Chicken Myths

Chicken Myths

Chicken Myths

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When it comes to chicken, there are quite a few myths and misconceptions. With the help of the National Chicken Council, let’s get the facts straight:

Fact: All employees must prove their eligibility to work through appropriate paperwork (I-9 Process) submitted through the federal government’s E-Verify internet-based system. Temporary employees must also comply with the I-9 Process through their contracted agency. Mountaire encourages all temporary workers to transition to full-time employees to enjoy the full benefits that our company offers.

Fact: No employee is ever required to work while sick. Our employees are encouraged to stay home when sick, especially during COVID-19, and are temperature-checked entering any facility. As essential employees, poultry workers play a critical role in feeding the world; however, worker health and safety is Mountaire’s top priority.

Fact: All employees are provided the necessary personal protective equipment to perform their jobs free of charge. This includes items such as aprons, hairnets, gloves, boots, hearing protection, bump caps and more. Employees may purchase additional items if they desire. Due to COVID-19, we have supplied additional equipment such as face masks, face coverings, and face shields (as applicable) for all employees.

Fact: We’re not even sure where this rumor came from, but the answer is absolutely NOT.

Mountaire Farms follows very strict protocols as to how we humanely handle our birds, especially during processing. We meet or exceed all U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Guidelines, and our process is audited by third party groups that verify we are adhering to or surpassing all guidelines. Additionally, our company has never been cited for any deviation to those practices. Mountaire Farms keeps animal welfare as our top priority and any birds that aren’t processed correctly are humanly removed from production. We have a zero tolerance policy for abusing animals, and there is absolutely no financial gain in doing so.

Earlier this year, our company became One Health Certified™, which means we’ve opted to go above and beyond traditional methods for raising poultry and made a commitment to responsible, sustainable, and transparent animal care practices.

Fact: There are no genetically modified meats available. No commercially available chickens are genetically modified, not for any purpose.

Fact: Actually, federal regulations require a “withdrawal” period before any animal given antibiotics is allowed to re-enter the food supply chain. It’s a larger welfare concern to not administer antibiotics to a sick chicken, which is why Mountaire follows the One Health Certified program. Learn more here

Fact: No meat you buy in the store comes from a chicken that was raised in a cage. Broiler chickens (chickens raised for meat) live in growout houses, which – as their namesake implies – provide enough space for chicks to literally “grow out” into full sized chickens. In fact, the houses are built in a way that each bird can eat, drink, rest and move around freely.

By nature, as the old saying goes, birds of a feather tend to flock together – a behavior that can sometimes give the impression that the birds are crowded, when in fact they’re just following their natural instincts.

Fact: Even before a broiler chicken is hatched, it has a healthier start on life than a chicken from even just 25 years ago, being raised larger and healthier through:

  • Improved, modern breeding
  • Better living conditions through climate-controlled chicken barns, and protection from predators and extreme temperatures
  • Up-to-date biosecurity practices to keep diseases out
  • Healthier nutrition plans with feed tailored to each stage of a chicken’s life
  • Daily care by dedicated farmers
  • Regular veterinarian oversight and the use of vaccines to prevent disease

No chicken you buy contains added hormones or steroids, regardless of whether or not this is called out on the label. In fact, the use of hormones has been expressly forbidden by U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) law since the late 1950s.

Fact: No, you should not. In fact, a recent USDA study confirms that you put yourself and those around you at risk of illness when you wash or rinse raw poultry before cooking it. Always cook chicken to an internal temperature to 165°F as measured with a food thermometer. 

Fact: “Woody breast” describes a quality issue stemming from a muscle abnormality in a small percentage of chicken meat in the U.S. This condition causes chicken breast meat to be hard to the touch and often pale in color with poor quality texture. Woody breast does not create any health or food safety concerns for people and the welfare of the chicken itself is not negatively impacted.

The condition is sporadic and affects a very small percentage of birds.

The poultry genetic companies are diligently working to select future breeding stock without this condition and effectively “breed it out” of the chicken genetic stock. They are making great progress in this effort and are currently reducing the incidence of woody breast by 10% each year.

Fact: The risk of humans contracting avian flu is very low, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Scientists say bird flu is not easily transmitted from birds to humans.

In the event of an outbreak, the poultry industry has strict procedures in line with state and federal organizations to identify the problem and reduce the spread of the disease.

No birds from avian flu-affected flocks are ever allowed to enter the food chain.

Fact: Healthy male chicks are not euthanized in the broiler industry, they’re raised in the same house with other healthy chicks of both sexes.

Fact: Chicken has about the same amount of protein as other commonly consumed animal-based meats per standard serving size. However, compared to many plant-based proteins, the protein from chicken is of a higher-quality, meaning it has enough of each of the nine essential amino acids – the building blocks of protein – that are needed in the human diet. You can only get the nine essential amino acids from the foods you eat, and many plant-derived foods have a less favorable amino acid profile, which means they can be difficult to digest and not as usable in the body.

Fact: The chicken industry is committed to environmentally responsible and sustainable chicken production practices to ensure a healthier planet. After all, it takes a healthy planet, fresh water, fertile soil and clean air to raise and produce chicken.

For the chicken industry, sustainability means being responsible stewards of land, water and feed management, and maintaining and advocating for the humane treatment of our most important asset: our chickens. Through continuous innovation and by ensuring the best possible bird health, the chicken industry has been able to significantly reduce the use of water, farmland, electricity, greenhouse gasses, and other valuable resources.

Producing the same amount of chicken today has 50% less impact on the environment than it did in 1965.

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