The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is responsible for ensuring the truthfulness and accuracy in labeling meat and poultry products. Knowing the meaning of labels can make purchasing a Thanksgiving turkey a little less confusing.

Basted or self-basted:
Bone-in poultry products that are injected or marinated with a solution containing butter or other edible fat, broth, stock or water plus spices, flavor enhancers and other approved substances.


Whole poultry and cuts that have never been below 26 degrees Fahrenheit. Fresh poultry should always bear a “keep refrigerated” statement.


Temperature of raw, frozen poultry is 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below.

Hen or tom:

The sex designation of “hen” (female) or “tom” (male) turkey is optional on the label. It is an indication of size rather than the tenderness of a turkey.


Poultry contains no artificial ingredients or added color and is minimally processed.

No hormones:

Under federal law, hormones aren’t allowed in raising poultry. Therefore, the claim “no hormones added” can’t be used on poultry labels unless it is followed by a statement that says, “Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones.”

No antibiotics:

The terms “no antibiotics added” may be used on labels for poultry if sufficient documentation is provided by the producer to the FSIS demonstrating that the animals were raised without antibiotics. However, all meat and poultry is antibiotic free. Turkeys can’t receive antibiotics prior to harvest. Turkeys are tested at harvest to ensure the poultry is free of residual antibiotics.


The turkey farm must meet the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s certified organic program standards. Organic doesn’t mean the turkey is safer or raised more humanely; rather, it means the turkey is raised without antibiotics and has access to the outdoors.


Young: Turkeys of either sex that are less than 8 months of age.