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Decoding Labels on Chicken Packaging
Decoding Labels on Chicken Packaging

Most consumers rely on the government or supervisory authorities to regulate claims about food. For example, we know to look at the ingredients on a package to see what is in it and we know that the ingredients are listed in order of how much of the ingredient is in the product.

But did you know that chicken product labels are not all regulated? And what do the labels actually mean? Here’s what you need to know.

Free-Range – this only means the chickens are allowed access to the outside, not that they use it. The National Chicken Council says that chickens tend to stay close to their food and water source, which are located indoors.

Hormone-Free – this label is empty as hormones are forbidden in chicken by the US Department of Agriculture.

Natural – this is an empty word and a marketing ploy. Products that use minimal processing and have no artificial ingredients or added color can use this label. Chicken products already meet this definition, so the word is meaningless.

Claims That Have Meaning

Raised Without Antibiotics – are chickens raised with no antibiotics. Why is this important? There is widespread belief that antibiotic use on farms contributes to the antibiotic resistant infections among humans.

Organic – the USDA has very specific and comprehensive requirements for use of the label organic. In the case of chickens, this includes eating organic feed, which drives up the cost of the chicken when it goes to market. However, there is no nutritional advantage and the living conditions of the birds are not necessarily better than for conventional chickens. Some consumers say they have a more robust flavor.

Vegetarian Feed – this means that the chicken feed has no animal by-products. Since chickens are omnivores (eating insects and bugs), the label is meaningless. To appease shoppers, most farmers use corn and soy in their feed.

Source: “Decoding the Labels” Cooking Light, July 2016

A Guide to Chicken Nutrition By the Cut
A Guide to Chicken Nutrition By the Cut

A Guide to Chicken Nutrition By the Cut

Chicken Breasts weigh an average of 8 ounces each, which is 243 calories a portion without any sauce on it. Sauce or marinade is usually needed as breasts tend to be dry.

Bone in, skin on parts cost 44% less than boneless, skinless breasts. Cooking chicken with the skin on and then removing it after cooking results in a tastier, juicier bird with less fat.

Chicken Thighs are the cheapest cut yet have the deepest flavor than other parts of the bird. They have slightly more fat, which makes them the meatiest and juiciest, and richer in nutrients.

Ground Chicken has 20 % skin and 15 % fat, which is the same proportion as a whole chicken. Ground chicken breast, on the other hand, is so dry, that it needs 1 ½ TBS olive oil per pound to keep the mixture juicy.

Source: “Cost and Nutrition by the Cut” Cooking Light, July 2016.