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Why does my chicken smell?


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18 replies to this topic

#1 prasantrin

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 04:29 PM

I often buy chicken at Costco in Japan. According to the packaging/best before dates, I usually get it within a day or two of it being packaged, and a week before the "best before" date. I've noticed the last few times I've bought it that it smells like ammonia or bleach. It tastes fine when cooked, and doesn't smell spoiled, but that ammonia smell bothers me.

Why might the chicken smell like ammonia? Is the ammonia used to prolong the shelf life of the chicken? Or to clean the chicken? Or is it used to hide the smell of not-so-fresh chicken?

Most importantly, should I stop buying it because of the ammonia? Or is the ammonia harmless?

#2 Chris Amirault

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 04:44 PM

I have no authoritative answer here, but I did some reading around, and, well... you might want to read this article, from Science News online:

As anyone knows who's changed a wet diaper or cleaned a cat litter box, ammonia is a volatile natural waste that animals produce in substantial amounts. Indeed, where animals are raised in confinement—such as large chicken houses—indoor concentrations of ammonia, if not vented properly, can damage a chicken's or even a person's eyes. ...

In the atmosphere, ammonia doesn't exist independently for very long. The compound is "relatively sticky" and readily adheres to almost any material it encounters, says Siefert.


Sounds like chicken feces produces a remarkable amount of ammonia. I'm no scientist but, if the chicken meat smells like ammonia and chicken feces smells like ammonia....
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#3 prasantrin

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 08:09 PM

Sounds like chicken feces produces a remarkable amount of ammonia. I'm no scientist but, if the chicken meat smells like ammonia and chicken feces smells like ammonia....

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euuuuwwwwwww! Looks like I won't be buying that chicken any more! Even if the smell is not because of feces, it will still remind me of what you wrote!

#4 Soupcon

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 08:24 PM

The chicken is bad. DO NOT EAT IT. Take it back and demand your money back. Fresh meat or poultry has no smell at all. As it rots ie putrifies, it starts to stink... bacteria are at work munching away. Well hung (aged) game ie fowl in England/Europe smells as it is partially rotten and is an aquired taste. Well aged beef also smells, but the rotten bits that smell are cut off well aged meat before you see it in the butchers case.
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#5 Chris Amirault

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 08:49 PM

Sounds like chicken feces produces a remarkable amount of ammonia. I'm no scientist but, if the chicken meat smells like ammonia and chicken feces smells like ammonia....

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euuuuwwwwwww! Looks like I won't be buying that chicken any more! Even if the smell is not because of feces, it will still remind me of what you wrote!

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Yeah, sorry, Rona. I figured that was going to happen. But, hey, you don't eat used cat litter, right? No great loss to the diet, then, removing ammonia-flavored items.
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#6 Fugu

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 08:57 PM

Had you not mentioned Japan, I would have thought that your source has been washing the chicken in bleach. It was being done here in Toronto until the perpetrators were caught and levied hefty fines.

#7 prasantrin

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 06:03 AM

Had you not mentioned Japan, I would have thought that your source has been washing the chicken in bleach. It was being done here in Toronto until the perpetrators were caught and levied hefty fines.

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Unfortunately, Japan is far from immune (and I often think is more susceptible) to such cases. Read about the Meat Hope scandal.

But, hey, you don't eat used cat litter, right?


Actually, I used to eat sand from the sandbox when I was younger...that's pretty much used cat litter, right? :biggrin: :blink:

The chicken is bad. DO NOT EAT IT. Take it back and demand your money back.


Too late! But I will no longer buy that chicken, and the next time I'm at Costco (which won't be till after I return in September), I'm going to ask them about the smell. It's not Costco chicken, but chicken from an outside source, so maybe the source company is doing something funky with it. No harm in asking, anyway!

#8 ray goud

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 01:08 PM

Had you not mentioned Japan, I would have thought that your source has been washing the chicken in bleach. It was being done here in Toronto until the perpetrators were caught and levied hefty fines.

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Ammonia does not smell like bleach. Bleach smells like chlorine, which is much different than ammonia.
That is very bad chicken.
Ray

#9 UnConundrum

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 05:47 PM

I've also noticed that it pays to watch the bag it's packaged in. When freshly packaged, the bag will often cling to the chicken. As it ages, it gives off gas, and the bag will start to inflate. Just a little is fine, but stay away if it's anything more.....

#10 Fugu

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 07:29 PM

Had you not mentioned Japan, I would have thought that your source has been washing the chicken in bleach. It was being done here in Toronto until the perpetrators were caught and levied hefty fines.

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Ammonia does not smell like bleach. Bleach smells like chlorine, which is much different than ammonia.
That is very bad chicken.
Ray

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The chicken is decomposing and ammonia is one of the by products of decay. Nitirifying bacteria breaks down the ammonia further and turns it into nitrite and eventually to nitrates. The bleach functions as a disinfectant to retard decomposition.

Yes, it is bad chicken especially when people resort to using bleach on food as an oxydizer. The only reason I mentioned bleach, is because Prasantrin mentioned it on her original post. :smile:

Edited by Fugu, 29 July 2007 - 07:35 PM.


#11 ermintrude

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 11:05 AM

Always check your chickens for brown/darkened marks on their hocks (the joints you can see protruding towards you if you look at the back of a packed chicken). An extreme example is shown here http://greenfield.fo...56/hockburn.jpg

If present these are ammonia burns from resting in their own faeces and to the live chicken they are like blisters. 99% of standard supermarket birds will have these, they can often be found on so called free range chickens as well, as often while fulfilling the technical definition of free range the standard of the roost and amount they manage to get out means that these also suffer burns.

A good healthy chicken reared in good condition will not have these marks.
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#12 Darren72

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 11:10 AM

Always check your chickens for brown/darkened marks on their hocks (the joints you can see protruding towards you if you look at the back of a packed chicken). An extreme example is shown here http://greenfield.fo...56/hockburn.jpg

If present these are ammonia burns from resting in their own faeces and to the live chicken they are like blisters. 99% of standard supermarket birds will have these, they can often be found on so called free range chickens as well, as often while fulfilling the technical definition of free range the standard of the roost and amount they manage to get out means that these also suffer burns.

A good healthy chicken reared in good condition will not have these marks.

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This link does not seem to work.

#13 feedmec00kies

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 11:22 AM

This link does not seem to work.

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just copy the link and paste it into a new browser window/tab.. it's some measure to keep bandwidth down or something i think (correct me if i'm wrong; i'm not comp sci major!)

see, this is why most of the time i'd just rather not cook meat myself; it just seems like too much to worry about, when i can just make lots of tasty vegetables and know exactly where they are in their growth/decomposition... unfortunately the boyfriend "needs" meat, so i'm going to have to start dealing with it once we move in together... :sad:
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#14 Fugu

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 07:18 PM

Fishes that are past their prime also has this ammonia smell. I've encountered this on skate wings on more than a few occasions. Sometimes you can't tell just by smelling the outside or touching the skate wings; the ammonia smell only comes out while it is being cooked.

#15 DerekW

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 12:24 PM

...ammonia smell.... on skate wings on more than a few occasions.

Skates [and sharks] dispose of excess urea through their skin - an ammonia smell from these fish is often indicative of poor handling after catch, rather than being a decay byproduct. An acidic wash before cooking will neutralise it; it would probably be preferable to avoid the problem in the first place though..

#16 Fugu

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 08:22 PM

Skates [and sharks] dispose of excess urea through their skin - an ammonia smell from these fish is often indicative of poor handling after catch, rather than being a decay byproduct.  An acidic wash before cooking will neutralise it; it would probably be preferable to avoid the problem in the first place though..

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I don't doubt what you've stated but how do I give an acidic wash a piece of skate wing, when the smell comes from within the cartilage hidden by the flesh?

#17 Fugu

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 08:28 PM

Skates [and sharks] dispose of excess urea through their skin - an ammonia smell from these fish is often indicative of poor handling after catch, rather than being a decay byproduct.  An acidic wash before cooking will neutralise it; it would probably be preferable to avoid the problem in the first place though..

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I don't doubt what you've stated but how do I give an acidic wash a piece of skate wing, when the smell comes from within the cartilage hidden by the flesh?

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Ok, I just found an existing
thread

Both threads mentions and points to decomposition ?

Thanks

Edited by Fugu, 02 August 2007 - 09:24 PM.


#18 DerekW

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Posted 03 August 2007 - 11:51 AM

...how do I give an acidic wash a piece of skate wing, when the smell comes from within the cartilage hidden by the flesh?

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Fillet it? :wink:
Your post mentioned skate, one of very few items to be encountered at the fish-mongers where an ammonia smell might be other than a 'decay' warning. That's not to say that the skate you got was fresh, only that it might have been.

I'm no marine biologist [don't even play one on TV] but there's an interesting overview of recent research into urea disposal and osmotic balance to found in this PDF file on Nitrogen Excretion in fish

We're getting a long way from stinky chicken. Sorry for the hijack.

#19 HarryOhm

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 11:18 AM

On a related note, does it seem as if out of every pack pf drumsticks, a few always have broken bones? Whats worse, at least for me since I skin the chicken, is that a lot of them have this disgusting looking bruised area near the ankle that frankly brings to my mind cancer or some kind of disease. The flesh in this area is usually not pink but kind of clear and there's gel like stuff on it.

Usually out of a pack of 14-16 drumsticks, I get 6-7 relatively unblemished ones.

To think that most people don't skin their chicken and so are eating that gross stuff. :shock:

Yuk....