Thanksgiving Turkey, Caribbean style. Safe to eat or death on a plate?
November 15, 2012 2:26 PM   Subscribe

Two twelve pound frozen turkeys wrapped well in newspaper insulation, placed in a suitcase and put on a plane. One trip from Michigan USA to Sint Maarten, Caribbean. Safe?

So my mom is going to bring two frozen turkeys on our Caribbean vacation. Are we going to get food poisoning? Nevermind the legality--I figure she can handle that concern herself.

The whole trip will take about 12 hours max. Obviously if the luggage is delayed for long or lost we won't eat the turkeys.

I love turkey dinner. LOVE it. She's also packing stuffing mix and fresh sage. SHHHH don't tell Customs!
posted by Stewriffic to Food & Drink (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You are planning on cooking them, right? If not, you may have a problem. Otherwise enjoy!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 2:28 PM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

I love this.

Will they be checked or carried on? The cargo hold tends to be colder than the cabin, for what it's worth. FDA says that they really should be held below 40 degrees the whole time (or, more realistically, for most of the time).

How long is the flight?
posted by supercres at 2:30 PM on November 15, 2012

Checked. Door to door, it should be about 12 hours or less.
posted by Stewriffic at 2:31 PM on November 15, 2012

bubble wrap first, then newspaper around the bubble wrap.
posted by Jon_Evil at 2:34 PM on November 15, 2012

I only cook my white meat to 145, so I probably wouldn't eat it if it was held above, say, 50 degrees for more than three hours (two to be safe). You're probably fine, but IMHO, it's iffy.

Can you check a cooler + dry ice instead of a suitcase?
posted by supercres at 2:34 PM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Why not just put them in a cooler? Lots of people bring over coolers of meat from the USA to the Caribbean (cheaper and generally import-duty-free) as their checked luggage. Just duct-tape it up.
posted by Static Vagabond at 2:34 PM on November 15, 2012 [11 favorites]

Wrap them in many layers of newspaper for insulation and they'll be totally fine.

My uncle goes to Alaska a lot to fish, and regularly ships frozen (raw) fish to his home in Florida. He packs them wrapped in lots of newspaper in a regular old cardboard box. Over a day later, the fish is still almost completely frozen.
posted by phunniemee at 2:34 PM on November 15, 2012

Sounds okay to me, check to insure that they won't confiscate your birds upon arrival. They x-ray everything now, so you're not going to be able to hide what you've got.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:40 PM on November 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

Totally fine. The surface of the birds is very unlikely to get anywhere near the danger zone in that short period of time. The energy needed to defrost 24lbs of turkey is huge. The more insulation there is, the less worry.
posted by ssg at 2:47 PM on November 15, 2012

Oh, and for what it's worth-- you'll be able to buy a frozen turkey from a grocery store on the island, which I'm guessing you'll need to visit anyway for the rest of the dinner.
posted by Static Vagabond at 3:01 PM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yes, do it. When my cousins were teaching overseas, they would routinely pack turkeys and hams in their luggage for flights from Chicago to Korea. Everyone survived.
posted by spinturtle at 4:05 PM on November 15, 2012

Every chicken I ate growing up was thawed on the kitchen counter overnight. I think you're fine.
posted by something something at 4:17 PM on November 15, 2012

I would wrap them in a space blanket, just to be sure.
posted by furnace.heart at 5:04 PM on November 15, 2012

Hygenically? You're gonna be fine. Those suckers take like two days to defrost anyway.

Legally? Umm... potential problem. You're going to want to check customs regulations about exporting/importing meat that way. Looks illegal.
posted by valkyryn at 5:15 PM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Why not just Fed Ex them?
posted by Ideefixe at 5:41 PM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

They sell temperature strips which will indicate the hottest (or coldest) temperatures experienced in shipping. Add a strip before wrapping and you can be sure the temperature stayed within a reasonable range...
posted by NoDef at 5:46 PM on November 15, 2012

Speaking as an Australian, we're exceedingly boring and po-faced about anyone seeking to avoid quarantine rules. I have absolutely no idea what if any diseases a frozen turkey could take to the Caribbean, but blithely thinking that you know better than the authorities is offensively wrong. This is a major social no no in my country, it is not funny at all.

just as a point of cultural reference.

As to defrosting them, I am sure it will be fine. The economic cost of importing them in your luggage versus just buying some when you get there is your choice too, but since static vagabond, located in the Turks and Caicos islands confidently asserts that you will be able to buy them there, why don't you do that?
posted by wilful at 8:09 PM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

You will totally be fine. After the newspaper add a plastic bag or two in case things get a little wet. I have safely done stuff like this many times
posted by saraindc at 12:31 AM on November 16, 2012

also if the turkey is crucial, i wouldn't count on local supply. Sometimes you can't find a turkey last minute in stores in any place in the US, either.
posted by saraindc at 4:53 AM on November 16, 2012

My mom was interested in the legality aspect that I duly brought up to her. Her understanding is that the Netherlands Antilles functions differently from the Netherlands proper and the customs/import laws are not the same. They've been going there yearly for 30 years or so, and I know they have brought in ham. (It was delicious).

If anyone can find info to the contrary, that would be great.
posted by Stewriffic at 9:04 AM on November 16, 2012

For example, here's the link to the same source, only as Netherlands Antilles, not Netherlands.
posted by Stewriffic at 9:46 AM on November 16, 2012

The turkey arrived safely with the outside still iced over.
posted by Stewriffic at 2:56 AM on November 18, 2012

It was lovely.
posted by Stewriffic at 7:42 AM on November 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

« Older Sending follow up letter to the job I had to back...   |   Can I take the midnight train going anywhere? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.