Food Safety Issues/Ground turkey packaging


Hello, Carl! The only way I can get ground turkey is in special sealed packages that are delivered to the store from the poultry processor - the local store butcher does not package them. These packages are a styrofoam tray with a fairly thick layer of clear plastic wrap over the top, and sealed on the edges. The clear plastic has a strip of color with the brand name and contents across it. Packaged this way, the turkey has a use by date sometimes two or more weeks away. Recently I got a package where the colored portion of the plastic wrap had been abraded away (maybe from packages stacked and rubbing on each other in transport) - but this actually had torn through in a tiny area (like 3-4 mm). So I did not use it - because ground turkey is to be used in one-two days of opening, and I know the same packages often sit in my store for over a week. But now that I am aware of it, I notice abrasion on a lot of packages, and a tiny tear might easily go unnoticed. So - what is the danger of a tiny tear? Is it just something I would be able to smell, like spoilage? I have learned there is some odorless bacteria that can make you sick - could the meat have that kind of bacteria? I am trying to decide how picky to be when purchasing it and how to handle it if I should get home with another package with a tear. Thanks for any advice!

The risk from a tear would be bacteria associated with spoilage. Pathogenic (disease causing) bacteria is not airborne so the risk would be very very low. I have never heard of food poisoning caused from a tiny hole in the packaging. The cooking process would kill any bacteria so that is also a reason I don't think you need to be concerned. Great question Karen.  

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Carl LaFrate


I can answer food safety questions relative to food processing, retail food and food salvage after a catastrophic event such as a hurricane, flood, ammonia leak or fire. Questions related to HACCP, Regulatory, GFSI, SQF, BRC, liability issues, contamination events, pest infestation, pest control methodology,food safety defense, pathogen prevention such as L. Monocytogenes control in food processing and retail, any subject related to food safety including at home issues.


30 years experience as a food safety consultant working for the top food processors, food retailers and insurance companies that write liability policies related to food processing, storage and distribution. My firm employees 6 full time food safety auditors. I work for top law firms throughout the USA and am a staff consultant for Douglas Peterson and Associates, one of the top forensic engineering firms in the world. I also work with Risk Solutions International, a global leader in risk management.

New York State Association for Food Protection, past president, executive board Central Atlantic States Association of Food and Drug Officials

Progressive Grocer Magazine Smart Money Magazine Private Label Buyer Magazine Supermarket News Natural Foods Merchandiser Magazine Food Service Director Magazine NYS Association for Food Protection Annual Report NYS Association for Food Protection Newsletter

Syracuse University, Microbiology/Biology NYS College of Environmental Sciences, Plant and Environmental Biology Cornell University, Food and Dairy Processing

Awards and Honors
Wm. Hickey Award (2006), NYS Association for Food Protection, for contributions in the field of food safety and sanitation New York State Integrated Pest Management Award (2007), NYS Assoc. for Food Protection, for contributions in the filed of integrated pest management.

Past/Present Clients
Pillsbury, Agri-Mark, Associated Grocers, Beatrice Foods, Cargill, Southern Cold Storage, Quaker, Ben & Jerry’s, Delverde Pasta (Italy), New York Bakery, Cabot Cheese, Hazelwood Farms, General Mills, Price Chopper Supermarkets, P&C Supermarkets, Great American Supermarkets, Tops Markets, Big M Supermarkets, Big Bear Supermarkets, Frito-Lay Distribution Centers, IBP, Excell, Eckerd Drugs, Rite Aid Drug Stores, Fay’s Drugs, Carl’s Drugs, AWI Wholesale Food Distribution, McLane Food Distributors, Golub Food Distribution, many supermarket chains (many include large scale specialty food service operations), Burger King, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Darden Foods (Red Lobster, Olive Garden), LSG Skychefs (Germany, US), Glen Mills Schools, Cornell University, Crider Poultry, Caesar’s Palace, The Oneida Indian Nation, Taylor Meat Packing, UCB Packaging Films

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