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Definitions of the following terms were compiled, in part, from Standards and Labeling Policy Book (1991 edition and 1996 update) and Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) (1995 edition).

BARBECUED Applies to poultry that has been cooked over dry heat and basted with a seasoned sauce.

BARBECUED PREPARED WITH MOIST HEAT Applies to poultry that has been cooked by moist heat in a barbecue sauce.

BINDERS Substances approved for the purpose of improving texture, binding, stabilizing, extending or maintaining the shape or form of a product. See also EXTENDERS.

BREADED PRODUCTS Applies to any poultry product coated with breading or with batter and breading in an amount not to exceed 30 percent of the weight of the finished breaded product. Exceptions are turkey corn dog and pure batter coatings, which may not exceed 10 percent of the weight of the finished product.

BROTH Flavorful liquids resulting from long simmering of turkey in water.

BURGER A round shaped form made of only ground turkey meat, with no binders or extenders allowed. Seasonings and flavorings are allowed.

BUTTER BASTED Butter flavored marination added for enhanced butter flavor.

BY-PRODUCTS Includes the skin, fat, gizzard, liver, heart or any combination thereof. Label will not read "turkey by-products" but will indicate which specific by-product is included.

CHOPPED, CHUNKED, SECTIONED Chopped turkey, chunks of turkey and/or turkey sections may be formed, molded and pressed to make turkey roasts, rolls, logs, etc.

CIB ROAST Translates into Cook-in-Bag Roast, raw, boneless. Some bags are self-venting, others have to be split by the operator.

CODE DATE/USE BY Sometimes the notations are clear statements of a "use by" date. At other times, the dates may reflect codes such as the Julian calendar or other code dating systems. If unsure about the meaning of the code, ask your sales/marketing representative for clarification.

COLOR Myoglobin, which contains iron and is the storehouse for oxygen in living tissues, is the principal heme pigment influencing meat color. More myoglobin in meat produces a more intense red color. Breast muscle or white meat contains less myoglobin than dark poultry meat.

Dark Coloration of Turkey Meat Bone darkening is a common occurrence. Cooking oxidizes and denatures the hemoglobin, changing its red color to various dark shades. Repeated freezing and thawing of carcasses increases bone darkening, but extremely cold freezing temperatures (less than -30ºF) cause less discoloration.

Red or Pink Caused by age and sex of bird, trace elements in the water, dietary components, processing techniques or the ventilation system of the oven used in cooking the product. This color does not affect the palatability or safety of the product, when cooked to a recommended 170ºF in the breast & 180ºF in the thigh.

Green Greening may occur in cured turkey products that contain sodium nitrite. The surface as well as the center may exhibit a green color.

At other times, meats will develop a greenish, almost iridescent glow. This discoloration may appear on the surface or center of the product. Microorganisms causing this problem include lactobacillus and leuconostoc.

These discolorations may occur more frequently during the summer months when bacteria grow rapidly. While not harmful or unsafe, such rainbow colored meat is certainly unappealing.

Discoloration also may occur as a result of mishandling at the distributor or end-user level. When it occurs, contact your distributor or the turkey processor.

CORN DOG OR KORN DOG A coined name that must be accompanied by a true product name, such as "Batter Dipped Turkey Franks on a Stick." Limited to 65 percent cornmeal batter and a minimum of 35 percent frankfurter. Product is typically fried or baked and is served on a stick.

"Corn Dogs" made from cooked turkey sausage, such as wieners or frankfurters, must show the "kind" of poultry used in conjunction with the coined name (e.g., "Corn Dogs" must be named "Turkey Corn Dogs").

CURED Product has been immersed or injected (also called pumped or stitched) with a solution containing salt, approved levels of flavorings and sodium nitrite. Cured products also can be made by mixing the curing solution with the meat, stuffing the meat into casings and cooking. See also NITRITES.


