Chicken is the most common type of poultry in the world.
In developed countries, chickens are typically subject to intensive
3 Edible components
4.1 Use of
Roxarsone in chicken production
4.2 Antibiotic resistance
Fecal matter contamination
5 Marketing and sales
8 See also
10 External links
The modern chicken is a descendant of red junglefowl hybrids along
with the grey junglefowl first raised thousands of years ago in the
northern parts of the Indian subcontinent.
Chicken as a meat has been depicted in Babylonian carvings from around
Chicken was one of the most common meats available in the
Middle Ages. It was eaten over most of the Eastern
hemisphere and a number of different kinds of chicken such as capons,
pullets and hens were eaten. It was one of the basic ingredients in
blancmange, a stew usually consisting of chicken and fried onions
cooked in milk and seasoned with spices and sugar.
Oven ready chicken
Chicken wings being barbequed
In the United States in the 1800s, chicken was more expensive than
other meats and it was "sought by the rich because [it is] so costly
as to be an uncommon dish".
Chicken consumption in the U.S.
World War II
World War II due to a shortage of beef and pork.
In Europe, consumption of chicken overtook that of beef and veal in
1996, linked to consumer awareness of Bovine spongiform encephalopathy
(mad cow disease).
Modern varieties of chicken such as the Cornish Cross, are bred
specifically for meat production, with an emphasis placed on the ratio
of feed to meat produced by the animal. The most common breeds of
chicken consumed in the U.S. are Cornish and White Rock.
Chickens raised specifically for food are called broilers. In the
U.S., broilers are typically butchered at a young age. Modern Cornish
Cross hybrids, for example, are butchered as early as 8 weeks for
fryers and 12 weeks for roasting birds.
Capons (castrated cocks) produce more and fattier meat. For this
reason, they are considered a delicacy and were particularly popular
in the Middle Ages.
Poultry § Cuts of poultry
Oven-roasted rosemary and lemon chicken
Breast: These are white meat and are relatively dry.
Leg: Comprises two segments:
The "drumstick"; this is dark meat and is the lower part of the leg,
the "thigh"; also dark meat, this is the upper part of the leg.
Wing: Often served as a light meal or bar food.
Buffalo wings are a
typical example. Comprises three segments:
the "drumette", shaped like a small drumstick, this is white meat,
the middle "flat" segment, containing two bones, and
the tip, often discarded.
Chicken feet: These contain relatively little meat, and are eaten
mainly for the skin and cartilage. Although considered exotic in
Western cuisine, the feet are common fare in other cuisines,
especially in the Caribbean and China.
Giblets: organs such as the heart, gizzards, and liver may be included
inside a butchered chicken or sold separately.
Head: Considered a delicacy in China, the head is split down the
middle, and the brains and other tissue is eaten.
Kidneys: Normally left in when a broiler carcass is processed, they
are found in deep pockets on each side of the vertebral column.
Neck: This is served in various Asian dishes. It is stuffed to make
helzel among Ashkenazi Jews.
Oysters: Located on the back, near the thigh, these small, round
pieces of dark meat are often considered to be a delicacy.
Pygostyle (chicken's buttocks) and testicles: These are commonly eaten
East Asia and some parts of South East Asia.
Blood: Immediately after slaughter, blood may be drained into a
receptacle, which is then used in various products. In many Asian
countries, the blood is poured into low, cylindrical forms, and left
to congeal into disc-like cakes for sale. These are commonly cut into
cubes, and used in soup dishes.
Carcass: After the removal of the flesh, this is used for soup
Chicken eggs: The most well-known and well-consumed byproduct.
Heart and gizzard: in Brazilian churrascos, chicken hearts are an
often seen delicacy.
Liver: This is the largest organ of the chicken, and is used in such
Pâté and chopped liver.
Schmaltz: This is produced by rendering the fat, and is used in
Chicken meat contains about two to three times as much polyunsaturated
fat than most types of red meat when measured as weight
Chicken generally includes low fat in the meat itself (castrated
roosters excluded). The fat is highly concentrated on the skin. A 100g
serving of baked chicken breast contains 4 grams of fat and 31 grams
of protein, compared to 10 grams of fat and 27 grams of protein for
the same portion of broiled, lean skirt steak.
Roxarsone in chicken production
In factory farming, chickens are routinely administered with the feed
additive Roxarsone, an organoarsenic compound which partially
decomposes into inorganic arsenic compounded in the flesh of chickens,
and in their feces, which are often used as a fertilizer. The
compound is used to control stomach pathogens and promote growth. In a
2013 sample conducted by the
Johns Hopkins School of Public Health
Johns Hopkins School of Public Health of
chicken meat from poultry producers that did not prohibit roxarsone,
70% of the samples in the US had levels which exceeded the safety
limits as set by the FDA. The FDA has since revised its stance on
safe limits to inorganic arsenic in animal feed by stating that "any
new animal drug that contributes to the overall inorganic arsenic
burden is of potential concern".
