Food Safety Issues/ground turkey meat


I bought ground turkey meat and it says use or freeze by 9/4.  It is 9/8.  I cooked it in my spaghetti sauce.  Will it be ok to eat?

Hi Paula,

Unfortunately, poultry products are some of the most perishable food items that must be handled carefully to ensure safety.  Both turkey and chicken products are very susceptible to microbial contamination and thus require careful handling to make sure they stay safe for consumption.

One way to ensure safety of ground turkey is to always pay close attention to the best if used by date and follow it explicitly.  Waiting to use the product until 4 days past the date printed is considered risky and here's why.  Some bacteria that can cause food borne illness can produce a toxic waste product while growing that is not detectable by sight, smell or taste.  In other words, your food can look good, taste marvelous and smell divine and can still make you ill. While cooking the ground turkey would kill any live bacteria present, the waste product - if present - is not deactivated and could make you ill. Thus the recommendation to not use ground poultry past the use by date unless it is frozen on that date and then used quickly when defrosted.

I wish I could give you definite answer that your spaghetti sauce is 100% safe to consume.  But I can't, given that the turkey is 4 days past it's recommended use date.   If you choose to consume it I would definitely not serve it to children, the elderly, pregnant women or any one with a compromised immune system as these individuals are especially vulnerable to food borne illness.

This is one time that the saying "When in doubt, throw it out" should be your motto.


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Carol Schlitt


I can answer questions on home food safety, sanitation and home food preservation.


I am a former Extension educator, nutrition, wellness and food safety, having retired August 1, 2010. I am a food safety instructor for the Illinois Department of Public Health, a ServSafe Instructor/Proctor and have my own company, Safe & Savory Solutions, Inc -

National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (Past President and current Historian), St. Louis Culinary Society.

BS - University of Illinois MS - Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville

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