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Food - Drink
What Does It Mean When Grocery Store Chicken Is Air-Chilled?
Most poultry producers in the U.S. use certain methods to chill freshly-slaughtered chickens for preservation and storage, and immersion chilling is most common. This method involves dunking chickens in ice-cold water, and it has its own pros and cons — and the cons have led some companies and consumers to prefer air chilling.
Air chilling is a multi-step process in which freshly slaughtered and de-feathered chickens are suspended individually from a track, then passed through a series of "cooling chambers," lowering their temperature over a period of hours. The method uses no water and is gentler on the meat, giving it some clear advantages.
Air chilling has a lower risk of cross-contamination because birds are processed individually, and also avoids water absorption, which adds "water weight" to chicken that dilutes its flavor and makes you pay for extra water instead of meat. However, air chilling is time-consuming, so the price per pound for the chicken is usually slightly higher.