Meat Processing and the Chemicals that Go into the Meat
September 13, 2009 1:00 PM   Subscribe

In factory farming, what are the chemicals - additives, preservatives and colorings that are added to poultry?

I'm looking for all the processing chemicals that are used in meat butchering and marketing, specifically poultry.

What are the chemicals that the carcasses are sprayed with after killing? What are the chemicals that are injected into the meat to plump them up?
posted by watercarrier to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Water to make up extra bulk and high fructose corn syrup (less often) as a preservative are the two I know of.
posted by idiopath at 1:05 PM on September 13, 2009


This list of additives looks like it could be mined for the info you are looking for.
posted by idiopath at 1:06 PM on September 13, 2009


I'm primarily looking for the chemicals that are added to *fresh poultry* that's sold in supermarkets. Thanks
posted by watercarrier at 1:15 PM on September 13, 2009


watercarrier, the product streams for fresh and frozen product are essentially the same until the frozen product goes into the spiral freezer. Fresh product is handled differently from processor to market but has the same range of additives and is killed, sectioned, injected, and classified on the same lines and with the same techniques used for frozen product.
posted by localroger at 1:39 PM on September 13, 2009


A website that seems to be selling additives to poultry farmers.
posted by idiopath at 1:41 PM on September 13, 2009


oops, seems I broke that link

A website that seems to be selling additives to poultry farmers.
posted by idiopath at 1:42 PM on September 13, 2009


Idiopath: high fructose corn syrup isn't a preservative.
posted by Fiery Jack at 4:08 PM on September 13, 2009


Fiery Jack: "high fructose corn syrup isn't a preservative."

wrong.
posted by idiopath at 4:27 PM on September 13, 2009


Thanks for the citation Idiopath. Mayo Clinic is a good reputable source but perhaps more medicine/nutrition than chemistry? It’s quite true that HFCS can be a preservative but really only at very high concentrations. In a similar way sucrose is a preservative in jams and jellies – it lowers the water activity and the molecular mobility and so suppresses spoilage reactions and microbial growth. You need a lot to get these effects though – dilute HFCS is a tasty treat for most spoilage organisms. The term preservatives is usually reserved for molecules that have a significant effect at low concentrations – sulfur dioxide, nisin, benzoic acid, sorbic acid are all preservatives but you are right HFCS can give a preservative effect.

You could perhaps add HFCS to a jerky as a preservative but not in fresh meat. In fact I’m pretty certain the only reason you might add to fresh poultry would be as a sweetener. I could be wrong.

I’d add phosphates to the list.
posted by Fiery Jack at 5:53 PM on September 13, 2009


In the U.S., the vast majority of chickens are grown under the contract farming system for the major processing companies such as Tyson, who dictate the conditions under which the animals are raised.

Most of the additives will come by way of feed, others via vaccination. Some info on additives in poultry feed is here from Poultry Hub.
posted by Miko at 8:00 PM on September 13, 2009


Fiery Jack: "You need a lot to get these effects though"

Fair enough. The HFCS in raw chicken thing was anecdotal and actually now that I google I am finding nothing.
posted by idiopath at 8:36 PM on September 13, 2009


Thanks missmagenta - that's really helpful.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dihydrogen_monoxide_hoax
posted by watercarrier at 12:12 AM on September 14, 2009


Fiery Jack - do you have any citations for the phosphates?
posted by watercarrier at 12:13 AM on September 14, 2009


Phosphates are more added to cooked ready-to-eat meat products like hot dogs and hams to help them retain moisture (brief summary).


An article by a company that makes ingredients to add to meat (here) states "22% of all U.S. retail meat in 2008 had minimal ingredients added. Specifically, 55% of that 22% had moisture added, while 43% had flavor added. Pork led the trend with 42% of all retail pork products having some added ingredients. Next, 27% of beef, excluding ground beef, and 16% of chicken contained minimal ingredients." I can't speak to how reliable these numbers are and "minimal" is surely a weasel word but it sounds about right.
posted by Fiery Jack at 12:38 PM on September 14, 2009


That's an interesting article - thanks - much obliged.
posted by watercarrier at 1:09 PM on September 14, 2009


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