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Jan 10, 2008 07:10 AM

Why does chicken smell like bleach these days?

I am just about going to give up on chicken. It seems like every brand I try these days has a smell of chlorine bleach about it when I open it. I don't know if I am particularly sensitive to this, but even after I rinse the bird I can still smell it, and it permeates the meat in my opinion. The taste has just about put me off chicken. I have tried several brands (just last night a Purdue roaster) and it seems to be everywhere.
I suppose processors are using a chlorine bath these days? Am I going to have to start raising chickens myself to get away from this?

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  1. I don't know where you are but in the Pacific NW we have some brands that don't seem to have that. We have Ranger free range and Diestel which (I think) is organic. Of course a little more cost, but great flavor. And the excess price certainly must be lower than fencing and chicken feed <g>

    1. Your profile doesn't say where you live, Missy, but here in the KC area, there are several options for locally raised and processed birds. Here's one example: Have you researched that possibility in your area? I pay more for these birds, but the flavor is that much better, too.

      1. we got a nice lean organic chicken for christmas dinner at harris teeter in arlington, va.

        1. I am far from being a crunchy, organic hippie but I have to agree that mass-produced meat leaves something to be desired. You might try a live poultry shop to avoid the smell. Halal chicken is also much better, in my opinion, as it is raised humanely and not subject to the same indignities as a mass-produced bird.

          13 Replies
          1. re: JungMann

            Those are all good ideas-I live out in Winchester Va, about 80 NW of Washington DC. It's very small-town and our grocery options are limited. The nearest halal place is about 50 miles east. But there is a farm nearby that raises free-range turkeys (I had one for Thanksgiving last year and it was tough as an old boot). Maybe they have chickens. I used to raise them for meat and eggs, way back in the Mother Earth News days, and both were heavenly. Unfortunately they got back at me for killing them by giving me histoplamosis!

            1. re: Missy

              missy, doesn't your local safeway or giant carry organic chicken?
              or this place?:
              Valley Farm Natural Foods
              1149 Berryville Ave.
              Winchester, VA 22601
              (540) 722-6525

              1. re: alkapal

                We don't have either safeway or Giant-it's Food Lion (which seems the words) or Martin's
                I'm not sure about the Natural Food store-in the past I don't think they carried meat but it's been years since I went in there. I'll look though!

                1. re: Missy

                  gosh, the reason i mentioned them is that i googled both major stores and they had winchester stores listed....
                  2207 Valley Ave
                  Winchester, VA 22601
                  (540) 662-1750

                  Giant Food
                  400 Gateway Dr, Winchester - (540) 535-0598

                  1. re: alkapal

                    Sorry Alkapal-We do have aa Safeway but I never shop there-it's quite small. And the Giant food stores we have are Martins-a PA chain that Giant acquired a few years ago. They are better than Food Lion but not as good as a big city Giant.

                    1. re: Missy

                      any luck yet in getting a good chicken?

                  2. re: Missy

                    You may also want to see if your Natural foods Market orders meat for people. My local market had a no meat on the shelves policy for years, but would order it upon request. Now, we have a small meat selection in the back.

                  3. re: alkapal

                    I have had this same issue even with organic chickens they are all tasting like bleach.Its awful! Dosent seem to matter what brand I buy any more!I live in south Texas.

                    1. re: abcdfeg

                      when chickens are slaughtered and prepped for market the USDA has very specific ideas about how the carcass is washed and rinsed.

                      chlorine kills bad bugs - more cost efficiently than many other methods.

                      check the label - it must show the "Establishment" where the chicken was processed - look for a different "Estb" number who may hopefully use a other than bleach/chlorine disinfecting bath.

                      organic / free range / Martian bred / chickens from Venus - makes no difference in regard to washing/rinsing the chicken carcass.

                  4. re: Missy

                    Are you close to a Trader Joes?? They have Rabushkins Kosher Chicken which won the taste test at Cooks Illustrated...

                    1. re: Missy

                      Missy, there are a few large organic farms and some smaller local farms who have free range or organic chickens and eggs available in the area. We used to live in The Plains and did not have to go that far afield to find some terrific produce as well. In Warrenton there is a farmers market where you could buy meats, poultry, smoked/prepared foods, etc. and I know that some of those producers also sold their goods other markets in the area. Asking around we actually found two neighboring farms in the Plains that sold produce, eggs, and the occasional suckling pig directly to consumers. Sorry I don't have contact info to hand.

                      1. re: vonwotan

                        Organic or not....still washed with chlorine....any commerical poultry processing plant will use chlorine in their wash unless you have access to your own chickens that you butcher are out of luck....

                        1. re: Pollo

                          HOLY CRAP!!! THIS is what is happening...I just threw outa bunch of chicken the other day...then thaw more today....BLEACH! I thought it was the freezer baggies..or the meat,.who the F knows! Thank you...thank you!!!

                  5. In the past I got a whiff of that smell in pre packaged chicken and now only buy chicken at one of the local farmer's markets. I guess the bleach smell could be anything from the feed big commercial processors use to dye which I think some use to make the chicken look like they think buyers want it to look.

                    The chicken I get at the farmer's market is a completely different color than the stuff at the grocery. It's more of a tan to light brown rather than bright yellow and it actually has flavor.

                    As an aside, if I raised chickens myself, I could probably never eat them.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Den

                      my organic chicken is light tan -- none of that yellow color or stinky "chicken" odor. much, much less fat!

                      1. re: Den

                        The yellow color comes from marigold in the feed, not actual dye. I don't know why Perdue thinks people want their chicken yellow though!