Turkey Lunch Meat Ingredients

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Lunch meat refers to meat that is molded, cut in thin slices and served cold. This type of meat product is often used to make sandwiches. Turkey lunch meat can come in many different forms, including sausage, chopped meat and whole cuts of meat. While the types of meat may vary, some ingredients are common in all types of lunch meat. Knowing about the common ingredients in your lunch meat can help you make healthy eating choices.

Turkey Breast Meat

The most common ingredient in turkey lunch meat is turkey breast. While this may come as no surprise, not all lunch meat is created in the same way. As mentioned earlier, lunch meat contains meat that has been processed to a certain shape so that it can be cut into evenly shaped slices. Some companies start with a whole piece of turkey breast and then they trim it to a certain shape. To make slices, the lunch meat company will shave thin slices of meat from the turkey breast. Other companies will grind or chop the meat and bind it together to form a sausage. The sausage is sliced into uniform pieces. Sausage types of lunch meats often contain extra ingredients that are used to stick the pieces of meat together into a loaf.

Sodium Nitrite

Sodium nitrite is another common ingredient you will find in packaged lunch meats. It is added to the meat to preserve the color of the meat. Experts say that consumers should limit their consumption of this additive. It has been linked with heart disease because it may harden arteries and damage blood vessels. Sodium nitrate may also contribute to the development of diabetes.


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If you are trying to cut back on your sodium, also known as salt, you may want to cut back on your turkey lunch meat. Most popular varieties contain around 400 milligrams of sodium per serving. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) suggests that healthy people under the age of 51 should consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. Turkey lunch meat contains salt because it preserves the meat and adds flavor to the product.


Carrageenan is an additive that is often extracted from seaweed. It is used to glue chopped or ground meat together. It also makes the consistency of the meat more uniform. The USDA considers this additive safe for consumption.