Fact Check: Does white striping occur only in broiler chickens?

Quick Take

A number of social media users compare two pieces of chicken breast claiming that white stripes are seen only with broiler chickens that are fattened up fast while pasture raised chicken do not have the disease. We fact-checked and found that the claim is mostly false.

The Claim

Two side by side image of chicken breasts are shown in a photo. While one has white fat stripes and is labelled “grown too big, too fast”, the other didn’t have white stripes and is labelled “pasture raised chicken”. The caption read “Truth about chicken.”

Such posts can be seen here, here, here, here and here.

A screenshot is given below.

Fact Check

What are white stripping in chicken breast?

White stripping is referred to white lines that appear on a chicken breast. The intensity of the stripes can vary from mild to severe. They are caused when some of the muscles on the breast is replaced by fat.

Do only broiler chickens have white stripes?

No. White stripes is NOT a differentiating factors between broiler chickens and farm-fed chickens. While scientists believe that fast rate of growing is one of the factor that causes white stripes, not all broiler chickens develop white stripes. Also, many farm-fed chickens also tend to develop white stripes which scientists believe are due to genetic reasons.

Massimiliano Petracci, associate professor in the department of agricultural and food sciences at the University of Bologna mentioned in a Food show, “This kind of abnormality is associated with growth rate, and it’s related to genetic background of the bird.”

Also, in study done in this aspect, researchers also noted that the intensity of white stripping is also dependent on the age of chicken.

So, while broiler chickens may tend to have much higher chances of developing white stripes, it is not a unique characteristics on which a chicken piece can be distinguished.

Are white stripped chicken unhealthy?

No. There is no scientific evidence that proves that white striped chicken are unhealthy. However, scientists have found that, white stripped chicken are particular chicken is higher in fat content and lower in protein.

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