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Best sliced turkey

Liven up work, school, or home lunches

Consumer Reports magazine: September 2012

Kirkland Signature Sliced (Costco)

Our tasters tried 18 packaged turkey slices, and although none would beat meat sliced off the bone, some are worthy alternatives if you want to save a little money or skip going out to buy a sandwich. The top-rated products tend to be tender, flavorful, and made from whole meat sliced from the breast rather than reformed from various pieces. And the worst? To quote our tasters, Market Pantry Ultra Thin roast turkey slices from Target are “slick” and “sour.” Land O’Frost smoked turkey slices are “rubbery, with a chewy rind.”

All earned a Good score for nutrition, based on fairly low energy density (calories per gram of food), fats, sodium, sugars, and iron. Per two-slice serving, the recommended products have 45 to 60 calories, zero to 1 gram of fat, and 360 to 620 milligrams of sodium. Two of the three Hillshire Farm products have the most sodium; Market Pantry Less Sodium and Applegate have the least.

Sodium nitrite and nitrate are often added to sliced turkey as preservatives, but those compounds, which occur naturally in some foods, may form nitrosamines, which can cause cancer in lab animals. Three tested products—Applegate Naturals and the two from Hormel—claim “no nitrates or nitrites added.” Kirkland Signature has no label claim, but the maker told us that it also doesn’t add nitrates. The other products have added nitrites.

Oscar Mayer Carving Board Applewood

Bottom line. The 10 recommended turkey slices include six CR Best Buys. Among the top roasted choices, Kirkland Signature (Costco) and Oscar Mayer Carving Board are thick, flavorful whole-meat slices. Kirkland Signature comes in three 14-ounce packages, so if you choose it, plan to feed a crew. (The package recommends eating it within seven days of opening it.)

Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh slices are thin and tender, with a hint of smoke. Among the top smoked choices, Oscar Mayer Carving Board and Hormel have thick slices that taste like turkey-ham. Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh has thin turkey slices with a big smoky flavor.

If sandwiches are on your menu, read "Healthy Alternatives to White Bread" to find nutritious—and tasty—buns and rolls, flatbreads, pitas, and more.

Editor's Note: A version of this article appeared in the September 2012 issue of Consumer Reports magazine with the headline "Let's Talk (Sliced) Turkey."
   

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