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Will “Air-Chilled” Mean Less Campylobacter?

We have to admit, we really don’t like doing the grocery shopping.  If we do not read the labels, we’re certain to buy something we don’t want or need.  And, if you do read the labels, it can take forever.

Reading labels also leaves us feeling stupid.  What do some of these words mean?  That’s why we were drawn to reading a story in the San Jose Mercury News about what "air-chilled" is suppose to mean.   Reporter Carolyn Jung writes:

The air-chilling process, common in Western Europe for more than 45 years, is still fairly new in the United States. It refers to a specific method used to cool chickens after slaughtering. Most chickens in this country are processed by being immersed in ice water. By contrast, air-chilling cools chickens by blasting them with cold air.

Air versus water? Is there really such a huge difference? Many retailers think so. Since January, Whole Foods has been steadily converting all of its full-service meat counters to sell only air-chilled chicken. Niman Ranch, known for its sustainable and humanely raised meats, is expected to start selling an air-chilled French heritage chicken called Poulet Rouge Fermiere in April. It will be the company’s first chicken product.

Whether air-chilled chicken is safer is not really clear. A USDA-sponsored study by the University of Nebraska in 2000 found that 350 air-chilled chickens had about 20 percent less bacteria (such as salmonella and campylobacter) than the same number of water-cooled poultry. That study, though, examined only one air-chilling plant and one water-immersion plant.

Less campylobacter and salmonella, that would be good news.  The cartoon with this was kind of what came to our mind when we first heard the term "air chilled chicken."   For the rest of the story, go here.