The chickens that are more fat than protein
by STEPHANIE CONDRON, Daily Mail
Last updated at 09:24 04 April 2005
But the birds reared today no longer deserve that reputation, a study has found.
Their unnatural diets and lack of exercise means they contain much more fat than the birds of 30, 40 and even 50 years ago.
In fact, chicken now has more fat than protein, the study found.
The 1950s housewife might have drained just a spoonful of fat from her Sunday roast.
Today the average roast chicken removed from the oven is likely to be swimming in fat.
The research team, using data from a long-ranging study into mothers' diets, examined the content of chicken meat from 1970 compared to today.
Fat three times higher
They found the fat content is now almost three times higher. Protein has dropped by almost a third.
In 1970 there was an average 8.6grams of fat per 100 grams of meat. Today there is an average of 22.8grams. Protein levels in 1970 were 24.3grams per 100 grams. Today it is a mere 16.5grams. Buying organic gives only slight protection from the extra fat.
A typical organic chicken has 17.1grams of fat per 100 grams.
Like their battery-farmed counterparts, organic chickens are likely to live relatively sedentary lives compared to birds in the 1950s, 60s or 70s.
Instead of foraging for food, they feed from ready-made meals dished up in a trough.
And instead of a varied diet of worms, herbs and seeds, they receive calorific cereal-based foods.
"People simply don't realise how much fat they consume from chicken and we need a new definition of what is a healthy food," said Professor Michael Crawford who led the research at the Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition at London Metropolitan University.
In the 1950s, chicken was regarded as a luxury, reserved for special occasions.
By 1976, nutritionists were praising it for its low fat and high protein.
In the 1980s, sales of pork, lamb and beef dropped as the message got through and health conscious consumers chose chicken.
Today it is Britain's most popular meat with 820million birds slaughtered each year.
Alan Simpson, a farmer and the founder of British Chicken, a forum for chicken producers, blamed the supermarkets' demands for cheap meat for today's less healthy birds.
"I do not believe there is any farmer in Britain who would not want to give his chicken more space if he could still make a reasonable return," he said.
"If the supermarkets were to pay a fairly-priced amount for my produce we would have less birds and they would come out healthier and fitter."
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