When it comes to our food, transparency and honesty are essential. That is why our farm "mantra" is "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food".
Unfortunately, in the world of food production, there are practices that remain hidden from the average consumer. One such practice is chicken plumping, a controversial technique used in the poultry industry.
What is Chicken Plumping? Chicken plumping, also known as "enhanced" or "injection" chicken, refers to a process in which raw chicken is injected with a solution containing various additives, primarily water, salt, and sometimes other substances such as flavorings, preservatives, and stabilizers. This injection process is intended to increase the weight and moisture content of the chicken, making it appear plumper and more visually appealing. The solution can account for up to 15%, or more, of the chicken’s weight.
Why is Chicken Plumping Used? Increased Weight: The primary reason behind chicken plumping is economic. By injecting water and other solutions into chicken, producers can increase the weight of the product, allowing them to charge more per pound. This practice can be particularly appealing to poultry companies looking to boost their profits. If you purchase a package of injected chicken for $6, you will likely be paying at least $1 to $1.50 for the salt water solution and you are likely consuming at least 1000 milligrams of added sodium. One chicken breast could eat up 60% of your sodium intake before you even start eating the rest of the meal!
Improved Texture and Flavor: Proponents of chicken plumping argue that it can result in juicier, more tender meat with enhanced flavor. The added salt and water are believed to help the meat retain moisture during cooking. This process still didn’t help with the flavor, SO “natural flavor” was added in the form of broth, lemon concentrates and corn syrup or other forms of sugar.
Early on sodium phosphate was also added as a binder, to help the chicken retain water during shipping and cooking. To allow for ‘low sodium’ labels, this ingredient was replaced with potassium phosphate. Since potassium phosphate makes meat taste more bitter, even more ‘natural flavors’ were needed to mask the flavor.
You will still find the words ‘All-Natural’ , "Organic" on the label, as long as all the ingredients that they injected into the chicken are legally considered as natural or organic.
Extended Shelf Life: Some additives used in the plumping process, like preservatives and stabilizers, can help extend the shelf life of the chicken, reducing the likelihood of spoilage and food waste.
Concerns and Controversies While chicken plumping may offer economic benefits to producers, it has garnered its fair share of criticism and concerns from consumers, health experts, and advocacy groups. Here are some of the main issues associated with this practice:
Misleading Labeling: Chicken plumping can make it difficult for consumers to accurately determine the true meat content of the product. Labels may not always reflect the added water and other additives, leading to potential deception for consumers seeking high-quality, unadulterated poultry.
Nutritional Concerns: The injection of salt and other additives can significantly increase the sodium content of plumped chicken. Excessive sodium intake is linked to various health issues, including high blood pressure and heart disease, making it a concern for those who are health-conscious.
Reduced Value: Consumers who purchase plumped chicken may be paying more per pound for added water weight, reducing the overall value they receive.
Environmental Impact: The extra water used in chicken plumping has environmental implications, as it requires more resources for production and transportation. Additionally, the excess water in chicken can contribute to water pollution during processing.
Why is this something we think is important?
Chicken plumping is a controversial practice that has both its proponents and critics. While it can offer economic benefits to the poultry industry, it raises important questions about transparency, labeling, nutrition, and environmental impact.
As a consumer, it's essential to be informed about the food you purchase. Ultimately, understanding the practices behind the food you eat empowers you to make informed decisions about what goes on your plate.
So.... ready to try a Farm Fresh, NO additives chicken? We have new chicks in the "hopper" right now that will be ready for your table the week of December 4th. As always we welcome any questions and can make it possible for you to tour our farm if you'd like to see how your food is raised.
Thank you for supporting local farmers, we so appreciate each and every one of you!
Try one of our chicken recipes here: https://www.backhomefarms.net/_files/ugd/8ff0ef_ef1fa16b799f4f7ca785348d880006ad.pdf