Frequently Asked Questions
What does air-chilled mean?
In fresh poultry processing, chickens must be chilled after being removed of feathers and eviscerated. The chilling method is one of the most important processes affecting the flavor, texture, and overall quality of the end product. When we say air-chilled, we mean that our chickens are individually chilled (without touching another chicken) as they circulate through a series of closely monitored chill chambers. The industry standard is water-immersion chilling, in which chicken is chilled by being tumbled or pulled through a communal water bath that is sanitized by one or more acidic compounds. The process leaves the meat waterlogged, and has adverse effects on the flavor, texture, and overall quality of the chicken. Smart Chicken was the first chicken producer in the United States to implement air-chill technology, and remains the only producer with a USDA Process Verified 100% pure air-chilled, no-water-added product.
Why does Smart Chicken taste so much better than conventional chicken?
From start to finish, our processes are aimed not at speed, volume, and efficiency, but at producing the highest quality, best-tasting chicken on the market. While our operation is resource-conscious, our foremost priority—unlike conventional producers—is the quality of the end product, including taste, tenderness, and wholesomeness. This starts with raising the chickens without antibiotics, and feeding them a natural diet clean of animal by-products and feed additives, and extends all the way to processing, where Smart Chickens are air-chilled, butchered and trimmed by hand, and never injected with broth or other enhancing solutions.
Are Smart Chicken products gluten free?
Yes. Fresh meats and poultry are typically not associated with gluten, but some processing additives (namely breading, flavorings, broths, and marinades) can be cause for concern, as well as cross-contamination issues at the processing level. Smart Chicken consumers can be confident that all products are gluten-free and diligently processed and packaged to remain gluten free.
Do Smart Chicken products contain nitrates, nitrites, or MSG?
No. These preservatives and additives do not fit into the mission of producing a high-quality, natural product that is good for consumers and their families.
Where can I find Smart Chicken products?
To locate a retailer near you, go to the Find a Retailer page, and enter your postal code and travel radius.
CARE & HUSBANDRY
Are Smart Chicken birds humanely handled?
Humane animal handling is a foremost priority at every level of production. Our organic birds are certified humane in accordance with HFAC (Humane Farm Animal Care) standards. Our chickens are also sacrificed humanely using a state-of-the-art controlled atmosphere system that gently puts them to sleep. The result is a better quality of life for the chickens, a better working environment for our employees, and a higher-quality end product for consumers.
Is Smart Chicken hormone- and antibiotic-free?
Yes. Smart Chicken does not use antibiotics, and instead focuses efforts on providing birds the most ideal environment possible to promote health and prevent the kind of illness in chickens that renders antibiotics necessary in the first place. Hormones have been outlawed by the FDA in poultry production since the 1950s.
Are Smart Chicken birds fed animal by-products?
No. Smart Chicken never employs the use of animal by-products, which are sometimes utilized in poultry production to artificially hasten growth and increase weight gain.
Is roxarsone (arsenic) used in Smart Chicken products?
Roxarsone is a derivative of arsenic that’s often used as an additive in chicken feed to help promote growth, control parasites, and improve feed efficiency. Smart Chicken does not use roxarsone—or any other form of arsenic—in its feed, and never has.
Where are Smart Chicken birds raised and processed?
All Tecumseh Farms chickens are hatched, raised, harvested, and processed in the United States. The concept of keeping the business model local has been a priority since the founding of the company back in the 1990s, when Smart Chicken established roots in the Midwest, where we’re still based today.
Does Smart Chicken use GMO grains?
All organic Smart Chicken birds are raised on feed that is both certified non-GMO and certified organic. The Smart Chicken product lines are nearly identical, but sourced feed grains are not verified GMO-free due mostly to limited availability.
How are feed grains sourced?
The vast majority of feed grains grown in the United Sates are produced in the Midwest, which is where Tecumseh Farms is headquartered. Smart Chicken birds are raised in barns and processed in facilities that were literally built in corn and soybean fields. When it comes to certified organic, certified non-GMO corn and soybeans, Smart Chicken remains committed to locally sourcing these grains too, which has proved challenging due to their limited availability.
Are Smart Chicken trays recyclable?
Smart Chicken packages products in recyclable trays for some markets. However, the cost of producing only recyclable trays is high, and it’s one that’s passed along to end-consumers and their families. As a result, these trays are only available in markets where customers have indicated a willingness to pay the higher cost. If you’re interested in purchasing Smart Chicken in recyclable trays, please talk directly with the meat manager at your local grocer, who can request them specifically.
Are Smart Chicken products farm-to-fork traceable?
Yes. Every Smart Chicken product can be traced back to the flock and barn in which it was raised by the numerical code printed on the package.
What food safety protocols are in practice at Smart Chicken facilities?
In addition to USDA-mandated protocols, Smart Chicken is the only chicken company in the country to obtain the SQF (Safe Quality Foods) Level 3 certification—the highest level of food safety in the industry. Recognized by GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative) and administered by the FMI (Food Marketing Institute), the SQF program focuses on comprehensive food safety practices and quality management systems to ensure that all stages of production are safe.
What’s the best way to thaw frozen chicken?
The FSIS (Food Safety and Inspection Service) recommends thawing meats in the refrigerator, under cold running water, or in the microwave on the defrost setting. Never thaw frozen chicken or other frozen meats on the countertop.
Should I rinse chicken before prepping and cooking it?
Rinsing meat, poultry, or seafood with water actually splashes juices (and any bacteria they might contain) onto your sink and countertops. Skip the rinsing, and just be sure to cook the chicken to the proper internal temperature (165°F).
How do I know when chicken is fully cooked?
The only accurate way to determine if meats are fully cooked is by using a meat thermometer. Inserted into the thickest portion of the cut (without touching bone), the thermometer should read 165°F for chicken.
How long can prepared foods be left at room temperature?
The FSIS recommends refrigerating perishable foods within two hours. In warm weather, cut this time down to one hour.