CUTLET, POULTRY Poultry cutlets may be cut as thin slices from a whole muscle. Or they may be fabricated. In such cases, the term "cutlet" must be properly and distinctly qualified to describe the product, such as "Turkey Cutlet, Chopped and Formed."

CUTTING BOARDS A wooden cutting board may become a source of contamination. The wood becomes crisscrossed with cuts that are hideaways for microorganisms. Hard rubber or plastic blocks are required in many areas since they do not score or chip easily, thus decreasing the possibilities for food contamination. In addition, they can be sanitized in the dishwasher or manually by immersion. (Where wood is used, such as in baker's tables, it must be of a nonabsorbent variety, such as hard maple.)

Separate cutting boards should be used for raw and cooked foods in order to prevent cross-contamination. Frequent sanitation is also required to prevent cross-contamination.

All cutting boards should be free of seams and cracks, may not contain any toxic substances, and should not impart an odor or taste to the food being cut.

"D" SHAPE A semi oval, or "D" shaped product. This shape is formed from chunks of turkey. May also be labeled TAVERN, SLAB or OVAL.

DARK MEAT Drumstick, thigh, thigh trim meat and dark trim meat from a turkey.

DELI OR DELICATESSEN STYLE The terminology has been permitted on labeling for ready-to-eat turkey products. See also HAM, PASTRAMI, SALAMI, LUNCHEON MEAT.

Cooked Diced Turkey--Raw boneless poultry placed in a casing without any binders or extenders, cooked, drained of natural juices and diced.

Diced Cooked Turkey with Natural Juices--Raw boneless poultry placed in a casing without any binders or extenders, cooked with natural juices retained and diced. Products of this type may contain seasonings, such as salt, MSG, flavorings and spices, which will be reflected in the ingredients statement.


Diced Cooked Turkey Roll or Diced Turkey From Turkey Roll--Diced turkey also can be made from a cooked turkey roll.


DRY HEAT COOKING uses hot air or fat to transfer heat to the food. Dry heat methods allow surface sugars to caramelize. These include: roasting, baking, broiling, grilling, pan frying, deep-fat frying and sautéing.

EXTENDERS Turkey sausage products may contain extenders and binders, such as cereals, vegetable starch, soy flour, soy protein concentrate, isolated soy protein, modified food starch, carrageenan, nonfat dry milk, dried whey, reduced lactose whey, whey protein concentrate and calcium lactate. These binders and extenders, singly or in combination, are limited to 3.5 percent of the finished weight. If any of these products are used, they must be noted on the product label. See also BINDERS.

FIRST WING PORTION/DRUMETTE Humerus of turkey with all meat and skin attached may be labeled as: (a) Turkey Wing Drumettes (b) Turkey Drumettes-From Disjointed Wings.

FLASH FROZEN The product is frozen as quickly as possible to assure maximum quality. "Flash frozen" is acceptable on the labels of products frozen within 12 hours after entry into blast or tunnel freezer facilities. See also FROZEN.

FOIL ROAST Raw, boneless turkey roast, placed in foil for cooking. Foil is peeled back the last half hour of cooking for browning.

FOOTBALL SHAPE Name reflects shape of product, which is formed from sections of turkey. May also be called PLANK SHAPE.

FORMED, MOLDED, PRESSED Chopped turkey, chunks of turkey and/or turkey sections may be formed, molded and pressed to make turkey roasts, rolls, logs, etc.

FREE RANGE or FREE ROAMING Producers may label products as "Free Range" or "Free Roaming" if they can demonstrate to the USDA/FSIS the poultry has been allowed access to the outside.

FREEZER BURN The drying of food that is exposed to air during freezer storage is called freezer burn. It affects the flavor, tenderness and juiciness of the meat, but not its wholesomeness.

To avoid freezer burn, wrap turkey securely in moisture and/or vapor-proof paper or other packaging materials recommended for freezer storage. Cool cooked turkey before wrapping to prevent condensation during freezing. Be sure freezer temperature controls are in good operating order to prevent wide fluctuations in temperature.

