Colors of Poultry: What Do They Tell You?
It is without a doubt that Filipinos love chicken. As reported by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the average Filipino consumed 11.6 kilograms of chicken last year. It was also recorded in 2014 that in Metro Manila alone, about 20 million kilos of chicken were consumed per month. No wonder that various manok dishes and chicken-all-you-can promos are and will always be a staple in restaurant menus.
But did you know that the color of a chicken’s flesh or any poultry can help you determine if it is still fresh and safe to eat?
The Colors of Poultry
Bluish-white to Yellow – As suggested by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), raw chicken or poultry normally shows a bluish-white to yellow in appearance. USDA further explains that the bluish color is prevalent among younger poultry as they have less fat under the skin, while the yellowish pigment is due to the marigolds in the feed.
White, Pink or Tan – Safely prepared poultry can appear white, pink or tan in color, as noted by the USDA. However, the cooking process may cause some change in color, such as the darkening of the bone as well as the meat surrounding it. You may doubt if the flesh is still safe to eat –well, it still is. As the USDA further explains, this phenomenon normally occurs among young chickens as their bones have not yet calcified completely. Pigment from the bone marrow seeps through the bones and into the surrounding area, causing the bone to darken. Also, skin may look pink when cooked due to the gas reaction with hemoglobin.
- Fading or Darkening – Color change is quite normal for fresh products. As spoilage may exhibit some fading or darkening in color, however, it does not mean that the product is already inedible. Aside from the change in appearance, spoiled products may have a foul smell as well as a sticky or slimy texture, as pointed out by the USDA.
Factors Affecting the Color of Poultry
There are several factors affecting the change in appearance of poultry products such as chicken. A certain protein called myoglobin is responsible for producing the bright red color of meat. According to agriculture experts, animals tend to have darker flesh as they age due to the increase of myoglobin present in the tissue.
Species, sex, diet and even the amount of exercise that animals get may also influence their color. Storage in supermarkets and at home are additional factors cited by experts.
Preventing Contamination of Poultry Products
Poultry products such as chicken are quite delicate because they are highly prone to bacterial growth. Here are a few tips on how to properly handle and prepare them to avoid contamination and food poisoning:
- Wash your hands before and after food preparation. Wearing of gloves is also highly suggested.
- Rinse and sanitize utensils that came in contact with raw meat before using them again.
- Make sure that the meat is properly cooked by checking the internal temperature using a food thermometer. Temperature must reach at least 165◦F.
- Food should be reheated to at least 165◦F or higher in temperature.
We, at SGS, can help you ensure the quality and safety of your poultry products, from farm to fork, through our food microbiology and veterinary testing services, as well as shelf life and chemical analyses.
SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. SGS is recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 90,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 2,000 offices and laboratories around the world.