Thanksgiving turkey troubles

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Phew! You can rest easy. Your Thanksgiving dinners should not kill you, or your residents.

That, at least, is what the nonprofit American Council on Science and Health says in a press release titled “Holiday Meals Rife with (Safe) Carcinogens!”

Well, thank goodness. For a second there I thought I was going to have to order take-out. Another dietary bullet dodged.

The reason for the announcement, however, was to counteract some misinformation circulating that our conventional turkeys will poison us with chemicals, such as acrylamide.

Yes, the food police are at it again. Acrylamide, which is produced when foods high in carbohydrates are cooked at high temperatures, apparently causes cancer in laboratory animals.

But the ACSH assures that we’d have to eat a lot of turkeys and stuffing to feel the effects of acrylamide and other chemicals, which occur naturally in food and are not man-made or added to foods.

"Acrylamide, like the majority of the other rodent carcinogens listed in the menu, has never been shown to be a human carcinogen," according to ACSH nutrition director Dr. Ruth Kava.

That’s good—though I’m not sure I like the term “rodent carcinogen.” But since we’re on the subject of ingredients, you might be curious about what exactly you could be eating, so here is a short list:

hydrazines (mushroom soup)

heterocyclic amines, acrylamide, benzo(a)pyrene, ethyl carbamate, dihydrazines, d-limonene, safrole, and quercetin glycosides (roast turkey with stuffing)

benzene and heterocyclic amines (prime rib of beef with parsley sauce)

coumarin, methyl eugenol, acetaldehyde, estragole, and safrole (apple and pumpkin pies)


ethyl alcohol with ethyl carbamate (red and white wines)

(To learn more about carcinogens and the meal, go to the association’s Web site,

Well, I hope I haven’t spoiled your appetite. We won’t talk about Christmas dinner. Promise.

Here’s wishing you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.