Ask Leah! The Ingles Dietitian

Sponsored: Are chickens given steroids?

ingles dietitianQUESTION: Are chickens given steroids? 


Despite what you may have heard from that TV celebrity doctor, the fearmongering food blogger, or even a well-intentioned neighbor; chickens in the United States are not given hormones (steroids) to promote their growth, and in fact it’s illegal.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prohibits the use of steroid hormones for poultry, “No steroid hormones are approved for growth purposes in dairy cattle, veal calves, pigs, or poultry.”



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But why do you see a packages of chicken that says “hormone-free” or “no growth hormones”?  

Well folks, in a word, it’s all about marketing. 

Why are chickens bigger now bigger than they were even 30 years ago? It’s not because of hormones or chemicals. One of the main reasons why chickens are larger is due to consumer demand for breast meat (white meat) that causes “commercial selection”. Chickens can be selectively bred to get larger chickens. Size of chickens can also be affected by the breed of chicken, the conditions the birds are kept in, and the nutritional content of their feed. 



Leah McGrath, RDN, LDN

Ingles Markets Corporate Dietitian



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