Experts have advised consumers to avoid extra-heavy and extra-fatty birds when they buy chicken to get around unscrupulous vendors who are reportedly pushing breeder broiler birds into the market to make hay in the volatile meat market in Kerala.

“Kerala meat market, especially market for chicken, has been a free-for-all these years as evident from events two months ago when sellers from a neighbouring State tried to hold Kerala to ransom through artificially-created scarcity of the meat,” said a senior official of Kerala State Poultry Development Corporation on Saturday.

The deficit in local production has pushed up demand and reports indicate that even six months to one-year-old breeder birds are sold in the market to meet the demand. These birds, reportedly banned in some of the neighbouring States, find their way into the Kerala market because of a lack of system to check meat quality.

The extra-fibrous and tough birds pass for broiler chicken, meat of which are generally tender and less fatty. Broiler chickens achieve a weight of between 1.8 and 2 kgs in 40 to 45 days. However, the breeder birds are much older, heavier, fatter and have tougher meat, said a senior scientist at the Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University. “The problem of scarcity has become a serious issue of late as Kerala produces just a lakh birds against the demand for around four lakh birds a day,” said the official of the Kerala State Poultry Development Corporation. He said that the chicken market in Kerala appeared to be unhealthy because birds fed on animal fat and laced with growth hormones might be making their way into the market. The situation can get worse as there is no means to frequently and cheaply test meat available in the market for their quality, the official said.

“Chicken fed on animal fat tend to ooze fat-like substance on being dressed and their meat is more slippery to handle and virtually tasteless on being cooked,” the official pointed out cautioning buyers.

More In: Kochi