Publix Insider Explains Cold Turkey Office Party

On Tuesday, we published the story of a woman who ordered a turkey from a Publix supermarket deli for her office’s Thanksgiving celebration, only to discover that her “fully cooked” turkey was cooked, but cold. This was a problem. Her story had a happy ending, but we heard from a Publix employee who confirmed that selling a cold turkey with no warning is wrong…and would lead to trouble for any employee who tried it at our tipster’s store.

The turkeys, as it turns out, can’t be sold hot not just for health code reasons, but because they aren’t cooked in the deli in the first place. They are cooked, frozen, then delivered to stores to thaw before sale.

I’ve been working in one of busiest Publix delis there are for 5 years now, so I know the inside info for what is SUPPOSED to happen. And what I’ve been doing and training people to do since day 1.

1. Yes, the people working there screwed up, no question about it. When taking the orders for these dinners/birds, we are REQUIRED to tell them that it does not come hot. They come to us frozen, and we thaw them out in our coolers. It is fully cooked, it’s not raw, but it is cold, and you will have to heat it up at home. Takes about 2 hours for the bird. Takes a lot longer for a raw bird. This all must be explained when taking an order for the turkeys. If needed, write it out on the customer’s copy of the order. Carbon copy is wonderful if old technology.

2. If someone asks why they come cold, here’s why. We are not allowed to let any of the those turkeys or sides out hot. It’s a health code violation and a liability issue. We also have no way to heat the birds, our ovens are not built for that kind of capacity. And even if we could, we have no way to keep all that food hot. Publix is also closed on Thanksgiving, so that’s another reason, you don’t want to pick up a hot meal and have to wait till the next day to eat it. And yes, even with these reasons, we do get people who get mad at us that the turkeys are not hot. Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do about it.

3. The de-boning thing. The reason for the fee is that it actually takes a lot of work to get those things de-boned. They are very cold (38 degrees or less) when we take all the meat of the bone, not warm at all. This is done for health code reasons, so there’s little to no chance of bacterial growth. And unfortunately, most stores do not have electric knives to do this with, I wish we did. So we’re using either paring knives, or really big bread knives. It takes a while, and that’s all time spent not helping customers on counter/sub shop/wherever.

I just thought the whole fiasco was crazy, and feel so sorry for the OP. I think I can honestly say if this happened at my store, some one would be suspended for a good while if not completely losing their job.

Thanks for the info, Publix tipster!

Is A “Fully-Cooked” Turkey Supposed To Be Hot?

(Photo: dvs)

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