Information obtained by the Canadian Integrated Program for
Antimicrobial Resistance (CIPARS) "strongly indicates that
cephalosporin resistance in humans is moving in lockstep with the use
of the drug in poultry production". According to the Canadian Medical
Association Journal, the unapproved antibiotic ceftiofur is routinely
injected into eggs in Quebec and Ontario to discourage infection of
hatchlings. Although the data are contested by the industry,
antibiotic resistance in humans appears to be directly related to the
antibiotic's use in eggs.
A recent study by the
Translational Genomics Research Institute
Translational Genomics Research Institute showed
that nearly half (47%) of the meat and poultry in US grocery stores
was contaminated with S. aureus, with more than half (52%) of those
bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Furthermore, as per the FDA,
more than 25% of retail chicken is resistant to 5 or more different
classes of antibiotic treatment drugs in the United States. An
estimated 90–100% of conventional chicken contains, at least, one
form of antibiotic resistance microorganism, while organic chicken has
been found to have a lower incidence at 84%.
Fecal matter contamination
In random surveys of chicken products across the United States in
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine found 48% of
samples to contain fecal matter. On most commercial chicken farms
(CAFO), the chickens spend their entire life standing in, lying on,
and living in their own manure, which is somewhat mixed in with the
bedding material (e.g. sawdust, wood shavings, chopped straw, etc.).
During shipping from the CAFO farm to the abattoir, the chickens are
usually placed inside shipping crates that usually have slatted
floors. Those crates are then piled 5 to 10 rows high on the transport
truck to the abattoir. During shipment, the chickens tend to defecate,
and that chicken manure tends to sit inside the crowded cages,
contaminating the feathers and skin of the chickens, or rains down
upon the chickens and crates on the lower levels of the transport
truck. By the time the truck gets to the abattoir, most chickens have
had their skin and feathers contaminated with feces.
There is also fecal matter in the intestines. While the slaughter
process removes the feathers and intestines, only visible fecal matter
is removed. The high speed automated processes at the abattoir are
not designed to remove this fecal contamination on the feather and
skin. The high speed processing equipment tend to spray the
contamination around to the birds going down the processing line, and
the equipment on the line itself. At one or more points on most
abattoirs, chemical sprays and baths (e.g. bleach, acids, peroxides,
etc.) are used to partially rinse off or kill this bacterial
contamination. Unfortunately, the fecal contamination, once it has
occurred, especially in the various membranes between the skin and
muscle, is impossible to completely remove.
With slaughter lines processing up to 140 birds/minute, safety
inspectors do not have adequate time to properly examine visible fecal
USDA is currently allowing some abattoirs to process
at unlimited line speeds (i.e. in excess of 140 birds/minute), further
exascerbating the fecal contamination issue.
Marketing and sales
A poussin, or juvenile chicken
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Juvenile chickens of less than 28 days of age at slaughter in the
United Kingdom are marketed as poussin. Mature chicken is sold as
small, medium or large.
Whole mature chickens are marketed in the United States as fryers,
broilers, and roasters. Fryers are the smallest size (2.5-4 lbs
dressed for sale), and the most common, as chicken reach this size
quickly (about 7 weeks). Most dismembered packaged chicken would be
sold whole as fryers. Broilers are larger than fryers. They are
typically sold whole. Roasters, or roasting hens, are the largest
chickens commonly sold (3–5 months and 6-8 lbs) and are
typically more expensive. Even larger and older chickens are called
stewing chickens but these are no longer usually found commercially.
The names reflect the most appropriate cooking method for the surface
area to volume ratio. As the size increases, the volume (which
determines how much heat must enter the bird for it to be cooked)
increases faster than the surface area (which determines how fast heat
can enter the bird). For a fast method of cooking, such as frying, a
small bird is appropriate: frying a large piece of chicken results in
the inside being undercooked when the outside is ready.
Chicken is also sold in dismembered pieces. Pieces may include
quarters, or fourths of the chicken. A chicken is typically cut into
two leg quarters and two breast quarters. Each quarter contains two of
the commonly available pieces of chicken. A leg quarter contains the
thigh, drumstick and a portion of the back; a leg has the back portion
removed. A breast quarter contains the breast, wing and portion of the
back; a breast has the back portion and wing removed. Pieces may be
sold in packages of all of the same pieces, or in combination
packages. Whole chicken cut up refers to either the entire bird cut
into 8 individual pieces. (8-piece cut); or sometimes without the
back. A 9-piece cut (usually for fast food restaurants) has the tip of
the breast cut off before splitting. Pick of the chicken, or similar
titles, refers to a package with only some of the chicken pieces,
typically the breasts, thighs, and legs without wings or back. Thighs
and breasts are sold boneless and/or skinless.
