Frozen chicken breasts for sale in some U.K. grocery stores have a little surprise for its buyers – they may be made up of nearly 20 percent water and additives. This means that people may be paying for water in a good portion of their meat!

The Guardian reports that, for example, “Westbridge Food Group, is importing raw frozen Brazilian chicken to which salt or a mix of corn oil and salt has already been added, then ‘tumbling’ it with water and water-binding additives.”


The chicken is then repacked and marked for sale as frozen chicken breasts. Other experts estimate that “some companies are marketing poultry pumped with 30 percent water as a way of cutting costs.”  Is this legal?

Well, according to guidance by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), “It is illegal in the EU to reprocess frozen chicken preparations unless they are cooked or being made into composite products.” However, it’s not illegal to sell chicken with added water if it’s clearly “declared.”

According to The Guardian, “The legality hangs on whether the chicken is defined after tumbling with water as a ‘preparation’ or a ‘product’ that no longer retains the characteristics of raw meat.”

Dr. Duncan Campbell, a former president of the Association of Public Analysts, states, “Consumers are being swindled.”

Does the U.S. mirror any of these behaviors in its poultry processing?

According to the USDA, all added solutions must be declared on the package. The organization mentions that some water may be retained in raw poultry from its processing: “Poultry is not injected with water, but some water is absorbed during cooling in a ‘chill-tank,’ a large vat of cold, moving water. The chill-tank lowers the temperature of the slaughtered birds and their giblets (hearts, livers, gizzards, etc). During this water chilling process, turkeys and chickens will absorb some of the water, and this amount must be prominently declared on the label. It is not unusual for poultry to declare 8 to 12 percent retained water on the label.”

No matter what country you live in, this might be good cause to cut some of your meat consumption. When you add “paying for  water” to the many reasons cutting meat out of your diet is a great idea, things may finally start to add up! If you’ve been considering eating less meat, here’s a list of a few reasons why cutting your intake of chicken might be a good idea.