Food, health and nutrition: where does chicken fit?
The link between diet and health is important, given the prevalence of diet-related disease, including obesity, in the Australian population. Consumers need to be able to discriminate between foods based on the nutritional contribution of each to a healthy diet. They also need to be able to discriminate between foods in a broader context, considering issues such as food safety, how the food is produced and the environmental consequences of its production. This review outlines the position of chicken in the Australian diet from a health, consumer and environmental perspective. Chicken can contribute to a healthy eating pattern. It is an important source of protein. The predominant cut consumed, breast meat, is low in fat, with its fat profile favouring polyunsaturated, rather than saturated, fatty acids. Chicken meat delivers essential vitamins and minerals and is the most affordable meat source. As with all meats, care is required with preparation but consumers find it easy to use. The Australian chicken industry is a significant contributor to the economy and, of the land based animal production systems, chicken meat production creates the least environmental burden.