South Africa’s food hygiene officials have stated that frozen chicken, injected with brine, does not pose a health risk to consumers.
The official statements came in a reaction to claims made by some meat importers and exporters that locally produced frozen poultry contains too much sodium.
South Africa’s Department of Agriculture announced last month that it has drafted changes to the Agricultural Product Standards Act aimed at reducing the level of brine in chicken to four percent.
David Wolpert, chief executive of the Association of Meat Importers and Exporters of SA said that brine levels in chicken in South Africa were as high as 30 percent.
Eco-Wize, a food hygiene group, says it doesn’t know of any legitimate studies that show how frozen chicken injected with brine could be harmful to humans.
Gareth Lloyd Jones, managing director of Eco-Wize, says the World Health Organisation has identified a loaf of bread as containing more sodium than frozen chicken.
He says wide sweeping statements about the safety of poultry could harm the local industry.
“Brine injection is specific to frozen chicken. We have a number of fresh products on our shelves from local chicken poultry producers that are not injected at all. All the fresh stuff that you see in your shopping centres is not injected.
“It is only individually quick-frozen portions that have been injected for the purposes of preservation during the freezing process, and also to add a certain flavour,” he said.
Lloyd Jones says imported chicken that is frozen, thawed, injected with brine and then re-frozen could pose greater health risks than locally produced food.