If you’re a meat-eater, you may have noticed white lines showing up on your chicken breasts. Not to be confused with natural fat, these white stripes are actually kind of a big problem — and they’re hardly natural.
A new video from Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), an animal welfare group, highlights “white striping,” which is indicative of muscular disorders in factory farm-raised chicken. According to CIWF, about 96 percent of today’s conventionally raised chicken may have muscular disorders, resulting in up to 224 percent more fat than chicken raised in more natural conditions.
Problems for Chickens
In order to get more sellable chicken flesh faster and more cheaply, factory farms use growth hormones, high-calorie feed and other techniques to boost the weight and growth rates of chickens used for meat. In fact, according to the National Chicken Council, the average size and age of a chicken sent to market has increased from 3.08 pounds and 70 days old in 1950 to 6.24 pounds and 47 days old in 2015. Think about it: The size of a mature chicken has more than doubled in the last 50 years, while its lifespan has decreased by 23 days. That means that factory farmed chickens’ growth rates are skyrocketing.
This, of course, causes severe physical problems for chickens while they are alive. Muscular disorders that cause white striping are thought to be the direct result of unprecedented growth rates. And, most sadly, chickens that experience these kinds of disorders are likely to endure chronic pain for most of their lives.
Problems for Consumers
And it’s not just chickens who suffer as a result of these practices. By consuming 224 percent more fat in what’s considered to be a lean protein source, consumers are taking in a lot more fat than is natural from chicken meat. It’s no secret that obesity and obesity-related disorders are a big problem in the United States.
“Conditions like white striping and wooden breast seriously affect the nutritional value and quality of chicken meat,” claims the report by CIWF. “Breast fillets affected by severe white striping have been found to contain up to 224 percent more fat and 9 percent less protein than normal breast meat.”
When consumers decide to shy away from heavily processed foods and turn to natural products like chicken meat, they’re trying to make a healthy choice for their bodies. But fatty meat from white-striped chickens is significantly less nutritious than chicken meat ought to be.