Chicken livers and/or
gizzards are commonly available packaged separately. Other parts of
the chicken, such as the neck, feet, combs, etc. are not widely
available except in countries where they are in demand, or in cities
that cater to ethnic groups who favor these parts.
There are many fast food restaurant chains on both a national and
global scale that sell exclusively or primarily poultry products
Red Rooster (Australia), Hector Chicken
(Belgium) and CFC (Indonesia). Most of the products on the menus in
such eateries are fried or breaded and are served with french fries.
Marination of chicken for grilling
United States Department of Agriculture
United States Department of Agriculture classifies cuts of poultry
in a manner similar to beef.
Chicken with mushrooms, tomatoes and spices.
Oven roasted chicken with potatoes.
Chicken Peking (Philippines)
Butter chicken masala (India)
Raw chicken may contain salmonella. The safe minimum cooking
temperature recommended by the U.S. Department of Health & Human
Services is 165 °F (74 °C) to prevent foodborne illness
because of bacteria and parasites. However, in Japan raw chicken
is sometimes consumed in a dish called torisashi, which is sliced raw
chicken served in sashimi style. Another preparation is toriwasa which
is lightly seared on the outsides while the inside remains raw.
Chicken can be cooked in many ways. It can be made into sausages,
skewered, put in salads, traditionally grilled or by using electric
grill, breaded and deep-fried, or used in various curries. There is
significant variation in cooking methods amongst cultures.
Historically common methods include roasting, baking, broasting, and
frying. Western cuisine frequently has chicken prepared by deep frying
for fast foods such as fried chicken, chicken nuggets, chicken
lollipops or Buffalo wings. They are also often grilled for salads or
Chickens often come with labels such as "roaster", which suggest a
method of cooking based on the type of chicken. While these labels are
only suggestions, ones labeled for stew often do not do well when
cooked with other methods.
Some chicken breast cuts and processed chicken breast products include
the moniker "with rib meat". This is a misnomer, as it refers to the
small piece of white meat that overlays the scapula, removed along
with the breast meat. The breast is cut from the chicken and sold as a
solid cut, while the leftover breast and true rib meat is stripped
from the bone through mechanical separation for use in chicken franks,
for example. Breast meat is often sliced thinly and marketed as
chicken slices, an easy filling for sandwiches. Often, the tenderloin
(pectoralis minor) is marketed separately from the breast (pectoralis
major). In the US, "tenders" can be either tenderloins or strips cut
from the breast. In the UK the strips of pectoralis minor are called
Chicken bones are hazardous to health as they tend to break into sharp
splinters when eaten, but they can be simmered with vegetables and
herbs for hours or even days to make chicken stock.
In Asian countries it is possible to buy bones alone as they are very
popular for making chicken soups, which are said to be healthy. In
Australia the rib cages and backs of chickens after the other cuts
have been removed are frequently sold cheaply in supermarket
delicatessen sections as either "chicken frames" or "chicken
carcasses" and are purchased for soup or stock purposes.
Raw chicken maintains its quality longer in the freezer, as moisture
is lost during cooking. There is little change in nutrient value
of chicken during freezer storage. For optimal quality, however, a
maximal storage time in the freezer of 12 months is recommended for
uncooked whole chicken, 9 months for uncooked chicken parts, 3 to 4
months for uncooked chicken giblets, and 4 months for cooked
chicken. Freezing doesn't usually cause color changes in poultry,
but the bones and the meat near them can become dark. This bone
darkening results when pigment seeps through the porous bones of young
poultry into the surrounding tissues when the poultry meat is frozen
It is safe to freeze chicken directly in its original packaging, but
this type of wrap is permeable to air and quality may diminish over
time. Therefore, for prolonged storage, it is recommended to overwrap
these packages. It is recommended to freeze unopened vacuum
packages as is. If a package has accidentally been torn or has
opened while food is in the freezer, the food is still safe to use,
but it is still recommended to overwrap or rewrap it. Chicken
should be away from other foods, so if they begin to thaw, their
juices won't drip onto other foods. If previously frozen chicken
is purchased at a retail store, it can be refrozen if it has been
Chicken can be cooked or reheated from the frozen state, but it will
take approximately one and a half times as long to cook, and any
wrapping or absorbent paper should be discarded. There are three
generally accepted safe methods of reheating frozen chicken: in the
refrigerator, in cold water, or using a microwave oven. These
methods are endorsed by the FDA as safe, as they minimize the risk of
bacterial growth. Bacteria survives but does not grow in freezing
temperatures. However, if frozen cooked foods are not defrosted
properly and are not reheated to temperatures that kill bacteria,
chances of getting a foodborne illness greatly increase.
Chickens as pets
List of chicken dishes
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