Do you like overpaying for salt and water? Then “100% All Natural” chicken breasts might be for you! Just look for the labels that boast “enhanced with up to 15% chicken broth,” and you can be sure you’re overpaying for the saltiest, most water-logged chicken that industrial food processors can design. So how does all that chicken water get into the chickens, you ask? Hit the jump for the delightfully graphic description…
Processors use multiple-needle injectors or vacuum-tumblers, which force the sodium solution into the muscle. Binding agents in the solution prevent the added salt and water from leaching out of the meat during transport, in grocery stores and during cooking, says Kenneth McMillin, professor of meat science at the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center in Baton Rouge.
Raw chicken breast can contain as little as 50 to 75 milligrams of sodium per 4-ounce serving. But much of the chicken on the market in the U.S. is “enhanced” — injected with a salt solution, or broth, during processing. Sodium levels often reach well over 400 milligrams per serving — nearly one-third of the maximum daily intake of 1500 milligrams recommended for people at risk of high blood pressure (including African Americans and older adults).
We don’t want needles or vacuum-thingies anywhere near our dinner plates, and neither should you—especially since chicken water can cost you up to $60 per year.