7 News Belize

Which is Better? Fresh or Frozen Chicken?
posted (October 9, 2019)
Are you having Chicken for dinner tonight?

It's the most widely consumed meat in the country and while that may be due to its low cost when compared to beef or pork, there's no arguing that chicken is the centerpiece of Belizean cuisine.

But how do you know that the poultry you're buying is optimally stored? Should it be frozen or soft? And if it is soft is that because it is fresh, or is it because the grocer plugged out his freezer to save electricity overnight? And could that give rise to Salmonella?

We investigated all things chicken today. Cherisse Halsall reports.

Cherisse Halsall reporting
Fresh Chicken vs. frozen Chicken, which is healthier? When choosing between the two, at the supermarket or corner grocery, there is a perception that soft chicken is likely to have been recently delivered and so is definitely fresher. But is this true? We asked quality Poultry products general manager, Raymond Barkman how the freshness standards of his company's chicken are maintained.

Raymond Barkman, General Manager
"The minute they go to the packing room, they are already in ice, and they are chilled. The room itself is completely AC, so the chicken never goes soft warm again. All of our trucks have refrigeration and transport in refrigeration from the factory to the branch and then from there to the delivery trucks - all of it is refrigerated and that part of why our chicken is so good."

"Obviously we don't have control over what happens at other stores. We do have control over our stores now if you notice on the chicken bag we have a safe handling instructions which states that chicken should not be stored under 38 degrees Fahrenheit. That's not frozen meaning that you have a shorter life with 38 but it shouldn't be less than 38. 38 degrees Fahrenheit is perfect to sustain."

Barkman says that Belize is moving toward being what they in the poultry business call a soft market.

Raymond Barkman, General Manager
"This is call it a tradition or a culture whatever you want to call it but we want our chicken soft so we can season it right away. As you all know in North America the chicken is frozen because people take their time and thaw it out and that's just how they're used to. Now we here in Belize are used to having a soft chicken so that we can immediately season it, thaw it and put it on the grill then tomorrow when we need another one we go back and do the same. We don't store it in our freezer so that's just and you see in all fairness this is a Caribbean trend. In Trinidad for example it's even more so, yet than in Belize. In Trinidad and Jamaica those places they live off of a soft market almost entirely."

He also took the time to clear up a few more frozen chicken myths.

Raymond Barkman, General Manager
"There's a lot of myths about frozen chicken that it's not good or it doesn't taste as good in fact there's a lot of people I know who prefer a frozen one because they say it tastes better, and also on the other side there's theory that, a belief that when frozen chicken is frozen it's heavier than it should be and that's a complete myth that is not true in fact if anything a frozen chicken becomes a little lighter."

The bottom line seems to be that as long as it hasn't been stored below 38 degrees Fahrenheit. The only difference between fresh or frozen chicken is how fast you can get it out of your grocer's freezer and onto your plate.

According to Raymond Barkman Belize has a per capita chicken consumption hovering around 131 pounds per person per year.

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