If you’ve ever bought chicken breasts, you will know that some meat has white stripes on the flesh.
Now it can be revealed exactly why some meat has these lines – and it’s not because the chicken has had a disease.
Modern factory farming often means chicken can go from egg to plate in just 40 days as the birds are developed to grow quickly, Channel 4’s Food Unwrapped uncovers on Monday night.
It’s the speed at which the birds grow that causes white lines to form in the meat, scientists have found – and fitness fanatics may want to avoid them as these stripes are excess fat.
The show discovered that meat with white stripes has a higher fat content, so those who want truly lean meat should choose meat with only minimal striping.
Massimiliano Petracci, associate professor in the department of agricultural and food sciences at the University of Bologna explained white striping in chicken meat to Food Unwrapped co-presenter Matt Tebbutt.
He said: ‘It’s abnormal infiltration of fat inside the muscle in the chicken.’
Looking at the meat under a microscope, he added: ‘You can see that there are white cells – that means that these are a deposit, so the fat has accumulated inside.
‘In normal meat, the percentage [of fat] is around 1 per cent, while in white striping [meat] the fat content is 2 or 2.5 per cent.’
He continued: ‘This kind of abnormality is associated with growth rate, and it’s related to genetic background of the bird.’
Even though the white stripes in meat are classed as abnormal, according to Food Unwrapped they have become ‘endemic’ because of factory farming.
Chickens have been developed to grow to the size needed for meat very quickly which causes the white lines, it’s said.
However even with the white stripes, the fat content of chicken is still lower than red meat, according to the show.
Organic free-range meat will only have minimal striping because the chickens will grow at a slower rate.
However this also causes prices to increase.