1 of America's food staples is going through a terrifying change

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'Woody' Chicken Breasts Could Hurt the Industry

The food industry has been breeding larger chickens to meet rising demand for white meat, and it's resulting in an unwanted side effect.

A growing number of these larger chickens are suffering from what the industry calls "woody breast," Kelsey Gee reports at the Wall Street Journal.

It means the breast fillets are laced with fibers that make the meat chewier and somewhat "gummy," Gee reports.

"It is more hard, and also more elastic, so you have to put more energy in to chew on this kind of meat," Massimiliano Petracci, a food scientist at Italy's University of Bologna, told the Journal.

The issue isn't catastrophic — yet.

Woody breast only appears in about 5% to 10% of boneless breast fillets worldwide, according to Petracci.

Over time, this percentage could rise, and it could result in diminishing returns for chicken producers and chewier chicken for consumers.

"Industry analysts say woody breast eventually could cut into producers' revenues if breast meat has to be sold at a steep discount or customers demand that the companies raise smaller birds," Gee reports.

Poultry processor Sanderson Farms said it discovered the emergence of woody breast in its products following complaints from restaurant and retail customers, according to the Journal.

The company now requires processing plant employees to feel every one of its chicken breasts to determine whether it has woody breast. The breasts that have the affliction are sold at a discount.

Read the full story by the Journal here.

Related: Learn more about the lives of cage-free chickens:

NTP: Cage-free chickens
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1 of America's food staples is going through a terrifying change

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