Pre-Thanksgiving reviewers marveled at the good taste of Rubashkin turkeys and ranked them at or near the top of taste rankings, something Rubashkin made a big fuss over.
Within reason the more salt one has in the turkey, the better it will taste, Companies are reluctant to inject sodium into poultry because to do so means declaring the higher sodium content on government mandated food labels. However, if a company were willing to take the risk, increasing the sodium content of turkey without declaring it would give it an unfair advantage against competitors.
Rubashkin, intentionally or not, found himself with such an unfair and illegal advantage.
If you keep kosher and ate Rubaskhin turkey for Thanksgiving and your blood pressure rose to alarming heights, you now may know why. The UFCW Union reports:
An independent food safety investigation of two brands of Agriprocessor, Inc., turkeys revealed significantly higher than stated sodium content in the company’s Trader Joe’s All Natural Glatt Kosher and Rubashkin’s Aaron’s Best Glatt Kosher brand turkeys.
The independent analysis of the turkeys was conducted by Strasburger & Siegel, Inc., Food Testing Laboratories at the request of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union. The investigation was requested after employees at Agriprocessors, one of the world’s largest Kosher producers of beef, lamb and poultry products, raised concerns about the accuracy of labeling on the company’s products.
“Shoppers have the right to know the true nutritional content of the products they buy, and companies have a legal and moral responsibility to provide accurate information,” said Mark Lauritsen, UFCW international vice president and director of the Food Processing, Packing and Manufacturing Division.
According to an official complaint submission to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) by the UFCW, Nutrition Facts labels on Trader Joe’s All Natural Glatt Kosher Turkeys state a sodium level of 80 mg per 4 oz serving size. However, an independent analysis of the product revealed that Trader Joe’s consumers may have been exposed to sodium levels up to 351 mg per serving size, four times higher than stated on the Nutrition Facts label.
This equates to 339 percent above the stated sodium levels and is far above the 20 percent variation allowed by the USDA.
Further testing conducted on Rubashkin’s Aaron’s Best Glatt Kosher Turkey, a national brand produced by Agriprocessors, also revealed sodium levels far in excess of the stated amount on the package. The Nutrition Facts state a sodium level of 150 mg per serving size. However, independent testing revealed sodium levels of up to 357 mg per serving size, 138 percent above stated sodium levels. This, too, is far above the variation allowed by the USDA.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that one out of every three American adults has high blood pressure or hypertension. Having high blood pressure increases one’s chance for developing heart disease, a stroke, and other serious conditions.
In order to maintain a healthy blood pressure, the CDC recommends that an individual “watch the sodium” in prepared foods. One of the most important ways to do this is by closely examining Nutritional Facts labels on products.
“Today, more and more people are paying close attention to nutritional labeling. As a leader in the meat packing and food processing industry, with more than 250,000 workers, we have an obligation to maintain the integrity of the industry and to ensure that consumers are protected, educated and informed,” added Lauritsen.
Agriprocessors brand names include Aaron’s Best, Aaron’s Choice, European Glatt, Nevel, Shor Habor, Rubashkin’s, Supreme Kosher, and David’s.
Here are the complete reports from Strasburger & Siegel: