Hidden salt in chicken

The practice of chicken “plumping” by the industry has many consumers outraged. Plumping is a term used to refer to injection of salt water, chicken stock, seaweed extract, or some combination of these into chickens – this increases the weight and price of the chicken – plumped chicken can be up to 15% salt water by weight. Of course, cost is important, but even more important is that this practice can also increase the sodium content of the chicken by up to 700%. About 30% of the chickens sold in the U.S. are plumped.

Sodium is not only associated with hypertension – high sodium intake contributes to heart disease, hemorrhagic stroke, kidney disease, osteoporosis, and stomach cancer as well. Conscientious consumers or those with elevated blood pressure who are restricting salt intake to avoid these dangerous outcomes are not expecting there to be anything other than chicken in the package of chicken. The industry is taking advantage of that fact, and adding even more salt into the diets of Americans in the process. Chicken producers say that consumers prefer the taste of plumped chicken, that adding salt water increases moistness and enhances taste - of course it tastes better to most Americans – it’s full of salt!

Taking into account the popularity of chicken among most Americans, this is a serious concern – especially since reducing salt intake in the U.S. by approximately one-third has been estimated to reduce cases of heart attack and stroke by tens of thousands each year. The last thing Americans need is more salt in their diets.

Of course, I recommend minimizing animal products. But if you do occasionally eat chicken, it is simple to make sure that you are paying for only chicken and not salt water. First, remember that “100% Natural” and even “Organic” does not mean that the chicken has not been injected with salt water. Check the ingredient list and the sodium content - chicken meat contains approximately 75 mg sodium per 4-ounce serving – plumped chicken may list up to 440 mg sodium for the same serving size.



  1. Salt-Water-Soaked Chicken Not at all Natural, Says CSPI: http://www.cspinet.org/new/201002241.html
  2. Lifescript: Is Your Chicken too Fat? http://www.lifescript.com/Body/Diet/Eat-well/Is%20Your%20Chicken%20Too%20Fat.aspx?utm_campaign=2010-03-06-46296&utm_source=healthy-advantage&utm_medium=email&utm_content=healthy-well-wise_Is%20Your%20Chicken%20Too%20Fa&FromNL=1&sc_date=20100306T000000
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Comments (3) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Michael Crosby - March 13, 2010 12:47 PM

Wow, thank you Dr Fuhrman. That's pretty surprising.

I recently became aware of HFCS and its ubiguity in most processed foods, especially in drinks.

And that HFCS not only turns to fat more readily than other sugars, it doesn't stimulate the hormone leptin that gives of the feeling of fullness.

After water, in sodas HFCS is the #1 ingredient.

MAC - March 15, 2010 12:22 PM

Our family is moving quickly towards cutting out animal products entirely, but the chicken we do eat we raised ourselves precisely because of this sort of hidden ingredient problem. If I eat an active, healthy chicken whose diet was primarily grass, weeds, insects, and organic seeds (lots of flax), surely it's less harmful than a supermarket bird raised on medicated feed in a 18 inch square foot box.

Rebecca - February 9, 2012 9:58 AM

What poultry processors plum chicken with sodium? I want to avoid buying them.

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