Hi friends, I'm sorry if this has already been addressed on here but I wanted to bring it up just so others will know. I'm new to primal/paleo eating and I'm paying closer attention to food labels.
A few weeks ago I purchased some organic chicken from the supermarket. Unfortunately pastured chicken isn't readily available where I live so I had to go with the next best choice, or so I thought. These were bone-in, skin-on breasts. I also purchased legs and froze them. I roasted the breasts in the oven and when I cut them, there was about 1/4 cup liquid that poured out from each breast. I had only seasoned them with salt, pepper, and herbs. They were not marinated. In addition to all the water, the meat had a very spongy texture. I thought spongy was a strange way to describe it, but that's exactly what it was. I noticed the label said "may contain up to 5% retained water." So I figured this is where the water was coming from.
The following week, I returned to the supermarket and talked to the manager of the meat department. I asked him what that meant about the retained water, and he said he didn't know. He said he would check with the sales rep of that organic line and get back to me. He assured me that they weren't pre-injected with any kind of saltwater solution, and I agreed with that since I have seen that note on packages as well.
Yesterday I was watching an episode of America's Test Kitchen that I had recorded months ago. The episode was about chicken and there was a taste test segment. I was pleasantly surprised when the host began to explain the retained water disclaimer on labels, then I quickly became disgusted. He said you usually see two labels, one which will say "may contain up to x % of retained water," and "air chilled." There are two different methods of cooling chicken after they have been slaughtered. Air chilling is just putting them into a cooler, where the birds cool down slowly and develop flavor. The second is by dipping the freshly slaughtered chicken into huge containers of chlorinated ice water. The chlorinated water method is what causes the chicken to absorb water, and why that disclaimer is on the label. The host also used the word spongy to describe the water-chilled chicken's texture. I couldn't believe it. I really thought I was nuts.
I was so upset. I went to the supermarket last night and EVERY brand of chicken they sold had a disclaimer about retained water. There were none with an air-chilled label. I was pissed because I was paying extra for organic but I was also paying for retained chlorinated water.
There are a few farms near me which sell pastured chickens for $5 a pound. There is also another supermarket about a half hour away which sells pastured, air chilled chickens for $3 a pound. So I might need to go stock up.
I just wanted to let you know in case you come across chicken with a creepy texture that you can't quite put your finger on. "Organic" doesn't mean squat if it's being dipped in chlorine.