KARACHI: Medical experts at a conference 'Common Food Controversy,' organised by Pakistan Nutrition and Dietetic Society (PNDS), said that broiler chicken and monosodium glutamate (Chinese salt) is a mystery. Research shows that they can be consumed and that the broiler chicken's meat does help in meeting the nutritional needs, they should not be made a regular part of a diet, said the experts adding that the excessive use of anything was dangerous.
The panel 'For locals, the broiler chicken is a mystery,' included Dr Syed Muhammad Ghufran Saeed, Dr Zafar and Sabeen Gul.
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Dr Syed said that 'desi' chickens are usually thought of as healthy, nutritional and tasty meals. When we talk about giving a patient soup it should be made using desi chicken as that is healthy. This is because the 'desi' chicken and broiler chicken are different. While desi chickens take around six months to mature, broiler chickens are ready to be consumed in six to eight weeks. There are genetic differences between the two as well, added Dr Syed.
Dr Zafar said that broiler chicken is given specific foods, unlike the desi chicken. He added that broiler chickens fulfil the protein needs of people around the world and without it, fulfilling the nutritional needs of humans was impossible. Broiler chickens are given antibiotics, some of which are filtered out through their liver and some filtered out through their stomach. Research has shown, however, that arsenic is found in broiler chickens, he added.
According to Gul, there is no truth in the rumours that broiler chicken is given steroids or hormones. She said that the chicken is bought from the market, they are tested and while preparing their feed, nutrition is a high priority. She added the information that chickens are fed antibiotics was false. If a chicken is ill only then it is given an antibiotic but otherwise a balanced diet is provided to chickens, she said.
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PNDS President Rabia Anwar said that monosodium glutamate (msg), commonly known as Chinese salt, is used to heighten the taste of food. Glutamic acid is naturally found in tomato, grapes, paneer (cottage cheese), mushrooms and other food products. She said that its use, however, has become controversial, which is why food and drug administration issued directives that the products containing msg should clearly mention its use on their labels. She further said that scientifically it hasn't yet been proven that msg is injurious to health and so people can consume it.