Handle products carefully to avoid tearing the packaging materials. Date packages and rotate to assure a "first-in, first-out" policy.

FREEZING Freezing at processing plants is done in huge blast freezers at temperatures of -30ºF. When turkey is frozen this quickly, there is not enough time for large ice crystals to form, so the quality of the meat remains excellent.

If products are frozen in regular freezers, the juices in the meat freeze in the form of large ice crystals. These large ice crystals tear the turkey flesh and damage the texture of the meat. When the product is thawed, the meat may be mushy and will weep juices.

FRESH Turkey products labeled fresh have never had an internal temperature below 26ºF, per USDA regulations.


FROZEN "Fresh frozen," "quick frozen," "frozen fresh" and similar terms apply only to ready-to-cook poultry processed in accordance with 9 CFR 381.66(f)(1). Ready-to-cook poultry handled in any other manner and dressed poultry may be labeled "frozen" only if it is frozen in accordance with 9 CFR 381.66(f)(2) under the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service supervision and is in fact in a frozen state. "Individually quick frozen turkey" and similar terms are applicable only to turkey products that are frozen as stated on the label and whose component parts can be easily separated at time of packing. See also FLASH FROZEN.

FRYER-ROASTER TURKEY Young, immature turkey, of either sex, usually less than 16 weeks of age.

GIBLETS Refers to the liver, heart and gizzard, which are packaged with the whole body turkey. Although often packaged with the giblets, the neck of a bird is not a giblet.


GROUND TURKEY Ground turkey for foodservice is generally made from dark turkey meat with natural skin proportions, (wings may be included). Other ground turkey products are prepared from breast meat and are labeled as such i.e. Ground Turkey Breast, Ground White Meat or Lean Ground Turkey. Contact supplier for specific nutrient data.

HAM, TURKEY Made from boneless turkey thigh meat with skin and surface fat removed. Must be cured and may contain added ingredients, such as phosphates and flavorings. Product otherwise conforming to the standard for turkey ham as defined in 9 CFR 381.171 of the poultry products inspection regulations but weighing more than the original weight of the turkey thigh meat used prior to curing shall be descriptively labeled as follows: The product name must include, in addition to "Turkey Ham" and the true product name, "Cured Turkey Thigh Meat," words that specify the amount of the additional substances (e.g., "and ___ % Water," "With ___% Water Added" or "Turkey Ham and Water Product ___% of Weight is Added Ingredients"). The ingredients of the added solution may be incorporated into the product name (e.g., "Turkey Ham and Water Product ___% of Weight is Added Water, Salt, Dextrose, Sodium Phosphate and Sodium Nitrite"). The blank is filled in with the percent determined by subtracting the original weight of the turkey thigh meat from the weight of the cooked finished product (e.g., "Turkey Ham [cured turkey thigh meat] and 12% Water").

Turkey Ham Products Some ground turkey thigh meat may be added as a binder in turkey ham products as defined in 9 CFR 381.171 without declaration provided the ground turkey thigh meat is made from trimmings removed from the turkey thighs during the boning and trimming process. The amount of ground turkey thigh meat that may be used can represent no more than the amount that was trimmed and in no case more than 15 percent of the weight of the turkey thigh meat ingredients at the time of formulation. Products containing any ground turkey thigh meat not removed during the boning and trimming processes or products containing more than 15 percent ground turkey thigh meat must be labeled to indicate the presence of ground turkey thigh meat (e.g., "A portion of ground turkey thigh meat added").

HEN or TOM TURKEY The sex designation of "hen" (female) or "tom" (male) turkey is optional on the label, and is an indication of size rather than the tenderness of a turkey.

HICKORY SMOKED TURKEY Product is exposed to natural smoke during the cooking process. Denotes exclusive use of hickory wood, hickory wood sawdust or the natural smoke flavoring vaporized by heat derived from hickory wood. It is usually cured, but this is not a requirement. See also SMOKED.

