We’ll admit it, chicken breasts have been our go-to healthy meal for as long as we can remember, but now we’re finding out that chicken breast might not be as healthy as we thought. Well, not allchicken breasts — only the ones with white stripes. Like any avid chicken eater, we’ve seen white stripes on our poultry, but we definitely wish we knew this before consuming those breasts.
According to a video from activist group Compassion in World Farming, “white striping” is a unique muscular condition that is affecting 96 percent of our chickens. Unfortunately, white stripes on chicken equate to 224 percent more fat and less protein. A 2013 study published in Poultry Sciencealso found that the level of fat increased and muscle decreased based on the degree of white striping.
You’re probably wondering how and why this “white striping” condition happens, and it’s pretty alarming. Farmers have been known to genetically alter their chickens to make them bigger and more useful, but this greatly harms the chicken’s muscles, most obviously forming white stripes across the breasts and resulting in lower-quality meat. According to BuzzFeed, the condition can be identifiedby “the white stripes in breast meat that run parallel to the muscle fibers.”
However, it’s important to point out that while the Department of Agriculture regulates nutritional information and labeling of chicken packages, variation most definitely exists and no two chicken breasts are ever alike. A spokesperson for the National Chicken Council told BuzzFeed that white striping affects “only a small percentage of chicken meat,” and that it “does not create any health or food safety concerns for people and the welfare of the chicken itself is not negatively impacted.”
Chicken is still a healthy choice, but as consumers, we should definitely be looking out for these lines on our meat.