Allergens In Turkey?

Allergens in Turkey?

For individuals or parents of kids allergic to common allergens such as DAIRY, SOY, CORN or GLUTEN, did you know that you have to be careful when purchasing and eating your traditional holiday turkey. Why? Because, turkey may not mean just turkey.  That’s right!  Gluten, dairy, corn or soy could be in your bird!  Most name-brand turkeys in stores are labeled as “basted” or “self-basting,” and that means there’s more than turkey in the package and that these birds have been injected with a solution to make them more tender and flavorful, which can add hidden allergens.


Because companies try to make their turkeys taste better than others by injecting fat and flavoring into the meat. They may use butter (DAIRY) and seasonings that could contain SOY, CORN or GLUTEN.  The result is a juicy, flavorful holiday turkey that might contain your ALLERGENS.


Choosing a safe bird for your family means paying attention to labels. Turkeys labeled “natural” are minimally processed and should contain only turkey, so those are usually a good option for allergy families. Those that are labeled “organic” or “free range,” however, aren’t necessarily free from additives. Check your bird for an ingredient list and look for the words “Injected with approximately x% solution of…” to see what’s been added. You can also compare labels on basted and self-basting turkeys. Not every brand uses the same ingredients, so you may find one that is free of your family’s allergens.  It’s always a safe bet to contact the food company directly and ask away!


The challenging thing about basted poultry is that the additives are very well-hidden, even though they’re on the label. It’s easy to see how a cook might believe that their whole turkey has no other ingredients: it doesn’t look like there’s anything but a turkey there! Of course, you should ask the cook before eating and if possible, inspect packaging.  As a matter of fact to be on the safe side I recommend contacting the cook ahead of time and inquiring about the labeling.  If you wait until the day of, that packaging may have been tossed away.

Also if there’s any doubt, avoid the turkey or plan ahead by bringing your own smaller portion from home. Hey, nobody ever said that having kids with food allergies was easy! 😜 


Iris Shamus

59Iris Shamus is a mother to 3 awesome kids & the founder/CEO of AllerMates. AllerMates was born as a result of her food allergic son, Ben. Iris and/or AllerMates have been featured in many places including Fox News, the Doctors, Veria Living, MSNBC, The Today Show & the Huffington Post with helpful advice on keeping kids safe.  Based in New York, Iris & her team design & ship their products, create informative content & obsess every day about safeguarding kids.



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