Chickens, like all other animals, have a complex network of blood vessels and systems that transport essential nutrients to the different parts of its body in order to sustain its life.
When we consume chicken, it is not uncommon to chance upon a chicken vein here and there, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise to us because we know that it used to be a vital part of a chicken’s life system.
When we do encounter it though, it might still come as a shock to us because a majority of us only see the clean, processed chicken meats at the grocery store, and are far removed from the actual practice of meat butchering and processing.
Because of this, we can tend to forget that the chicken we are consuming used to be part of a living, breathing system and thus would have some evidence of this system, sometimes in the form of veins.
So, the veins you might see in your chicken wings are normal, but what exactly is it? And is it safe to eat?
Veins in Chicken Wings?
Chicken veins are part of a complex living system that transports blood and other nutrients throughout the chicken’s body. It is what sustains and nourishes the chicken during its lifetime. Most of it is removed during meat processing but you may occasionally encounter it in your chicken, depending also on the part of the chicken. However, as long the chicken is properly cleaned and all parts are cooked to a safe internal temperature of at least 165 °F, it will be safe to eat.
How is Chicken Meat Processed?
Chicken goes through a multi-step process of cleaning and processing before it reaches the form it does in the grocery store. From removing the feathers, and the blood and taking out parts that will not be used is a process that ensures that the chicken will be as safe as it can be for consumption.
Is That a Chicken Vein On My Chicken Wing?
As mentioned, meat processing cleans the chicken so that it can be ready for consumption, and this includes the removal of the blood, veins, and arteries as well as some other parts.
Most of it is removed during processing but you may occasionally see small ones in raw chicken if you look closely.
This is normal and is not harmful and will not adversely affect the taste of your chicken as long as the chicken is of good quality and as long as it adhered to the stringent standards of processing and butchering.
Factors that Affect The Color of Chicken Meat
The color of chicken meat can be affected by a variety of factors.
1. The Presence of a Protein called Myoglobin
What we commonly think of as blood in our chicken is actually not blood, but water that’s mixed with a protein called myoglobin. Myoglobin is the protein responsible for bringing oxygen to muscle cells and is what gives meat its reddish color.
The more myoglobin that’s present in the meat, the more that the meat will appear a darker red. The “blood” we see in raw chicken sold in grocery stores is just that – moisture from chicken mixed with myoglobin, resulting in pink juices.
Myoglobin also interacts with internal and external factors such as moisture, temperature, and oxygen levels, which explains why our meat, raw or cooked, would vary in color.
2. Diet, Age, Sex and Exercise Level of Chicken
The color of chicken meat is also affected by how old the chicken is, what diet it was fed and how much exercise it got. In general, the older the chicken and the more exercise it got, the more myoglobin, hence the darker the meat.
3. Storage and Handling
How the chicken was processed and handled also play a factor in the color of the meat. Freezing and thawing, for example, would normally change the color of chicken meat due to factors like oxygen levels and temperature.
It will change the appearance of the chicken, but as long as there are no other signs of spoilage, it will be safe to consume.
Signs that Chicken Has Gone Bad
1. Change in color
Change in color alone will not solely determine that the chicken has gone bad because as we mentioned, oxidation and temperature levels play a factor in the color of chicken meat.
In general, though, chicken meat should be pinkish in hue. As it spoils, it will turn into a duller gray color. If your chicken has turned gray, it will be best to not eat it, especially if it was not properly stored.
2. Change in Odor
Of course, your raw chicken will have a raw meat smell, but if it develops an odor that is rancid and foul and severely off-putting, it is a sign that it has gone bad.
3. Texture Changes
If your chicken has a slimy or sticky texture or if there is visible mold, it has probably gone bad and it’s best to toss it in the bin.
4. Way of Storage
According to the USDA and FDA, raw chicken can only be safely stored in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours. If your chicken has been stored in the fridge for longer, it will likely not be safe to consume.
Tips to Safely Consume Chicken Wings
1. Make sure chicken is cooked to the right temperature
No matter what cooking method you use, make sure that your chicken wings reach an internal temperature of at least 165 °F as per food safety regulations.
Only beyond this temperature will they be safe to consume and be free from harmful bacteria that may cause food-borne illnesses.
2. Buy meat from reliable meat sources that adhere to strict food safety standards
Make sure to buy meat only from reliable meat sources and butchers that adhere to the strictest food safety standards.
This not only ensures that your meat is handled and stored properly, but it will also encourage meat producers to follow all the set regulations for the safety of the general public.
3. Make sure there are no signs of spoilage
Check for signs of spoilage such as color, odor, and texture. It is not worth cooking meat that is not fresh. It will not taste as good as fresh chicken, and moreover, you will be taking a huge health risk.
4. Store raw chicken properly
Make sure that you follow food safety regulations for storing raw chicken meat. Raw chicken should only be stored for 24-48 hours in the refrigerator. It lasts much longer in the freezer, from 9 months to 1 year, if properly stored.
But to be honest, there is no need to buy chicken that early if you plan to cook it for next year. Fresh chicken is readily available anywhere and it is best to purchase it if you plan to cook it within a couple of days.
Conclusion About Veins in Chicken Wings
Because of meat processing, most of the chicken is cleaned and processed before it gets to us. However, as we have seen, it is quite normal to see veins in your chicken wings from time to time.
They do not interfere with the overall taste and texture of the chicken and will not impart an off flavor to your recipes. As long as you source your chicken from a reputable source, store and prepare it properly, and make sure it is cooked to a temperature of at least 165 °F, it will be safe for you to eat it.
Frequently Asked Questions to Veins in chicken wings? What is it? Safe to Eat?
Is it safe to eat the veins in chicken wings?
Yes, it is safe to eat. Most of the veins and arteries are removed from the chicken during meat processing, but should you encounter one in your chicken wings, they do not present any particular risk to consumers and will not adversely impact your recipe.
Why are my chicken wings bloody?
Part of the process of meat processing is the removal of the blood from the chicken. What we see in our grocery-bought chicken wings is not blood, but rather a water that’s been mixed with a protein called myoglobin. This protein is responsible for bringing oxygen to the muscles and is responsible for meat’s red hue. The more myoglobin that’s present in the meat, the more that the meat will appear a darker red. This does not affect the flavor of the meat and as long as the chicken is cooked to a safe internal temperature of at least 165 °F, it will be safe to eat.