We Greeks love meat very much. In 2013, we consumed an average of 100 kilos/person of meat per year, which ranked us seventh in meat consumption, worldwide. Since then, and perhaps because of the economic crisis that followed, meat consumption in our country, although decreased, is still high. And it is definitely much higher than it was 50 or 60 years ago.
But what seems to be changing is the type of meat consumed. Gradually, the consumption of red meat (pork, beef) is decreasing while that of poultry (chicken) is increasing.
White meats are more sensitive than red meats. And so, the slaughter, processing, conservation, and transportation processes must be flawless. That aside, there are various ways for the consumer to check if the chicken they are buying is actually fresh, and if the due processes have been followed until the chicken reaches your plate.
Packaged or bulk chicken?
There is no clear answer to this question. Many argue that packaged chicken – whole or sliced - is a safer solution for two reasons: on one hand big companies follow specific rules for product safety and hygiene, and on the other hand, packaging protects the meat from contamination during transport and conservation. An additional reason is that the consumer can check a series of information on the packaging.
In any case, the consumer must check the product before buying it, whether it is packaged or in bulk. In the packaged chicken, we also check the packaging (tray – gelatin) – it must be intact.
What signs to check to see whether the chicken is fresh
The color of the chicken is a key element to understand whether the meat is fresh or not. A fresh chicken should have a fairly bright pink color. If the color of the meat is more transparent, then the chicken is probably not as fresh as it should be. Therefore, it is better to avoid buying this product.
Similarly, the color of the chicken fat should be checked. Depending on the breed and its diet, chicken fat should be white or yellow. If the color of the fat is gray, discolored, or has black spots, this is an indication that the chicken is not fresh.
Sometimes the chicken looks too puffy. This is done artificially by injecting water into its flesh, to make it weigh more, and looking robust. Prefer a chicken that looks more “normal”.
Fresh chicken does not smell. If you notice an unpleasant odor, do not buy the product. If you notice any odor after having bought the product, try rinsing the chicken under running water. If the smell remains, avoid eating this meat.
Fresh chicken must have neat cuts. Flesh and skin must be undamaged. If you see bruises, torn skin, broken protruding bones, brown or red spots, then you should avoid this particular product. Fresh chicken, that has been transported and conserved according to safety and hygiene rules, should not bear such marks.