A perfectly cooked chicken has often been the go-to, guilt-free dinner option for those looking to achieve their healthy eating goals.

But a US-based animal activist group is now urging consumers to double check their chook meat for white stripes running parallel to the pink muscle.

The lines are indicative of a muscle disorder, known as ‘white striping’, and it can seriously impact the nutritional value of your favourite chicken breast recipes.

A 2013 Italian study found that fillets with severe white striping can have up to 224 per cent more fat compared to your regular fillets.

The same study concluded that, as the fat content increased, the amount of protein decreased.

A) Normal chicken breast B) Mild white striping C) Severe white striping

Despite the potentially deceiving change in nutritional value, a spokesman for the US National Chicken Council (NCC) assured CNBC that white striping “does not create any health or food safety concerns for people.”

For us home-cooks, white striping also “negatively impacts meat quality”, a 2016 US study found. It can cause the meat to dry out more quickly, prevent it from absorbing your marinades, and is generally less flavoursome.

But perhaps even more concerning is that the same research found severe white striping affected 96 per cent of the 285 tested birds.

So why the recent trend in fatter chickens?

It all comes down to supply and demand. As more people turn away from red meats in recent times, farmers are under pressure to breed bigger and better birds more quickly.

These meat chickens, also known as broilers, have been selectively bred over time for their quick growth rate.

According to the American NCC, the average chicken in 2015 weighed in at almost 3 kg after 47 days, compared to 1.3 kg after 70 days back in 1950.

Locally, Singapore observes stringent food safety standards with the AVA‘s effective integrated food safety system in place to ensure that food is safe for consumption. So chicken meats imported here are not prone to white striping and when it is seen, it’s often in a mild form. But for you and your family’s food safety, it is always good practice to check your raw meat and look out for any suspicious obvious white stripes before cooking them. 

With that, let’s tuck into some of our favourite chicken recipes here!

Text & Photos: The Australian Women’s Weekly / Additional Reporting: Sean Tan

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