Aussie shoppers disgusted by bizarre looking chicken breast: 'Revolting'

Experts suggest this type of chicken breast is not as uncommon as you might think.

Caption. Photo: Facebook
A photo of an unusual chicken breast has sparked online speculation. Photo: Facebook

A member of a local online community group has stirred up some poultry controversy by sharing a picture of her peculiar-looking chicken breast, leaving many scratching their heads and questioning what exactly they're looking at.

"What sort of chicken breast are these?" the Victorian woman posed the question to the group, "is it really chicken?" she continued, unsure whether the product was even safe to eat.


Responses came in thick and fast, with many downright appalled by the bird's bizarre appearance.

"Looks revolting," one person commented, while another chimed in, "that animal can't have been healthy."

"Created in a lab," someone else joked, with another quipping, "Looks like there's been some fowl play!"

"I think I would identify as a vegan rather than eat this," surmised another group member.

Then came the online fact-checkers, eager to take a stab at solving the mystery behind the stringy, fibrous texture of the chicken.

"Water caused the meat to split, I suspect," suggested one person, "Get a normal chicken breast and put it in water and it will do the same thing."

Chicken breast
Group members offered up several suggestions as to why the meat might look the way it does. Photo: Getty

Another armchair expert theorised, "Pumped with water to add weight, tenders pulled off, horrible breast, I'd take them back."

And with a completely different perspective, another group member shared what they'd heard about this type of phenomenon: "Chicken breast that is stringy occurs when chickens are given hormones. It causes them to grow rapidly so they're ready for consumption quicker."

"Looks like 50% chicken and 50% meat glue," someone else remarked, before another group member offered a solution: "Don't buy meat from a supermarket...simple"

But what's the real deal with these odd-looking chicken breasts? Well, as it turns out, the online speculation wasn't entirely off the mark. According to food scientist and nutrition researcher Dr Vincent Candrawinata — known as Dr Vincent — this stringy defect is very real and it has an official name: spaghetti meat.

It's not just a clever name, this stringy appearance affects both the texture and appearance of the meat. According to Dr. Vincent, the muscle fibres in chicken breasts are particularly susceptible to this defect.

"The breast meat is the largest part of the chicken," he explained to Yahoo Lifestyle, "but it's not as exercised as the leg muscles." In commercial chicken farming, the birds are bred to reach market size quickly, prioritising efficiency and output over muscle quality.

"The breed of chicken we have now is ready for market much earlier than in the past," says Dr. Vincent. "But the quicker growth process weakens the cross-linkage between muscle fibres." This weakness makes the meat prone to disintegration, especially during processing.

"The secondary cause happens during the processing of the meat. When chicken are being pulled apart mechanically, some tension and stress from the machinery can cause already fragile muscles to break down," Dr. Vincent notes. "The weakened muscle structure also leads to moisture loss, giving the meat a slimy, dry, and stringy appearance."

In culinary terms, this condition is sometimes called "woody breast." Dr. Vincent explains, "As you can imagine, it's already lost moisture during the raw state. Once you cook it, it loses even more moisture, resulting in very dry meat."

Research suggests that spaghetti meat chicken is safe for consumption, but it has drawbacks in texture and nutrition. It typically contains less protein and more fat than regular poultry.

When cooked, spaghetti meat chicken also tends to be drier and less appealing in texture. Despite this, it's still considered safe to eat. While heavily affected meat is often used in processed foods like sausages and nuggets, you may encounter breasts with mild to moderate spaghetti meat in your local grocery store.

Buying chicken fresh from the butcher could mean avoiding 'spaghetti meat'. Credit: Getty Images
Buying chicken fresh from the butcher could mean avoiding 'spaghetti meat'. Credit: Getty Images

But how can you spot spaghetti meat? Dr. Vincent suggests checking the underside of the chicken.

"It's very hard to tell, especially with pre-portioned and pre-packaged chicken," he says. "The smooth part where the skin was attached is often at the top, but it's the underside that's more prone to disintegration."


Supporting your local butcher might be the solution.

"Butchers tend to take good care of their chicken," Dr. Vincent advises. "Since they have repeat customers, they want to ensure the best quality meat."

Unlike pre-packaged chicken, butchered meat is also often not covered, allowing you to inspect it thoroughly prior to purchase.

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