What Those White Stripes on Chicken Breasts Mean for Your Health

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Chicken has long been marketed as a lighter alternative to red meats like beef, pork, and lamb. But as Thrillist reports, consumers shouldn’t necessarily be so quick to label poultry products as a healthy food. Thanks to modern farming methods, some chicken sold in stores has more than three times the fat it’s supposed to, and this can be observed in the stripes of white tissue running through the meat.

“White striping” occurs when factory farmers breed birds to grow faster and larger, a practice Compassion in World Farming brought to light in a recent video. This can lead to adverse health effects for chickens, including muscular tissue disorders. Sometimes the disorders manifest in white lines that cut through the meat, creating a striped or “wooden” appearance.

The condition isn’t just bad news for chickens. In 2013, scientists from the University of Bologna in Italy reported that chicken with white striping exceeded normal fat content by 224 percent. But that doesn’t mean meat-eaters should drop poultry from their diets for good. Chicken still tends to have less cholesterol and saturated fat than red meat, and products with the muscular disorders are rare.

That being said, shoppers looking to cut extra fat from their meals should learn to spot white striping so they can avoid it at the supermarket. The photo below shows cases that range from normal to extreme.

[h/t Thrillist]