3 Chicken Mysteries Solved

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Cook enough chicken, and you’ll become an expert in safe handling of raw poultry and proper cooking times and temperatures

But how much do you know about chicken colors—from bones, to skin, to cooked meat? 

In today’s post, we unravel three common mysteries. 


1. Why are the bones on my chicken so dark?

Darkening around bones primarily occurs in broiler-fryers—tender chickens that are about 7 weeks old and weigh 2½ to 4½ pounds. 

These chickens are young, so their bones are porous and have not completely calcified. Pigment from bone marrow can seep through to the bones. Freezing can also contribute to seepage. 

When the chicken is cooked, the pigment turns dark, but it’s perfectly safe to eat. 

2. Why does skin color vary?

 The color of chicken skin may range from cream to yellow, and it reflects the type of feed consumed. It’s not a measure of nutritional value, flavor, tenderness or fat content. 


Preferences actually vary in different parts of the country, so growers use particular feeds that produce the desired skin color.

3. The meat on my cooked chicken is pink. Is it safe to eat?

Color doesn’t tell you much about doneness. To be safe, you need a meat and poultry thermometer. Cooked chicken must reach a minimum internal temperature of 165°F (throughout the bird). 

If your food thermometer registers a safe temperature and your chicken is still pink, chalk it up to the hemoglobin in tissues, which can produce a heat-stable color. Smoking or grilling may also cause this reaction, which occurs more frequently in young birds.

Top photo: jinnyjuice

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