A Weird Muscle Problem Is Showing Up In A Lot Of Chicken
The “white striping” found in chicken breasts is a by-product of how fast modern chickens grow and how big they get, a new report claims.
A new report and campaign video by Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), an animal welfare group, links these conditions to breeding chickens that grow too fast. “While the specific causes of muscular disorders like [white striping] are still being researched, the vast majority of studies conducted thus far have found a correlation between fast growth, heavier weights, higher breast yield, and the development of myopathies in broilers,” the report states.As you can see in the image above, “white striping” results when chickens grow too quickly. Running parallel to muscle fibers, researchers say it has become more of a problem in recent years. A similar problem known as “woody breast” (resulting in tougher meat) is likewise troubling producers.
White striping, a meat quality issue, degrades the taste and nutritional value of chicken, according to the report, resulting in meat that is less tender, doesn’t absorb marinade as readily, and contains more fat. CIWF also criticizes the suffering that animals experience from putting on weight too rapidly.
While meat severely affected by white striping is generally used for processed products such as chicken nuggets, moderately affected chicken is still sold at the grocer, according to CIWF.
The US poultry industry has bred birds over decades to have more breast meat and to put on weight in a shorter period of time. As a result, the average chicken sent to market in 2015 weighed 6.24 pounds and was 47 days old — in 1950, market-age birds were 3.08 pounds and 70 days old, according to data from the National Chicken Council.
The prevalence of these muscle defects have drawn the attention of researchers, who are looking into causes and solutions. In one experiment involving 285 birds, about 96% were affected by white striping and woody breast.
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