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Does Your Chicken Have White Strands in the Meat?

If it looks like your chicken breasts belong on a turkey, you can just about be certain that the chicken you’re purchased has been bred and fed to grow bigger, faster, in a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO). But, according to KentLive, another way of telling if your chicken’s a victim of the bigger, fatter trend is to look at the meat.

If it has lots of white stripes running through it, that means it has more fat, an indicator of the living conditions under which the chicken was raised. While the stripes aren’t harmful to your health, the more stripes there are, the harder it is to marinate the meat; it’s also less tender. Industry representatives stressed that it’s still safe to eat, though.

The living conditions this article is referring to — CAFOs — are how 90 percent of all chicken meat and eggs are produced in the U.S. And despite what the growers of these massive operations would have you believe, one of the hidden health hazards of CAFO foods is foodborne Illness.

For example, salmonella is frequently associated with chicken. One study by the USDA Agricultural Research Service found that chicken samples gathered at the end of production after having been cut into parts, as you would purchase in the grocery store, had an astonishing positive rate of 26.2 percent contamination with salmonella.

What's more, it's recently been suggested that urinary tract infections (UTIs) may be a foodborne illness caused by eating chicken contaminated with certain strains of E. coli.

Chicken is also a notorious carrier of camplylobacter, clostridium perfringens and listeria bacteria, but salmonella contamination is of particular concern as multidrug-resistant salmonella has become prevalent in recent years.

In numbers, between 2009 and 2015, there were 5,760 reported foodborne outbreaks resulting in 100,939 illnesses, 5699 hospitalizations and 145 deaths — and chicken was responsible for the most outbreak-associated illnesses.

So what can you do to avoid all this illness? Start by refusing to purchase CAFO-derived chicken. Going certified organic may cost more, but it will give you an assurance that the chicken you eat was raised in more humanitarian conditions and not given growth hormones or antibiotics. (Plus, it will most likely give you less white striping, too.)

When you do bring home your chicken, take commonsense precautions in the kitchen. Kitchens are notorious breeding grounds for disease-causing bacteria, courtesy of the contamination that comes in from raw meats. To avoid cross-contamination between foods in your kitchen, adhere to the following recommendations:

  • Use a designated cutting board, preferably wood, not plastic, for raw meat and poultry, and never use this board for other food preparation, such as cutting up vegetables. Color coding your cutting boards is a simple way to distinguish between them
  • To sanitize your cutting board, use hot water and detergent. Simply wiping it off with a rag will not destroy the bacteria
  • For an inexpensive, safe and effective kitchen counter and cutting board sanitizer, use 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and vinegar. Keep each liquid in a separate spray bottle, and then spray the surface with one, followed by the other, and wipe off
  • Coconut oil can also be used to clean, treat and sanitize your wooden cutting boards. It's loaded with lauric acid that has potent antimicrobial actions. The fats will also help condition the wood

Finally, properly wash your hands with plain soap and water before and after handling raw meats.

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