Is poultry as healthy as it used to be?

In the 1970s the UK Royal College of Physicians and British Cardiac Society recommended eating more poultry because it had little fat. Similar recommendations were made in Australia. In order to meet the rising demand, new methods of intensive poultry production were implemented by poultry farmers. This resulted in quite drastic changes to the body composition of poultry.

A study conducted by Wang et al from the Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition, London Metropolitan University looked at changes in body composition of poultry. Meat samples were obtained from several supermarkets and organic food suppliers in the United Kingdom. Historical data was searched from publications and in-house records in the UK. They reported the following:
poultry intake has increased more than 25 times during 1950 to 2000 in the UK
the fat calorie content of broiler chicken has increased to about 4 times greater than that of protein
chicken now has 100 more calories/100g and 4 fold calorie fat to protein ratio as compared to 3 decades ago
omega 3 fatty acid (DHA) has decreased and been replaced by omega 6 fatty acid (linoleic acid) due to cereal feeds.
UK poultry consumption in 50 years has resulted in increased fat calories by up to 41 times.
Eating the same weight of chicken today compared to 30 years ago means you eat 100 more calories and 3-8 times less omega 3 fats.


Last Updated: June 2005