165 F than is practicable for school food service operations. Less than half an hour was saved by baking half instead of whole turkeys. Refrigerated whole turkeys and pots of stock cooled slowly. Immersing double-plastic-bagged turkey meat and halved turkey rolls in an ice bath and slicing turkey meat onto ice-cold pans speeded cooling. Stock was chilled rapidly when half-filled five-gallon pots were set in either an ice or a running-water bath. Chilled turkey meat was reheated to 165 F in steamers, in kettles of boiling gravy, in lid-covered pans on a range, and in ovens. The ovens were slowest to bring the meat to the required temperature—often too slow to be practicable. Twenty ways to reduce risk inherent in thawing, cooking, chilling, and reheating practices are described.

This content is only available as a PDF.

Author notes

1Use of trade names is for identification purposes only and does not constitute endorsement by the U.S. Department Health, Education and Welfare or the Georgia Department of Human Resources.

2Center for Disease Control.

3Georgia Department of Human Resources.