Would you like extra fat with your chicken breast sir. A serving of muscle disorder perhaps? Known as white striping, it is a condition that affects nearly all chickens raised under intense conditions (factory farming). Look at any packet of supermarket chicken breast that is not free range or organic and you will most likely see it for yourself.
White striping has become common in recent years. According to a 2016 study by the University of Arkansas and Texas A&M, after testing a total of 285 birds, the study found that 96% had white striping. This is a similar picture in the UK and Europe where the same type of hybrid birds are raised for meat under the same conditions as in the US.
It is visible as white striations parallel to muscle fiber on surface of breast. The birds suffer from a muscular disorder, similar to muscular dystrophy, due to the way they are raised (all they really do is eat), they double the size in half the time, genetically manipulated to make them bigger than nature intended with around an 80% increase in the amount of breast meat.
What are the effects of white striping:
- Breast fillets affected by severe white striping have been found to contain up to 224% more fat and 9% less protein than normal breast meat
- Muscle disorders like white striping are chronic, degenerative conditions that cause pain and suffering in broiler chickens
- Lower quality meat overall, with woody breast also often being present, making the meat chewer as well as fattier.
White striping is considered as moderate to severe, any white striping has the same effects to varying degrees.
Good chicken isn’t cheap and cheap chicken isn’t good. You don’t have to have a degree in biology to understand that encouraging chickens to eat 23 hrs a day, giving them little room to move and growing them to full size in 35 days isn’t good for anyone.
How do you avoid white striping?
Don’t buy intensively farmed chicken in any form; in the supermarket, in a restaurant, as fast food, in a sandwiches. Remember if it isn’t labelled free range or organic it is intensively farmed. Farm fresh, corn fed, Red tractor, it is all intensively farmed. RSPCA assured is a higher standard and a better choice, but still indoor farmed. In the supermarket choose free range or organic chicken.
The best way to buy chicken is from an independent farmer, available online if not locally, one that is proud to tell you why they are real farmers. There is a price difference but it is for a good reason, you are not comparing the same product. If you have never had a slow grown roast chicken you will never have tasted real chicken. If your budget is tight or as part of cutting down on meat intake aim for – eat less meat, but eat better meat. Check out these websites and you’ll see what I mean:
Pheasant breast is a very good alternative to chicken, available of line or if you live in a rural area and can find the butcher that processes game meat if it a very good option. I’ll write a separate post about pheasant.
Parting thoughts: We don’t like problems we can see. Take hock burns, a lot of producers deal with it by cutting the lower leg joints off, so rather than fix the cause, they cut it off so you can’t see.
The industry hasn’t found a way to ‘get rid’ of white striping yet, but we sure they are working on it. Sadly it won’t be by improving conditions and dealing with the real cause, the focus will be on whether you can see it or not. It is the choices you make that have the highest impact on the behaviour of the industry.
As well as the things we can see, there are many things we can’t see. Altering nature to get bigger, faster cheaper has consequences. For more info see https://wp.me/p7RDjy-cS
Cluck cluck, the Ethical omnivore