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How to know if there's chlorine on your chicken

May 3, 2019

You may already be privy to the fact that it is standard procedure for chickens to take a chlorine bath when being processed.

97% of chickens processed in USDA facilities are bathed in chlorine - even certified organic farms and their processors do it.


You see, after a chicken is defeathered, it is always and immediately put into an ice bath. This is important. It cools down the chicken immediately and reduces the risk of the chicken spoiling.

However, when you’re processing a lot of chickens, they all take this bath together. So, if there is one chicken that has, let’s say, a high amount of salmonella, it could spread the bacteria to all the chickens in the bath.

This is why the USDA demands that meat processors use an additional layer of sanitation. The most popular and widely used method is adding chlorine to the ice bath.

According to the USDA, chlorine bathed chickens are completely safe for consumption.

However, if you’re reading this newsletter, you likely want to avoid anything synthetic, especially in your food. And, you’re not alone. The EU has banned chlorine-washed chickens in European countries for concerns over safety and effectiveness.

How can you know if there’s chlorine on or in your chicken? You can’t! It’s undetectable to the human senses.


It’s not required to disclose sanitation ingredients like chlorine, soap, etc on packaging. Given the statistics, it’s pretty safe to assume that, if you purchase chicken in a store in the US, it has chlorine on or in it.

The only way to 100% know if there’s chlorine in your chicken is to know your farmer.


Our farmer is meticulous about his all-natural farming and processing practices. That’s why he found a wonderful processor who will use a more natural alternative to chlorine - Birko’s Chicxide, a blend of lactic and citric acids.

I spoke with a very helpful Birko employee. He gave me some additional information not provided on the product’s technical sheet.

Chicxide is made in an industrial facility by the process of fermentation, which I think is pretty neat. The lactic acid is produced by fermenting corn, and the citric acid is produced by fermenting a mixture of cassava and corn.

The farmer is happy to be able to take this extra step for your safety and limiting your exposure to potentially detrimental bacteria such as salmonella.

Enjoy the food!

Marie Reedell

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