FOOD, FACTS and FADS

Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

Bird Words

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Official seal of the National Organic Program

Image via Wikipedia


Confused about what all the terms mean on chicken labels these days? Take a look.

Air-chilled: Carcass was subjected to cold air and mist, designed to inhibit microbial growth.  The alternative is dipping carcasses in icy chlorinated water, which can cause cross-contamination if improperly managed.

Free-farmed: The American Humane Association verified that the chickens were raised in a healthful environment and had access to enough clean food and water.

Free-range, free roaming: Poultry has had access to the outdoors, even if the means only that the door to the chicken house was left open briefly each day.

Fresh: The bird’s internal temperature has never dropped below 24 degrees F.  Still, the chicken may be slightly frozen.

Kosher: The chicken was prepared according to Jewish dietary laws.  Salt was added as part of the process.

Natural: No artificial ingredients, preservatives, or colors were added.  The bird was “minimally processed” in a way that did not fundamentally alter the raw product.

No antibiotics administered, raised without antibiotics: Don’t assume this was verified unless you also see “USDA organic”.

No hormones: Pointless.  The USDA prohibits the use of hormones in raising poultry.

USDA organic:  A USDA-accredited certifier has checked that the chicken company followed standards including: chickens were raised without antibiotics, ate 100 percent organic feed without animal byproducts, and could go outdoors (though they may not have).

For more about labels, see. www.eco-labels.org.

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