KIELBASA A cooked, cured sausage, usually highly seasoned. This product is usually available in ring or link/stick form. The finished product may contain up to 10 percent added water.

KOSHER AND KOSHER STYLE Products prepared by federally inspected packing plants and identified with labels bearing references to "Kosher" or Rabbinical markings must be handled under Rabbinical supervision. The Federal Meat and Poultry Inspection Program does not certify to kosher preparation of products but rather accepts the statements and markings offered and applied under the supervision of the Rabbinical authority. Application for approval must identify the Rabbinical authority under whose supervision the product is to be prepared. Qualification of the word by such terms as "style" or "brand" does not negate this requirement.

LABELING FOR BONELESS POULTRY Boneless poultry products shall be labeled in a manner that accurately describes their actual form and composition. The product name shall specify the form of the product (e.g., emulsified, finely chopped, etc.), and the "kind" name of the poultry, and if the product does not consist of natural proportions of skin and fat, as they occur in the whole carcass, shall also include terminology that describes the actual composition. If the product is cooked, it shall be so labeled. For the purpose of this paragraph, natural proportions of skin, as found on a whole turkey carcass, will be considered to be as follows: Raw (15 percent), Cooked Turkey (20 percent).

Boneless poultry product shall not have a bone solids content of more than 1 percent, calculated on a weight basis.

See the "Purchasing Turkey" chapter for a chart that presents label terminology used to describe white/dark meat content.


LUNCHEON MEAT A seasoned, cured and cooked product that may be made with mechanically separated turkey, coarsely ground turkey meat and/or chunked turkey. See also CHOPPED, CHUNKED, SECTIONED.

MDT Refers to mechanically deboned turkey.

MSP The letters stand for "mechanically separated poultry" and refer to a poultry food product made by mechanically separating bone from muscle tissue of carcasses and parts of poultry carcasses. The USDA has established certain labeling requirements, use limits and a minimum percent of bone solids content. MSP must be declared as mechanically separated chicken or turkey.

MOIST HEAT COOKING The use of steam, water or other liquids to transfer heat to the food. Moist heat methods are used to emphasize the natural food flavors. These include: simmering, boiling, poaching and steaming.


NATURAL Used to indicate the product contains no artificial flavor, color ingredient, chemical preservative or other artificial or synthetic ingredient. In addition, the product and any ingredients used in the product can be no more than minimally processed. This definition must accompany the natural claim.

Acceptable processing includes:

  • a. Processing to make the food edible or safe (e.g., cooking, smoking, roasting).
  • b. Physical processes that maintain the natural state of the raw product (e.g., separating the whole body turkey into parts, grinding turkey meat).

    The word "natural" may also appear as an adjective for turkey breast, referring to the shape of the breast (e.g., "natural shape"), made from the whole muscle.

    NETTED Identity's the roast as being netted.

    NITRITES Sodium nitrites are allowed for use in the curing process of further-processed turkey products, such as ham or frankfurters. Smaller quantities of sodium nitrites can be used to achieve faster curing as well as desired development of flavor and color. Nitrites are added in parts per million (ppm) and are used to lengthen shelf life, ensure against the development of botulism and retard the development of rancidity during storage. The FDA has ruled nitrite use in the curing process is safe and potential risks are outweighed by known benefits. See also CURED.

    NO ANTIBIOTICS The term "no antibiotics added" may be used on poultry labels if sufficient documentation is provided by the producer to the USDA/FSIS demonstrating animals were raised without antibiotics.

    NO HORMONES Hormones are not allowed in raising of poultry. Therefore, the claim "no hormones added" cannot be used on the poultry labels unless it is followed by a statement that says "Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones."

    ORGANIC The term "organic" has not yet been defined by the USDA, although the government is working on a definition. Until the definition is final, USDA is permitting certain poultry products to be labeled "certified organic by (name of certifying entity)." The label must be pre-approved by USDA and the claim must meet certain basic criteria. The certifying entity must have standards that define what constitutes an "organically produced" product and a system for ensuring that the products meet those standards.

