Ian Calderon

AB 682 - Public Contracts: Poultry Plumping

More than six million California adults, 23 percent of the state’s population, are obese and an additional 9.3 million adults, 34 percent of the state’s population, are overweight, resulting in $21 billion in estimated health care costs for California in 2006. One in three California children, ages 10-17, is overweight or obese. Therefore, offering healthy food options at schools and state workplaces would help increase the consumption of foods that are low in fat, sodium, and sugars, thereby reducing the instances of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other preventable health conditions.

AB 682 would have required that chicken or turkey purchased to be sold or served in any state-owned or state-leased building or public school facility at food concessions and cafeterias not be “plumped” in any way.

The practice of “plumping” is the injection of saltwater, chicken stock, seaweed extract, or some combination thereof into chicken or turkey to increase its weight and price. “Plumping” can increase the sodium content by up to 500%. Fresh-natural chicken should have no more than 70mg of sodium per four ounce serving, whereas plumped chicken can contain up to 400mg of sodium. The average household of four people because of “plumping” chicken or turkey spends approximately $127 per year on saltwater.

Because poultry products that are plumped can still be labeled “100% All Natural” according to FDA labeling guidelines the only way consumers can tell if a chicken has been plumped is to check the fine print for a phrase such as “contains up to 15% saltwater” or check the FDA Nutritional Facts to make sure the poultry has no more than 70mg of sodium per 4 ounce serving.

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