Wednesday, February 27, 2008

What's an "Air-Chilled" Bird?

Many of you may have noticed some newer packaging by chicken companies with the words "Air Chilled" slapped right on top of the wrapper.
Well, that's a good thing. When you see the Air-Chilled mark, pick it up and drop the Tyson or Perdue chicken in your other hand. You'll thank me later.

Where credit is due : Giannone Chickens were one of the birds to use the Air-Chilled technology in their slaughtering methods.
It is my favorite Chicken in the NY market to date. I prefer these birds over Eberly's, Murray's, and even Label Rouge.
Giannone birds are tremendously flavorful, and have great meat structure. THE perfect bird for a roast.

When chicken are slaughtered, they are usually (95% of the time) thrown into an ice-water bath so that the body temperature can quickly drop under 40 degrees F.
Now when you consider cleanliness, how clean can the chicken be if they are all exposed to the same pool of water?
If one bird is contaminated with unwanted bacteria, etc... you can bet all other birds to follow are exposed to the same bacteria until the water is changed. Not the case with Air-Chilling.
Plus, depending on how long the birds are left in the water bath, water is absorbed into the meat.
What this means is you are paying extra for water instead of chicken.

By law, the US government allows 15% water absorption on retail chicken sold at your supermarkets.
Water makes the product more expensive (because it's heavier), with a higher chance of bacterial contamination, in addition to diluted flavors and structural damage to the protein itself.

If you are looking for a real chicken, something your parents or grandparents ate when they grew up, keep in mind the Air-Chilled mark.
If the farmer is investing in an Air Chilling facility, he definitely cares about his birds and most likely uses very minimal amounts of Hormones and Antibiotics in his feed, if non at all.

Good husbandry + Good slaughtering methods = Good products for you and your family.


M:L said...

Thanks so much for explaining that...I just bought some "air-chilled" at Whole Foods and just went on trust. Had no idea what they were talking about. Just another reason to go into debt shopping there, I guess!

Porthos said...

hope you liked the bird.
Whole Foods is beacon of hope for the organic movement but at times, i fear the power of Capitalism swaying them to turn a blind eye on quality. all in all, they are very good and i highly recommend their products for my own family as well.

you are right though, about going in debt there. i'm surprised Visa, Mastercard or even Amex hasn't given them a Credit Card so people can rack up points at Whole Foods.