Fresh Poultry
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In practice, “Fresh Poultry” means Raw Poultry and can either be freshly butchered Poultry if you live on a farm, or more typically, refrigerated poultry if you are a home or restaurant chef. Frequently, Free Range and/or Organic poultry will not be frozen and will also carry the label “Fresh Poultry.”

Purchasing

Fresh Poultry is extremely perishable.  It should remain out of The Food Danger Zone as much as possible, even including purchasing it last, just before you check out, and transporting it home.

Fresh Poultry is best used within 24 hours of receiving it, but, can keep at most 4 days under constant refrigeration. Be very careful when working with Fresh Poultry as it can carry Salmonella

Avoid Cross-Contamination by washing all equipment, utensils and cutting surfaces after working with raw Fresh Poultry.  Don’t let the juices from raw Fresh Poultry drip into or onto other foods, especially already cooked foods.

Most chefs and experts will prefer Fresh Chicken to Frozen Chicken. Fresh has better taste and texture. Frozen product is subject to evaporation and moisture loss during the freezing process.

Roughly one third of the fresh Chicken sold in the U.S. is “plumped” with water and salt.  It can also have added to it a seaweed extract called Carrageenan that helps it retain extra water. A plumped fresh Chicken can still be labeled “All Natural” or “100% Natural” according to U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Fresh can also mean Live Poultry. Many Asian markets and slaughterhouses still sell live birds which are cooked as a traditional family ritual. Some Buddhist sects also make offerings of live poultry to their ancestors.

Storage

Poultry is typically distributed as either Fresh Poultry or Frozen Poultry. According to the FSIS’s definition of fresh poultry since 1997, “Fresh" means whole poultry and cuts that have never been frozen or specifically taken below 26 °F (-3.33°C), which is the temperature at which poultry freezes.

In practice, Fresh Poultry can include both refrigerated and live poultry. We are most likely to see refrigerated poultry in our normal shopping venues, but Asian Markets and Asian Butchers do specialize in selling Live Poultry for special occasions and ceremonial uses.

Fresh refrigerated Poultry should always have a sticker or statement saying, “Keep Refrigerated.”

Nutrition

Non-plumped chicken has about 45 to 60 mg of sodium per 4-ounce serving. Plumped chickens have between 200 to 400 mg of sodium per serving, almost the same amount of sodium as a serving of French Fries, making plumped, fresh chicken a bad deal.

The best way to tell if the chicken you are considering has been plumped and/or contains carrageenan is to read the nutritional and ingredients labels.