Can Turkey Be Pink?
Yes, turkey can be pink.
More Info: The presence of a pink blush in cooked turkey meat can occur for a variety of reasons and is not a good indicator of meat doneness. The only safe method to tell when meat is fully cooked is by using a meat thermometer to gauge internal temperature, which for a turkey is 165°F.
What Causes Pink Turkey?
Several factors can contribute to the pink color present in a cooked turkey.
Leaching Hemoglobin: Young turkeys have undeveloped, porous bones which allows hemoglobin to leach out into the meat. In this case, the pink pigmentation would be more apparent near the bone.
High Levels of Myoglobin: Myoglobin is a protein present in the muscle tissue of all vertebrates that gives flesh its color. The lower the myoglobin count, the lighter the flesh color. Because myoglobin is responsible for storing oxygen carried through the blood until it is needed, several factors can cause a rise in myoglobin (and as follows darker flesh color) such as strenuous activity and age.
Natural Chemical Change: During the cooking process a natural chemical change occurs when atmospheric gases from either an electric or gas oven react with the hemoglobin in the tissue of the bird. A younger bird will have even more pink as its skin is thinner making its flesh more susceptible to the reaction.
Nitrates: Nitrates are added to meat to give it a reddish appearance. In the case of turkey, nitrates may be naturally present due to their presence in the food and water supply fed to turkeys.
Grilling or Smoking: The process of grilling or smoking also causes a natural chemical reaction in turkey that causes it to turn pink. The use of liquid flavor smoke will also turn a turkey pink.