After cooking a turkey, I noticed that the bones look red. Is this because it is a young turkey?

Small and Backyard Flocks, Food Safety July 13, 2013 Print Friendly and PDF

While consumers have been conditioned to think of pink meat as undercooked, the color of cooked poultry is not always a sure sign of its safety. For example, the meat of smoked turkey is always pink. Cooked turkey can remain pink even after cooking to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F.

According to the USDA, pink meat is common with young turkeys. Young turkeys (and chickens) have porous immature bones, which may allow red pigmentation (hemoglobin) to leach out into the meat. Smoking and grilling can also cause this reaction. If the bird is fully cooked (internal temperature of 180°F and juices that run clear), although the meat around the bones may still be pink, it is safe to eat.

Reference: Is Pink Turkey Meat Safe? USDA Fact Sheet.


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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.