White Stripes In Chicken Meat. What Is It And Does It Matter?

(DougCookRD.com)White striping in chicken meat_Buzzfeed CIWA

White striping on chicken meat (Image credit: BuzzFeed via CIWF)

Perhaps you haven’t heard of the latest food ‘concern’. It’s referred to as “white striping” in chicken. As usual, a lot of buzz, frenzy and fear mongering is floating around the internet about it claiming that anyone who eats chicken does so at their own risk, that our collective health is at stake, and that chicken, a staple for many of us, is no longer nutritious and that the quality of the meat has deteriorated to the point of making it inedible but c’mon, is any of this true?

What the heck are white stripes in chicken?

In short, the white stripes are fat. It’s true that when chickens are allowed to grow to a larger size and to an older age, beyond what is considered optimal by the poultry industry, muscle conditions can occur including slightly more fat being deposited in the meat. However, an important distinction needs to be made; like many other food scares that hit the web, this story refers to what is happening in the United States; Canada has different farming practices and quality standards and standards of care. While issues can arise with the production of any food commodity, this is much rarer because chickens in Canada do not grow as big nor to an older age like they do in the US.

Is there a REAL cause for concern?

It’s important to understand that white stripes in chicken is an issue of meat quality as compared to industry norms versus a health concern; the chicken would have a little more fat than expected per industry standards but even if white striping occurred and the chicken and made it to the grocery stores, the increase in total fat is nutritionally insignificant when you take into account any extra fat in the context of the total diet, or the amount of total food a person eats over the course of a day, week or month.

To be clear, despite what articles on line are suggesting, white stripes in chicken pose ZERO food safety risk.

What you’re really asking yourself; is chicken still a nutritious food?

As part of an overall healthy diet that includes a variety of both animal and plant-based foods, including a variety of preparation methods including both raw and cooked foods, Canadian chicken remains a great source of nutrition. As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, not only do I recommend chicken as a healthy option, I will continue to do so and not change my advice in light of any reports about white stripes in the US chicken market/production. All cuts of chicken, both light and dark meat, are a source of important nutrients such as protein, zinc, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and B vitamins such as B1, B2, B5, B6 and B12 to name a few which, are needed for health by people of all ages.

Chicken breasts with rapini and farfalle_Ken Horner

For more information, visit www.chickenfarmers.ca for all the info about production practices in Canada.

Disclosure: I received compensation from Chicken Farmers of Canada for this blog, however, opinions are my own.

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