    OVEN PREPARED Label that defines the product is fully cooked and ready to eat.

    OVEN READY Label that defines the product is ready-to-cook.


    OYSTER MEAT An oyster shell-shaped piece of dark turkey meat, often called the "eye" or "loin" of the dark turkey meat. The top of each thigh muscle is anchored into these two indentations in the turkey backbone. If the thigh is cut carefully at the joint, the oyster meat will remain intact. If the thigh is pulled from the body, some of the oyster meat will be removed with the thigh meat. Turkeys of 20 pounds or more will yield close to three ounces of oyster meat.

    PAN ROASTED PRODUCT GROUP Further processed turkey products that have a lower, more natural physical profile, than most other processed turkey products. They are, typically, part oven browned or oil browned to give the " just out of the oven appearance." They may be more expensive and of better quality than some other turkey breast products.

    PASTRAMI, TURKEY Cured and smoked turkey product. May contain turkey skin, may be chunked and formed. Surface may be topped with cracked peppercorns and/or caramel coloring.

    PATTY OR PATTIE, TURKEY Often used as part of a name identifying a product that has been shaped in round, flat forms. May contain binders, extenders and other approved ingredients, such as seasonings and flavorings.


    POULTRY PRODUCT This term refers to any poultry carcass or part thereof, or any product made wholly or in part from any poultry carcass.


    PROCESS Process, used as a verb, means to conduct any operation or combination of operations, whereby poultry is slaughtered, eviscerated, canned, salted, stuffed, cured, cooked, rendered, boned, cut up or otherwise manufactured or processed. The term "process" does not refer to freezing of poultry products, except when freezing is incidental to operations otherwise classed as "processing" under this paragraph.

    RAW RTC ROAST Ready-to-Cook Turkey Roast, raw, boneless. Can be breast only or breast/thigh combination.

    READY-TO-COOK POULTRY Slaughtered poultry free from protruding pin feathers and vestigial feathers; from which the head, feet, crop, oil gland, trachea, esophagus, entrails, lungs and mature reproductive organs have been removed; and which is suitable for cooking without need of further processing. Ready-to-cook poultry also means any cut-up or disjointed portions of poultry or other parts of poultry, such as breast meat, thigh meat, roasts, etc.

    ROASTED Denotes a method of cooking and not necessarily the appearance of finished product. When roasted is used with a product name, the product is cooked by a dry heat method. However, such cooking may take place in the presence of humidity when added for facilitating heat transfer or efficiency. When a product is placed in a casing, the casing must be either porous or perforated to allow drainage of cooked out juices. Alternatively, a wrapping that is non-porous may be turned down or removed for the final portion of cooking.

    ROTISSERIE A smaller turkey roast, usually breast meat, with topical seasoning for flavor and appearance. Can be used on rotisserie or roasted in oven.

    ROUND SHAPE Name reflects shape of product formed from chopped turkey.

    SALAMI, TURKEY Products labeled "turkey salami" may be one of three types: dry, cooked or cotto.

    Dry Salami May be smoked, contain extenders and binders as permitted by general red meat sausage standards. Must have the appearance of traditional dry salami as well as a moisture content of no more than 10 percent water.

    Cooked Salami Cured and cooked sausage that must comply with red meat standards for cooked sausage products (i.e., other than frankfurter-bologna class). May be smoked. Generally coarsely ground and highly spiced. May contain extenders and binders as permitted by general sausage standards. Label must differentiate it from dry salami with such words as "cooked salami" or "cotto salami."

    Cotto Salami Cooked salami that is generally characterized by garlic, whole peppercorns and turkey hearts.

    SALT Some labels include the phrase "no salt added." When this term is noted, there was no added salt used in the formulation of the product and no ingredients containing salt were added. The term "salt" refers only to sodium chloride. See also SODIUM.

