When we buy a chicken in the market, we tend to look at its color. If your flesh is more pink and your fat more whitish, we think that the animal has been raised in one of those farms in which all the specimens live crowded, has been fed with a bad feed and do not even see the sunlight.
On the contrary when the color in the meat of the product tends more towards the orange and its fat is more yellow, we believe that the animal has had a life more "full and happy", in which it has been able to enjoy the field, good food and freedom , what we popularly call "De Corral" (although this denomination actually includes all birds bred or not at liberty). In short, it has been bred in a more ecological, sustainable and therefore healthy way (and that, even though the ecological is not necessarily healthier). We regret to inform you that the color is not an indication that the animal has lived happier.
"Traditionally we associate the orange color with the freedom of the chicken, since it stings everything that is put to throw, including wildflowers, that are rich in pigments that accumulate in the fat and the skin of the chicken giving that characteristic color", explains the Scientist and Discloser José Miguel Mulet in his latest book What is healthy eating? (Editorial Destino) and adds that, when started commercial breeding, began to use feed as food for birds, so they stopped acquiring these pigments. However, "This is no longer necessarily so," continues Mulet.
Carrots or corn in the diet make chicken more yellow or orange
"The yellow or orange color of the chicken simply means that it has had a diet with more carotenes," clarifies J.M. Mulet with BuenaVida. Although it depends also on the genetics of the bird, as clarifies Beatriz Robles, technologist of food. Carrots, calendula leaves or maize, among others, serve as colorants that can be added to the feed they eat and, depending on their genetics, "they will fix better or worse in the animal's flesh," says Robles. In other words, the meat "can be made up naturally", added Mulet.
For example, when the animal is given a high-maize diet, it does not assimilate and the pigment is deposited in its skin, dyeing of yellow, explained in an interview in the chain to be the general Director of the Inter-professional association of Poultry Chicken Meat Of the Kingdom of Spain (Propollo), Ángel Martín. You can even play with the colors: "If we want to raise the orange tone, we can add a red pigment that is naturally found in various algae and fungi and is responsible for the red color of the flamingos, which are obtained by the diet , because they are unable to synthesize it, "explains Mulet in what is healthy eating?
It is clear that you should not be carried away by the color of the skin because it will not make sure you are buying the type of chicken you want: "Does not suppose that the chicken is corral or not corral," emphasizes Martín. So how do we know if it's corral?
The requirements to certify the chicken go through the feeding of the animal and the way in which it lives
To be of corral, the product must be certified, Martin indicated in the interview with the SER chain. The denomination is included in the European regulation 543/2008, which clarifies that the chicken must be classified according to the space in which it has been bred, within which there are four categories:
1. Extensive poultry system: the degree of concentration per square metre of soil does not exceed 15 chickens and, in any case, reaches a maximum of 25 kilograms of live weight. The birds are slaughtered with 56 days or more.
2. Henhouse with free exit: the degree of concentration of the henhouse may be 13 chickens in the same area, as long as it does not exceed 27.5 kilograms of live weight per square metre, and the age at the time of slaughter is adjusted to the limits set in the PU Previous nto.
for at least half of their life, birds must have continuous access during the day to an outdoor space that includes a mostly covered area of vegetation, with a surface equal to or greater than one square meter per chicken. The henhouse must be fitted with traps with a combined length of at least 4 meters for every 100 square meters of the building. And food from the fattening period must contain at least 70% of cereals.
3. Outdoor Farm: The degree of concentration per square metre of the henhouse's soil cannot exceed 12 birds and, in any case, a maximum of 25 kilograms of live weight and the surface of the place of production cannot have more than 1,600 square meters. The henhouse cannot have more than 4,800 chickens, and it must also have traps with a length of at least 4 meters for every 100 square meters of building surface.
birds must have continuous access during the day to a free space starting at six weeks and in case of having an area covered for the most part by vegetation must be at least two square meters per chicken. fattened chickens have to belong to a lineage recognized as slow-growing and their diet must have at least 70% of cereals. In this case, the slaughter age is at least 81 days and the final cage period cannot exceed 15 days for chickens over 90 days.
4. Breeding farm in freedom: the use of this category requires compliance with the rules of the "outdoor Farm", although in this case the birds have continuous access during the day to open-air spaces of unlimited surface.
As you will see, none of the denominations is "Campero", a word that does not fall within the law and is used as a synonym for "poultry", which are all the above in their different modalities. "And with regard to the ecological, it is the one that — besides being loose — has to be fed with corn or organic feedingstuffs," explains Mulet in his book.
That has less flavor does not imply that it is less healthy
"The main difference is in food (fodder, cereal, grains, weeds, insects, etc.), which affects the type of fat and other stored soluble compounds (those that are soluble in fat and accumulate in adipose tissue), "explains dietitian-nutritionist Iva Marques. This and the time it takes to sacrifice the animal mark the differences in the flavor: "By exercising and metabolizing the birds for more days the food — whether or not ecological — is conditioned meat, which can be more or less tender or more or less fat" , notes Robles.
But its color and flavor do not affect our health. Both J. M. Mulet and Beatriz Robles assure that they are totally safe, as long as they are officially purchased. Neither the way of life nor what the chicken ingests pose dangers for our organism: A recent investigation of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on the residues of medicinal products in this type of birds, in which 64,501 specimens were analyzed, He concluded that only 48 of them — 0.07% — surpassed the permitted limits. And it's not clear if they were white, yellow or orange.