Millions of consumers have become more health-focused in regards to their food purchases than ever before in recent years, leading to increased awareness of animal welfare, organic food, pasture-raised meats, and similar topics.
The alleged abuses of the meat industry were spotlighted by the movie ‘Food, Inc.’ and similar documentaries and books that shed light on what consumers were really buying while forking over money for food and meat products whose packaging claimed to be “all-natural.”
Now, a new report from the animal welfare profit the Humane League has many consumers reconsidering their chicken purchases after one of the industry’s long-hidden secrets was exposed as being far more prevalent than many realized.
Report Examines ‘White Striping’ Chicken Phenomenon in 29 States
The goal of the report was to examine supermarkets in 29 states to see if the chicken breasts offered showed instances of “white striping.”
White striping is described by the organization as a “muscle disease that causes white stripes to form in the muscular tissue of some chickens,” occurring when a fast-growing muscle fiber exceeds its blood supply.
According to the report, the types of chickens most often affected by this disease are those that are selectively bred for abnormally fast growth rates, a phenomenon detailed in the aforementioned ‘Food, Inc.’ documentary that has continued to this day despite alleged negative consequences to the health of chickens and human beings alike.
The average chickens raised by today’s farmers have been selectively bred to grow at a rate of approximately 300% faster than those raised in 1960, according to the Animal Equality charitable organization.
Many of these so-called “broiler chickens” become so top-heavy and weak that they have a hard time standing for long periods of time, and eventually collapse under their own weight into a state of forfeiture, despond and disease.
“Standard factory-farmed chickens are bred to grow at an extreme pace, and live in cramped, often dirty conditions,” the report states. “White striping is a muscle disease that is reported to impact 50-96% fast-growing chickens, and is a consequence of fast growth rates,” the report continued.
Other Findings of the Report on White Striping in Chickens
The report also revealed the following among supermarket chicken samples taken:
- 99% of packets examined had one breast fillet or more affected by white striping
- Some supermarkets had white striping in 100% of the packets sampled
- All sixteen supermarkets had white striping disease present in their standard own-brand chicken breast filets
- Worst offenders included Walmart, BJ’s and Meijer, with moderate to severe striping present in 93%, 87%, and 85% of samples taken, respectively
What Causes the ‘White Striping’ Muscle Disease in Chickens?
The report adds that scientists are still studying the causes of this muscle disease in chickens.
The white stripes are telltale signs that the chicken’s body “can’t keep up with the unnaturally fast muscle growth,” the report adds.
“These chickens have so much muscle that they have trouble getting blood to all of it,” it states. “Their muscles become inflamed and die from lack of oxygen. Their bodies replace this muscle with fibrous tissue and fat.”
These diseased chickens generally have more fat and less muscle, just part of the reason why they are deemed to be less healthy for those who consume them.
The Poultry Industry’s Denial
The report also discusses the poultry industry’s response to the issue.
It strongly suggests that the industry does not appear concerned about fixing the problem anytime soon, and likens it to a particular protocol within the beef industry that has become more commonplace over the years.
According to the report, the industry denies that white striping is a problem, stating in various interviews that it is an “indicator of healthy birds, well-fired birds and can be a “’desired thing,’ somewhat like fat marbling in some cuts of beef.’”
Should You Be Concerned About ‘White Striping’ on Your Chicken Breasts?
While the report said that there are no acute health risks to this type of chicken according to studies that have been conducted, the question is whether you want to consistently put white-striped chicken in your body or not, especially since this type of chicken is more likely to be mass-produced and fed diets of genetically engineered corn.
This type of animal feed is also more likely to have been sprayed with large amounts of glyphosate, the cancer-linked Bayer and Monsanto produced chemical that was deemed as such by a the World Health Organization’s top cancer research body in 2015.
The good news is that more farmers and companies are investing in regenerative agriculture and pasture-raised chicken operations.
If you’re looking for a healthier chicken that is likely to be free from the muscular disease of white striping, buying organic and free range chicken breasts like these, or chickens sourced from regenerative farmers are your best bets.
The cost may be a little higher, but it’s well worth it in the long run if you’d like to avoid issues like the ones mentioned in this article — and to support the healthiest chickens for yourself, your family and the environment.