    SAUSAGE, BULK There are no published regulatory standards for turkey sausage; the general sausage standards are being applied through label approval systems to assure consistency in identification. The product name on the label must include the word "turkey."

    Fresh Sausage Must be made with fresh or frozen turkey and may contain turkey and meat by-products.

    Cooked Sausage Is generally cured and may be smoked.

    SAUSAGES, LINK Includes frankfurters, hot dogs, wieners, bratwurst, breakfast-type links, corn dogs, Polish and kielbasa sausages. Most are made from mechanically deboned turkey meat or coarsely ground dark turkey meat.

    SCAPULA Light meat located next to the breast and wing - but not part of either - is called scapula. When attached to the breast, it is considered breast meat.


    SELF-BASTING Whole body turkeys and turkey products that have been injected with a combination of vegetable oil or broth and flavorings. See also TURKEY CONTAINING SOLUTIONS.

    SKIN The poultry products listed in the table that follows shall have no more than the percent of skin specified, when raw:
    - Boneless turkey breast or boneless turkey breast roll: 14 percent
    - Boneless turkey thigh or boneless turkey thigh roll: 8 percent
    - Boneless turkey or turkey roll: 15 percent


    SMOKE FLAVORING OR ARTIFICIAL SMOKE FLAVORING Must be noted on the label and in the ingredient statement when added as an ingredient in the formula of a poultry product. See also SMOKED.

    SMOKED Turkey must be labeled "smoked" when it is processed using smoke generated from hardwood, sawdust, corn cobs or natural smoke flavoring applied to the surface (with or without heat). Smoking requires a minimum internal temperature of 155ºF. See also HICKORY SMOKED and SMOKE FLAVORING.

    SODIUM Sodium nitrite and sodium chloride (salt) play an important role in the curing process due to the preservative effect. They help to extend significantly the shelf life of cured products. In recent years, processors have made great strides in voluntarily reducing the amount of sodium used in the curing process.

    Low Sodium Defines a food that has 140 milligrams (mg) or less of sodium per Reference Amount. For main dishes, must contain 140 milligrams or less of sodium per 100 grams.

    Very Low Sodium Defines a food that provides 35 milligrams (mg) or less of sodium per Reference Amount.


    TENDER Any strip of poultry breast meat. In the turkey industry, tenderloins are sometimes referred to as "tenders."

    TENDERLOIN The inner pectoral muscle that lies adjacent to the turkey's rib cage, parallel to the breast bone.

    TURKEY CONTAINING SOLUTIONS Self basting whole body turkeys and raw turkey products that have been injected with broth and/or fat-based solutions to enhance flavor and moisture content. The amount and composition of these solutions are regulated by the government and must be identified on the product package. These solutions commonly include:
    - Broth with seasonings.
    - Vegetable oil and solids with seasonings and flavor enhancers.
    - Butter with seasonings and flavor enhancers.

    According to government regulation, raw bone-in turkey product or whole body turkey injected with up to 3 percent (of product weight) solution or boneless products injected with up to 8 percent solution may be labeled "Basted," "Marinated," "Added for Flavoring" or other similar terms.

    If greater amounts of solution are added, the method of addition and amount of solution must be stipulated on the label (e.g., "Injected with up to 12 percent solution of water, salt and phosphates"). These products may not be termed "Basted" or "Marinated."


    Light Turkeys All turkeys weighing less than 16 pounds.

    Heavy Turkeys All turkeys weighing 16 pounds or more. The weights refer to the bird at the point of inspection.


    WHITE MEAT Meat from the breast, wing or scapula of turkey. It also refers to breast trim or white trim. No skin is included.

    WHITE/DARK Roast made of breast meat and thigh meat, usually in natural proportion to turkey: 60/40 white to dark meat.

    YOUNG TURKEY Turkeys of either sex that are less than 8 months of age.