The Grim Reality Of ‘Spaghetti Chicken’

Some chicken sold in supermarkets has a stringy texture and pulls apart easily - but why?


3 Minutes Read

A fast growing broiler chicken in a factory farm The chicken industry abuses animals to maximize profit - Media Credit: Adobe Stock

Last month, it was reported that a woman in Texas had encountered a phenomenon known as “spaghetti chicken” while preparing dinner for her children. 

While she was washing a chicken breast under the tap, it went stringy and came apart in her hands. After she shared a photo of the meat to social media, commenters pointed out that it was likely “spaghetti chicken,” the meat of a fast-growing chicken.

Read more: I’m Taking The Government To Court Over Farmed Chickens – Here’s Why

The truth about ‘spaghetti chicken’

The majority of chicken meat in the US and UK comes from fast growing breeds. They have been dubbed “frankenchickens” by some, as they have been selectively bred to reach slaughter weight in six weeks. If a human baby grew as fast as these chickens do, the baby would be the size of an adult tiger at eight weeks. 

Meat from such chickens can sometimes become stringy, giving it a spaghetti-like appearance. This is because they may have struggled to breathe properly while alive, meaning their muscle tissues did not receive enough oxygen, causing the fibers to separate. Around four to five percent of chicken breast meat is identified as “spaghetti chicken” in the US.

Read more: Will Eating Chicken Really Save The Planet?

The rise of spaghetti chicken was described as an “industry woe” by the Wall Street Journal in 2019. According to the report, chicken companies in the US are spending around $200 million each year to divert breasts that have become stringy.

The cruelty of fast growing breeds

A fast growing "frankenchicken" on a chicken factory farm
Open Cages Fast growing chickens often suffer from serious injuries on farms

While the chicken industry sees the phenomenon as just a headache and extra cost, the rise of spaghetti chicken showcases a hidden aspect of chicken farming that’s widely regarded as cruel. 

Chickens suffer hugely on farms. Because of their size, they often experience serious injuries, broken bones, and lack of mobility. Some are so large that they cannot move to access food and water. 

“If you hear the term ‘spaghetti chicken’, think ‘painfully crippled chicken’, because these unfortunate birds are bred to grow so unnaturally large so quickly that their legs buckle beneath them and they can’t even stand up,” Elisa Allen, Vice President of Programmes, tells Plant Based News. “Anyone with a grain of compassion must swear off supporting such systemic cruelty.”

Read more: Think Free Range Eggs Are Ethical? Investigation Exposes Reality Of ‘Cage-Free’

The reason why fast growing breeds are so widely used is because they maximize profit for the industry, allowing it to produce as much chicken meat as possible. Chickens are by far the most abused land animals on the planet, and around 70 billion of them are farmed and killed each year. Buying and consuming them supports this industry, and abstaining from their meat is the only way to not contribute to this cruelty. “PETA encourages everyone to buy only vegan chicken, which comes without a side order of suffering,” says Allen.

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