Also be aware of packages that have been stacked too high and that may be stored above the adequate storage level of the supermarket fridge or freezer. This would mean that the poultry would not be chilled properly and could result in the growth of bacteria, thus making the poultry meat less safe to eat.
The meat would therefore have to be prepared and cooked much sooner. As long as the poultry meat is cooked at sufficiently high temperatures, all the bacteria will be killed and destroyed.
If you are buying a frozen bird from the supermarket, it should be extremely hard to touch and show no signs of freezer damage. If ice crystals are present on the surface of the packaging, it means that the poultry has been stored at temperatures that are much too cold.
Poultry can be used or frozen within two days of its "sell by" date and should be cooked by its "use-by" date. The meat will be at its best before or on the "use-by" date, however it can still be cooked after this date, although the quality of the meat will start to deterioate.
Poultry is a perishable product, so if you have any doubts about the quality of the meat, it is best to throw it out, especially if there are signs of deterioration such as a foul smell or an off colour.
When choosing a whole turkey or a whole chicken, allow 1 lb (450 g) of meat per person if you are unsure of how big a bird to buy. Therefore, if you are cooking for five people, you will need a bird that weighs around 5 lb (2.2 kg).
Once at the check out, place the poultry in a separate plastic bag, away from the other goods, preferably wrapping it in one bag first and then placing this bag inside another plastic bag. This will keep the meat away from other products, especially fresh fruit and vegetables and consequently prevent contamination that could occur from meat juices dripping onto the other goods.