Frozen meat next best thing

PETALING JAYA: Frozen chicken is healthy to consume as it has almost the same nutritional content as fresh chicken, says nutritionists.

Following the shortage of chicken, the government abolished the need of an approved permit (AP) to import chicken to increase the supply of such birds in the country.

Universiti Putra Malaysia Department of Food Science senior lecturer Dr Nurul Shazini Ramli said: “Frozen chicken is nutritious as it is able to preserve vitamins and minerals such as protein and Vitamin D.

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“Unless chemicals are used to freeze those chickens, the chickens can be deemed as nutritious.

“Certain vitamins are heat-sensitive and it will oxidise if they are exposed to heat such as Vitamin D, but since these chickens are frozen, there is no problem as they can retain the nutrition,” she said.

Dr Nurul revealed that the shelf life of whole frozen chicken is up to three months while chicken pieces are up to 12 months, and there are very minimal changes in the protein and fat content in this duration.

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“Fat and protein might be oxidised during this period but the changes are very minimal and should not have any effect.

“Even if these chickens are consumed after their shelf life, it is still safe to consume, especially if properly sealed,” she said.

“After its shelf life, there may only be some slight changes to the taste as it will lose more moisture, hence drying the meat but there will be no changes to its nutritional value.”

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Universiti Teknologi Mara Department of Dietetics nutritionist Assoc Prof Dr Norazmir Md Nor seconded that opinion and said the nutrition value lies in the cooking style of chicken.

“Yes, both frozen and fresh chickens don’t have much difference in terms of nutritional value but it really depends on how the chicken is cooked.

“If you fry fresh chicken with lots of oil but grill frozen chicken, which one is healthier?” he said.

Frozen imported chickens, he shared, go through more processes after being slaughtered such as vacuuming to absorb moisture and retain the nutrition and vitamins.

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“Suppliers have to also ensure the storage temperature is suitable when storing and transporting to prevent bacterial growth and use the first in first out (FiFo) policy to retain the nutritional value.

“Most frozen chickens are halal certified, acknowledged by the hazard analysis critical control point (HACCP), which is a food safety certificate and veterinary inspection that can be seen on their packaging.

“So even when there is a slight difference in its nutritional value, it is still healthy and nutritious to be consumed,” he said.

However, he advised consumers to only buy weekly stock of either fresh or frozen chicken as there is still room for bacteria growth as it is just inactive in cold temperature.

“When thawing, please refrain from thawing at room temperature because when its core temperature rises, bacteria might start to be active and multiply, especially when there’s water activity, and that can cause food poisoning,” he said.

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