When I calculated the chicken taco numbers, I noticed that the chicken turned out to be responsible for a large portion of the sodium in the dish.  Why?  Do chickens eat a lot of salt?  Are they naturally salty?  As it turns out, the answer is no.  The problem is in the processing.  In the poultry industry, it’s apparently a common practice to inject the raw chicken with saltwater. (or salty chicken broth) They say, this is to make the meat tastier and more juicy.  They don’t trust you to brine your own chicken?  So how much sodium is added by use of this saltwater plumping?

Just regular raw untouched chicken only has about 55 to 85 mg of sodium per 4 ounce serving. I found an article that reported that when manufactures “enhance” the chicken they add over 400 mg of sodium per serving!  Wowsa!

Now I expect a lot of sodium in frozen dinners, canned foods, processed foods, and canned soups, but in raw chicken?  I never thought of it as being processed, just butchered and cleaned.  I didn’t even know that I should be looking at the chicken label.  I didn’t know that I should be looking for terms like “enhanced” or “up to 15% chicken broth added”.  Even if it says “all natural” it doesn’t mean it hasn’t had this salty treatment.  I guess now I’ll have to start paying attention to that too.  Could they make it any harder to figure out what you’re eating and how to eat healthy!

The numbers that I used for calculating the chicken breast for the tacos came from the SuperTracker web site.  I think that they assume the worst in terms of the chicken you buy and so they list the sodium at the high level automatically. The meat processors are required to list nutrition facts on the chicken label.  Fortunately, the chicken I get from my local grocery doesn’t have all that added sodium.  Whew crisis averted.

nutrition-facts-label-on-chicken