Americans love their chicken, whether it's a healthy baked chicken breast, a not-as-healthy breaded nugget, or finger lickin' shredded barbecue chicken in the crock pot.
Chicken consumption is unarguably high in the U.S. But unfortunately, in order to meet the high demand for this healthy source of animal protein, chickens' growth process has been amplified -and that practice has led to the development of disorders and diseases in the very chicken that's perched on your dinner table.
In 2015, almost nine billion broiler chickens weighing 53 billion pounds live weight total were produced in the United States. More than 40 billion pounds of chicken meat was marketed in the United States, too, showing just how high in demand this delicious bird is.
According to Compassion in World Farming, there has been an increase in the scientific reporting of myopathies, or muscle tissue disorders, in broiler hens. Those conditions include wooden breast and white striping. In fact, the incidence of white striping has been found to be as high as 96.1 percent, a report from the organization noted.
So what's wrong with having white striping in your chicken? The white striping means the cut of chicken you're about to consume has upwards of 224 percent more fat and nine percent less protein than normal breast meat without white striping. That's because those white stripes are fat and change the overall nutritional value and flavor of the meat.
Compassion in World Farming reported that in 2001, a Ross 308 broiler weighed on average 4.7 pounds at 43 days of age, but in 2012, that same bird weighed 4.7 pounds at just 35 days. Its breast weight had increased by more than one pound. Broiler lines genetically selected for increased muscle mass also have muscle fibers three to five times larger in diameter, too.
The industry routinely uses breast meat severely affected by white striping for processed chicken products like nuggets and sausages. But meat that is graded as "moderately affected" is still marketed alongside meat without white striping. So consumers must look closely for any marbling in their chicken when grocery shopping.
Here's more about what white striping means for you as a consumer.
The good news about this white striping situation is that studies show conditions like white striping are reported only in intensive poultry production operations, also known as factory farms. The chicken raised by smaller operations or individual farmers tend not to have white striping in the meat. So the next time you're shopping for chicken, take a second look and make sure you're picking the perfect cut of poultry for your dinner.