The American Association of Avian Pathologists (AAAP) showed that the three diseases – woody breast, white striping and deep pectoral myopathy – do not pose any further threats.
The illnesses have been seen in all breed crosses of broiler chickens as young as two weeks of age, with differing prevalence dependent on a wide range of slaughter weights, management, feeding and rearing systems.
While it is unknown what causes the diseases, inadequate blood supply to the tissue, a lower rate of blood supply and a decline in metabolic waste-product removal (carbon dioxide and lactic acid) from the muscle fibres are “likely to be involved” according to the AAAP.
The association identified consumer preference for white meat and economic forces as driving the demand for a steady increase in market weight for broiler chickens. Regardless of this, the chickens are still considered to be juveniles when harvested. This period in their lives is a time where there is a high rate of cellular protein synthesis and accumulation, leading to efficient animal growth, including the muscle tissue.
“Muscle growth is a complex and highly regulated process – one that naturally involves both protein synthesis and degradation as rapidly growing muscle tissue undergoes degeneration and regeneration,” said AAAP.
“Myopathies such as woody breast, white striping and deep pectoral myopathy emerge at different rates and stages when the extent of muscle damage exceeds the capacity of the repair systems to cope.”
Research is currently underway to reduce and prevent these diseases, while broiler meat processors are undergoing quality controls and removing affected fillets to maintain product quality specifications, according to AAAP.