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Frequently Asked Questions

The Color of Poultry

What is the usual color of raw poultry?

Raw poultry can vary from a bluish-white to yellow. All of these colors are normal and are a direct result of breed, exercise, age, and/or diet. Younger poultry has less fat under the skin, which can cause the bluish cast, and the yellow skin could be a result of marigolds in the feed.

What causes the differences in color of raw ground poultry?

Ground poultry varies in color according to the part being ground. Darker pink means more dark meat was used and a lighter pink means more white meat was included (or skin was included). Ground poultry can contain only muscle meat and skin with attached fat in proportion to the whole bird.

What causes dark bones in cooked poultry?

Darkening of bones and meat around the bones occurs primarily in young (6-8 weeks) broiler-fryer chickens. Since the bones have not calcified or hardened completely, pigment from the bone marrow seeps through the bones and into the surrounding area. Freezing can also contribute to this darkening. This is an aesthetic issue and not a safety one. The meat is safe to eat when all parts have reached at least 160 ° F.

What color is safely cooked poultry?

Safely cooked poultry can vary in color from white to pink to tan. When the temperature of the poultry as measured in the thigh has reached 180 ° F, there is usually no other site in the bird lower than the safe temperature of 160 ° F. Check the temperature in several locations, being sure to include the wing joint. All the meat—including any that remains pink—is safe to eat as soon as all parts reach at least 160 ° F.

Why is some cooked poultry pink?

Chemical changes occur during cooking. Oven gases in a heated gas or electric oven react chemically with hemoglobin in the meat tissues to give it a pink tinge. Often meat of younger birds shows the most pink because their thinner skins permit oven gases to reach the flesh. Older animals have a fat layer under their skin, giving the flesh added protection from the gases. Older poultry may be pink in spots where fat is absent from the skin. Also, nitrates and nitrites, which are often used as preservatives or may occur naturally in the feed or water supply used, can cause a pink color.

If fully cooked smoked poultry is pink, is it safe?

Poultry grilled or smoked outdoors can be pink, even when all parts have attained temperatures well above 160 ° F. There may be a pink-colored rim about one-half inch wide around the outside of the cooked product. Commercially prepared, smoked poultry is usually pink because it is prepared with natural smoke and liquid smoke flavor. Federal regulations require all processed poultry to be cooked to at least 160 ° F instantly, or to an equivalent level of safety attained by this minimum temperature requirement.

 Provided by the United States Department of Agriculture

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