Food labels can be confusing, with an ever-increasing number of buzzwords to decipher and seemingly small distinctions that actually mean a lot. What exactly does natural mean? How do you determine if an animal was given antibiotics? Who has time to stop and read all the fine print on a label at the store anyway? Smart Chicken’s high standards and diligent care at every step mean that, when you choose Smart Chicken®, you never have to worry about the standard of care or quality behind every product.
There are two key phrases to look for on poultry packaging regarding antibiotics. The first, antibiotic-free, does not mean the animal never received antibiotics during its life. It means only that if the animal was administered medication, it went through the designated withdrawal period before being harvested. The intent is to ensure that antibiotic residues are no longer present in the product by the time it reaches the consumer. This statement is, therefore, true of all meat sold to consumers, as designated withdrawal periods are required of all animals administered antibiotics before they are processed and packaged for retail.
Raised without antibiotics, on the other hand, means that the animal was never given antibiotics at any point in its life. Tecumseh Poultry does not administer antibiotics to its birds at any point in the process and never has. Instead, emphasis is placed on providing an overall higher standard of care for the chickens. They stay healthy, which eliminates the need for antibiotics.
Keeping chickens healthy without the use of antibiotics starts with a different approach to care—one that focuses on providing the best possible environment and living conditions for the birds, instead of on raising as many birds with as few resources as possible (the approach historically taken by producers). The birds destined to become Smart Chicken are raised in temperature- and humidity-controlled barns, free of cages and other enclosures. They are fed an all-vegetarian diet consisting primarily of locally sourced corn and soybean meal; an in-house poultry nutritionist oversees the birds’ diet to ensure that ingredients used for feed are of the highest quality, and that the feed is consistently meeting the chicken’s natural metabolic requirements. Once ready for processing, each bird is hand-caught to reduce stress and injury (instead of being caught by large machines). These kinds of details and the investment in time, expertise, and resources at every step leads to an overall better product—one that’s fresher, more tender, and better tasting than any other chicken on the market.
This attention to detail continues at the processing level. Perhaps the consideration that has the biggest effect on the quality of the end product is the method by which fresh chicken is chilled during processing. After they are sacrificed, the birds must be brought to an internal temperature below 40ºF as quickly as possible. The industry standard is to submerge the chickens in a chlorinated water bath. In addition to the potential to share pathogens in the communal tubs, chickens also absorb large amounts of water during the process, adversely affecting the texture and flavor of the chicken once cooked. Smart Chicken uses a USDA verified 100% pure air chilling process, which moves the birds through a series of chill chambers. No added water means no soggy, flavorless chicken. Seasonings and marinades permeate the meat, which is never waterlogged or rubbery, and the skin crisps to perfection when roasted.
Quality & Convenience
Smart Chicken products are also hand trimmed by skilled personnel. This means that, when you buy Smart Chicken, you get useable chicken that’s ready to cook—no extra fuss and no extra mess in your kitchen. Whole Smart Chickens are even trussed with giblets removed for added convenience. You save time that would normally be spent trimming and, because commodity chicken is priced by the pound, you don’t pay for any waste.
With Smart Chicken, you get consistent quality you can trust, and chicken that’s raised the right way, looks and smells fresh in the package, and tastes great. It’s the best value for consumers seeking responsibly raised chicken that’s moist and delicious every time.