Plumper Poultry

June 24, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Next time you go to buy chicken, you should look closely at the label. Shopping at the grocery store, chicken or turkey can be a good choice for dinner.But when you get to the checkout counter, you may find you're paying meaty prices for salt water. Take these chicken wings from Peco Farms. A close look at the label shows they've been "enhanced with up to 15 percent chicken broth?" and "protected with up to eight percent chicken broth glaze."

Kim Kleman, Consumer Reports, says "Some poultry companies have been injecting products with broth or immersing them in salty solutions to try to make them tastier and more tender. But pumping up meat can also add water weight and sodium."

Consumer Reports has been examining the food you eat for decades. This time it's taking a closer look at poultry. "Our reporter found chicken and turkey products with up to 30 percent of their weight with broth, flavoring solution, or water. Plus sodium levels were far higher than in poultry that hadn't been juiced up," says Kleman.

This pre-stage premium young turkey breast "contains approximately 15% of a solution." At a cost of $14.61 that means you could be paying up to $2.19 for the added liquid. And this enhanced turkey has a hefty 390 milligrams of sodium per serving.

And look at this package of Tyson chicken wing sections. "100% all natural" is easy to see. But you have to take a much closer look at the smaller print to find it "contains up to 12% natural chicken broth."

Kleman says "Seventy percent of people Consumer Reports surveyed last year said that they think the label 'natural' should mean no salt water is added. For now though, if you want to avoid extra sodium or paying for liquid in poultry you need to read labels carefully."

Consumer Reports says when you see poultry with one to three percent liquid that's probably from processing, not water or broth that's been added.

The department of agriculture is under pressure from congress and some in the poultry industry to tighten the rules on enhanced poultry. The USDA says it's looking into the practice.


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