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Time to Separate Fact from Fiction
Article contributed by Dr Vivien Kite, Executive Director, Australian Chicken Meat Federation.
Many of you may name a chicken meal or dish as one of your family favourites. But amazingly, while the popularity of chicken remains strong, so do some long-held myths and misconceptions about Australia’s chicken meat industry.
New research has confirmed that chicken is still Australia’s favourite meat. It also told us that Australians might have the wrong end of the chicken drumstick when it comes to facts about Aussie chicken meat.
The Australian Chicken Meat Federation (ACMF), the national organisation of Australia’s chicken meat industry, works to ensure everyone knows the facts and that is why we recently polled members to understand your thoughts about Australian chicken - if your family eats chicken, then why? And what you believe to be true or false about how chickens are raised?
Many of you told us that you enjoy chicken twice a week and chicken meat is your preferred choice due to taste and value for money. The most important drivers of food choices for many of you when shopping for your family were price, taste, health/nutrition, country of origin and food safety – but there were some misconceptions about chicken as well.
Let’s look at some of the misconceptions and bust the myths.
Many of you told us that you are already aware that Australian chicken meat is home grown and that chickens are not fed hormones in Australia.
You are correct. Australian chickens are not given hormones in any way and haven’t been for over 60 years. They are not allowed, not available, not necessary and not used. Chickens have been bred to be meatier, more robust and more productive, and which has been possible thanks to improved genetics and the quality of feed and care.
When we asked what you thought about how chickens were raised on the farm, like many Aussies you weren’t so sure.
In Australia, meat chickens are never reared in cages.
All commercial meat chickens in Australia are raised on the floor of large barns. The floor is always covered with a bedding material like wood shaving or rice hulls. Some chickens also have access to an outdoors range. So why do many people think cages are used? Well, many don’t realise that the chicken meat and egg industries are entirely separate, and the way birds are housed is completely different.
What’s so great about chicken and what does it mean for you and your families?
As well as being an excellent source of protein, cooked chicken offers a wide range of nutritional benefits. As part of a varied, healthy diet, cooked chicken**:
supports muscle growth and development
is brain food!
helps to keep your immune system strong
is a fatigue fighter
helps to build strong bones
It’s a family favourite and great value for money
Chicken is extremely versatile and easy to cook with …there are plenty of ways to prepare and enjoy it.
Chicken is a food which is popular with the whole family, so it’s easy to include it in meals that the whole family will enjoy.
A popular option that fits within the family’s grocery budget
Thank you for taking the time to tell us what you think, and we hope the above myth-busting facts we have shared are useful. For other facts about the humble Aussie chook from its environmental impact to how farmers look after their chickens check out https://www.facts.chicken.org.au/
**Source: Internal ACMF report “Chicken: Substantiation of Nutrition and Health Claims” by Lisa Yates Adv APD and Nicole Senior APD, November 2019 (updated February 2020)