CHICKEN & EGGS

DR. S.M. ALAM
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)

Aug
15 - 21, 2011

Chicken is the most common type of poultry in the world, is prepared as food in a wide variety of ways varying by region and culture.

The modern chicken is a descendant of Red Jungle fowl hybrids along with the Grey Jungle fowl first raised thousands of years ago in the northern parts of the Indian subcontinent.

Chicken as a meat has been depicted in Babylonian carvings from around 600 BC. Chicken was one of the most common meats available in the Middle Ages.

It was widely believed to be easily digested and considered to be one of the most neutral food stuff. It was eaten over most of the Eastern hemisphere and a number of different kinds of chicken such as capons, pullets and hens were eaten. It was one of the basic ingredients in the so-called white dish, a stew usually consisting of chicken and fried onions cooked in milk and seasoned with spices and sugar.

Chicken consumption in the US increased during World War II due to a shortage of beef and pork. In Europe, consumption of chicken overtook that of beef and veal in 1996, linked to consumer awareness of Bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

Modern varieties of chicken such as the Cornish Cross are bred specifically for meat production, with an emphasis placed on the ratio of feed to meat produced by the animal. The most common breeds of chicken consumed in the US are Cornish and White Rock.

Chickens raised specifically for meat are called chicken while those farmed for eggs are called egg-laying hens. Chickens naturally live for six or more years, but broiler chickens typically take less than six weeks to reach slaughter size. In the United States, broilers are typically butchered at a young age. Modern Cornish Cross hybrids, for example, are butchered as early as eight weeks for fryers and 12 weeks for roasting.

Typically, the muscle tissue (breast, legs, thigh, etc.), liver, heart, and gizzard are processed for food. Chicken feet are commonly eaten, especially in Caribbean and Chinese cuisine.

Exotic parts like pygostyle (chicken's buttocks) and testicles are commonly eaten in East Asia and some parts of South East Asia.

Chicken eggs are commonly eaten. Some hens can produce over 300 eggs per year. In total, the UK alone consumes over 29 million eggs per day.

Chicken is considered poultry rather than meat. Chicken meat contains about two to three times as much polyunsaturated fat than most types of red meat when measured as weight percentage.

Chicken generally includes low fat in the meat itself. However, it is highly concentrated on its skin, which should be avoided when low intake of fat is necessary.

According to a 2006 Harvard School of Public Health study of 135,000 people, people who ate grilled skinless chicken 5 or more times a week had a 52 percent higher chance of developing bladder cancer compared to people who didn't. However, such strong associations were not found in individuals regularly consuming chicken with skin intact.

Mature chicken is sold as small, medium or large. Whole mature chickens are marketed in the United States as fryers, broilers, and roasters. Fryers are the smallest size (2.5-4 lbs dressed for sale), and the most common, as chicken reaches this size quickly (about 7 weeks).

Most dismembered packaged chicken would be sold whole as fryers. Broilers are larger than fryers. They are typically sold whole. Roasters, or roasting hens, are the largest chickens commonly sold (3-5 months and 6-8 lbs) and are typically more expensive.

Even larger and older chickens are called stewing chickens but these are no longer usually found commercially. As the size increases, the volume (which determines how much heat must enter the bird for it to be cooked) increases faster than the surface area (which determines how fast heat can enter the bird).

For a fast method of cooking, such as frying, a small bird is appropriate: frying a large piece of chicken results in the inside being undercooked when the outside is ready.

A chicken is typically cut into two leg quarters and two breast quarters. Each quarter contains two of the commonly available pieces of chicken. A leg quarter contains the thigh, drumstick, and a portion of the back; a leg has the back portion removed. A breast quarter contains the breast, wing and portion of the back; a breast has the back portion and wing removed.

Pieces may be sold in packages of all of the same pieces, or in combination packages. Whole chicken cut up refers to either the entire bird cut into eight individual pieces. (8-piece cut); or sometimes without the back.

A 9-piece cut (usually for fast food restaurants) has the tip of the breast cut off before splitting. Thighs and breasts are sold boneless and/or skinless. Dark meat (legs, drumsticks, and thighs) pieces are typically cheaper than white meat pieces (breast, wings).

There are many fast food restaurant chains on both a national and global scale that sell exclusively or primarily in poultry products including KFC (global), Red Rooster (Australia), Hector Chicken (Belgium) and CFC (Indonesia).

Most of the products on the menu in such eateries are fried or breaded and are served with french fries. Raw chicken can be frozen for up to two years without significant changes in flavor or texture. Chicken can be cooked in many ways. It can be made into sausages, skewered, put in salads, grilled, breaded and deep-fried, or used in various curries.

