I had a chance to spend some time with Chicken Check In at FNCE. The largest annual meeting of registered dietitians, the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo is a whirlwind of food sampling, networking events, educational sessions, and more.
Americans eat A LOT of chicken – the National Chicken Council projects consumption to reach 93 pounds per person in the year 2018. Although we’re all chowing down happily on a seemingly daily basis, labels and misconceptions are a source of confusion for registered dietitians and consumers alike. Here are some of my insights from the Chicken Check In booth at FNCE.
There are no added hormones or steroids in chicken. Ever.
Many of my dietitian friends were pleasantly surprised to hear this! Added or artificial hormones and steroids are banned in broiler chickens (and that, in fact, goes for all poultry), and they have been since the 1950s. We can thank improved nutrition, top-notch veterinary care, and improved living conditions for the breeding of bigger birds over the past half-century.
Even in the Instapot, make sure that chicken is HOT!
Along with new appliances that help us bring chicken to the table faster than ever come misconceptions about food safety. Regardless of the chicken preparation method, reaching an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit is non-negotiable when it comes to chicken. Be safe and use a food thermometer. Using a recyclable grocery bag? Designate a bag specifically for raw chicken to prevent cross-contamination.
ALL broiler chickens (meat chickens) are raised cage-free.
Broiler chickens are raised in large, spacious barns. They are not raised in cages. I’ve had the opportunity to see this firsthand at Rhodes Farm in Maryland. These chickens have access to food and water and plenty of space. A fellow dietitian at FNCE asked the origin of photos in which chickens appear to be cramped up. The answer? Birds of a feather flock together! Their natural inclination is to huddle up, even when there’s plenty of room to roam. Take a look for yourself in this virtual reality video of a broiler chicken farm.
Chickens are NOT genetically modified.
Regardless of feed or size, no chicken – or other meat, for that matter – is genetically modified. There are a few different reasons that, combined, contribute to today’s bigger chickens. Mostly it’s that they’re bred to be bigger by choosing the strongest/biggest from each flock to be bred. Couple that with high tech housing, advanced care and better nutrition – that leads to chickens that grow bigger and healthier.
There’s no denying Americans love chicken! Rest assured that in addition to being tasty and versatile, all chicken available for purchase is also safe and nutritious for you and your family.
If you have more questions about chicken, check out Chicken Check In.
Enjoy your food. Enjoy your life!