If you've ever wondered what the white stripes on chicken breasts are, prepare to be utterly disgusted. As it turns out, these marks do not belong on chicken — not even raw chicken. Instead, they're a telltale sign that something was wrong with the bird's muscles.
Raw chicken with a white stripe means that the animal had a muscle disorder. Even though the chicken is obviously no longer alive, its muscle disorder can affect what you get from eating it, according to a 2013 study published in the Italian Journal of Animal Science. This is no reason to panic and throw away tonight's dinner: Your overall health is not in danger. But the news still isn't exactly good.
This condition ups the fat content of the meat by a whopping 224 percent and lowers the amount of protein — one of the biggest nutritional benefits we normally get from eating chicken breasts. On top of that, a 2016 study by University of Arkansas and Texas A&M says this condition also "negatively impacts meat quality" before you get a chance to pop the cooked poultry in your mouth.
So essentially, not only do the white stripes make chicken a less healthy option to eat, they also make it taste worse than it would without them. Unfortunately, experts at the University of Arkansas and Texas A&M have warned that this condition may become more common in chicken meat as time goes on. After all, Americans are consuming more and more chicken — the average American eats an estimated 91 pounds per year — so this supply and demand may encourage farmers to produce bigger birds in less time. And with these big birds may come bigger muscle problems. In other words, don't be shocked if you start seeing more white stripes on chicken breasts in your local grocery store.
A spokesman for the National Chicken Council told Buzzfeed that these white stripes only affect a "small percentage of chicken meat," and that a stripe "does not create any health or food safety concerns for people." Generally, as long as it's not breaded or fried, chicken is still an overall healthy food choice.
Phew! But like always, it never hurts to keep your eyes peeled — especially when it comes to your food.