There is significant variation in cooking methods amongst cultures. Historically, common methods include roasting, baking, broasting, and frying. Today, chickens are frequently cooked by deep frying and prepared as fast foods such as fried chicken, chicken nuggets, chicken lollipops or buffalo wings. They are also often grilled for salads or tacos.

The breast is cut from the chicken and sold as a solid cut, while the leftover breast and true rib meat is stripped from the bone through mechanical separation for use in chicken franks, for example. breast meat is often sliced thinly and marketed as chicken slices, an easy filling for sandwiches.

Chicken bones are hazardous to health as they tend to break into sharp splinters when eaten, but they can be simmered with vegetables and herbs for hours or even days to make chicken stock. In Asian countries, it is possible to buy bones alone as they are very popular for making chicken soups, which are said to be healthy.

In Australia, the rib cages and backs of chickens after the other cuts have been removed are frequently sold cheaply in supermarket delicatessen sections as either chicken frames or chicken carcasses and are purchased for soup or stock purposes.

Raw chicken maintains its quality longer in the freezer as compared to when having been cooked because moisture is lost during cooking. There is little change in nutrient value of chicken during freezer storage.

For optimal quality, however, a maximal storage time in the freezer of 12 months is recommended for uncooked whole chicken, 9 months for uncooked chicken parts, 3 to 4 months for uncooked chicken giblets, and 4 months for cooked chicken.

Freezing does not usually cause color changes in poultry, but the bones and the meat near them can become dark. This bone darkening results when pigment seeps through the porous bones of young poultry into the surrounding tissues when the poultry meat is frozen and thawed. It is safe to freeze chicken directly in its original packaging, however this type of wrap is permeable to air and quality may diminish over time.

EGGS AND CHOLESTEROL

The average large chicken egg has about 213 milligrams of cholesterol, which is all contained within the yolk. Medical studies have shown that excess cholesterol in the diet can raise the level of cholesterol in the blood, causing major health problems such as heart disease. Since the body produces all of the cholesterol it needs for normal functions, eating large quantities of cholesterol rich foods may be unhealthy. It is recommended that the intake of cholesterol in one day should not exceed 300 milligrams. With one egg yolk containing 213 milligrams, it is clear that the recommended daily maximum can be quite easy to exceed.

HEALTH BENEFITS OF EGGS

In spite of the high cholesterol content of eggs, there are several health benefits relating to the inclusion of eggs in the diet-in limited quantities, of course. Consider the following points:

* Eggs are one of the best sources of protein, vitamins, and minerals. The quality of the protein found in eggs is of a higher quality than the protein found in meat and fish.

* Eggs are low in calories. One large egg has only about 75 calories.

* The high protein egg white averages only about 17 calories and has no fat or cholesterol, which makes it an excellent diet food.

* There are nutrients in eggs that are beneficial in preventing macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of blindness in the elderly.

* Eggs are rich in choline, which is helpful in fetal brain development. Choline levels in women drop during pregnancy, so it may be beneficial for women to consume eggs during pregnancy.

NUTRIENTS IN CHICKEN EGGS

CHICKEN EGGS
BASED ON ONE LARGE EGG (50 G)

COMPONENT WHOLE EGG QUANTITY % EGG WHITE QUANTITY % EGG YOLK QUANTITY %
Calories 75 4 17 1 58 3
Total Fat 5.0 g 8 0.0 g 0 5.0 g 8
Saturated 1.6 g 8 0.0 g 0 1.6 g 8
Monounsaturated 2.0 g . 0.0 g . 2.0 g .
Polyunsaturated 0.7 g . 0.0 g . 0.7 g .
Cholesterol 213 mg 70 0.0 g 0 213 mg 70
Carbohydrate 0.65 g <1 0.34 g <1 0.31 0
Protein 6.7 g 13 4.0 g 7 2.7 5
VITAMINS
Vitamin A 244 IU 5 0.0 IU 0 244 IU 5
Vitamin C 0.0 mg 0 0.0 mg 0 0.0 mg 0
Vitamin D 18.3 IU 4 0.0 mg 0 18.3 IU 4
Vitamin E 0.5 mg 2 0.0 mg 0 0.5 mg 2
Choline 216 mg . 0.45 mg . 215.5 mg .
Thiamin 0.031 mg 2 0.002 mg <1 0.029 mg 2
Riboflavin 0.254 mg 14 0.151 mg 9 0.106 mg 5
Niacin 0.037 mg <1 0.035 mg <1 0.002 mg <1
Vitamin B6 0.1 mg 3 0.0 mg 0 0.1 mg 3
Folate 23.5 mcg 6 1.0 mcg <1 22.5 mcg 6
Vitamin B12 0.6 mcg 11 0.07 mcg <1 0.53 mcg 10
Pantothenic Acid 0.627 mg 7 0.040 mg <1 0.587 mg 7
Vitamin K 0.1 mcg . 0.0 mcg . 0.1 mcg .