Welcome back! In my last blog post I discussed the differences between organic and natural foods. In this blog I will continue the discussion by talking about some other common terms used in food packaging. In particular, I will discuss the terms used to describe our chicken.
So let’s talk chicken. When eating chicken there are only a couple of different options for how your chicken can be packaged and delivered and how your chicken lived before it was packaged. In other words, you can either have fresh or frozen chicken and caged or cage-free chicken. These terms are pretty simple to understand but let’s go over them to see how well you truly understand them with a curve ball or two as well.
Fresh chicken: There is no better way to eating chicken than fresh chicken. But what I think of fresh chicken is different to how the USDA refers to it as. According to the USDA, a chicken is considered to be fresh if its temperature has never dropped below 26°F or -3°C. This is a reason why fresh chicken always has the “keep refrigerated” label.
Frozen chicken: Since we can’t always eat a fresh chicken eating frozen chicken is the next best option. Chicken is considered to be frozen if it is held below 0°F or -17°C.
Mechanically Separated Poultry: Well here is a curve ball I mentioned earlier. I like to call this the dirty bird or “wild card chicken.” This type of chicken is commonly found in canned chicken and resembles that of canned tuna. This poultry product as the USDA states is, “produced by forcing the bones with attached edible tissue through a sieve.” As you might have guessed, this is my least recommended form of eating chicken.
Caged Chicken: If you don’t know this by now chickens are used for eggs and their meat. Caged chickens are genetically modified and are confined to cages to produce eggs or are harvested for their meat. Claims are made that these caged chickens do not carry the same nutrients as cage free chickens since they are not allowed to roam.
Cage-Free Chicken: Also known as free range or free roaming chickens, cage free chickens have the ability to wander outside. At least in theory, check out what this article for further detail. What you find might make you think twice about what free-range and cage-free chicken really mean.
Hormone free chicken: USDA does not allow the use of hormones of any kind to be used in poultry so this term can be literally used to describe any and all type of chicken. So don’t be fooled by this label.
Hopefully this is helpful in selecting the right type of chicken for your next meal. I strongly believe knowing these differences can help you make the best food decision possible or at the very least it will make you more aware of the differences in your chicken. Who knows, you might actually taste some subtle differences between the different types of chickens. Do you prefer fresh or frozen chicken? Leave your comment below and follow me on twitter.