Beware This Hidden Ingredient in Rotisserie Chicken

Rotisserie chickens
Photo by calimedia / Shutterstock.com

Rotisserie chicken is a wonder of modern life. For relatively little money, you can pick up a delicious, ready-to-eat bird at the local grocery store. And it’s so versatile that we cited it in “10 Foods That Should Always Be in Your Pantry or Fridge.”

But as it turns out, there is something foul lurking in those tasty fowl: sodium — and lots of it.

Consumer Reports recently tested rotisserie chickens from several grocery chains as well as Boston Market and found that many are loaded with ingredients that are not great for your health.

A solution generally is injected into these rotisserie-cooked birds to keep them moist and tasty, and it can include:

  • Large amounts of sodium
  • Sugar
  • Processed ingredients such as natural flavors, gums and carrageenan

Amy Keating, a registered dietitian at Consumer Reports, says:

“Natural flavors aren’t necessarily as natural as you might think, and you should generally try to avoid processed ingredients as much as possible. And if you’re thinking chicken isn’t good without salt, just know that some rotisserie chickens have far more than you’d ever add yourself.”

Some grocery chains add more sodium to their rotisserie chickens than others. The worst offenders include:

  • Sam’s Club (Member’s Mark Seasoned Rotisserie Chicken), with 550 milligrams of sodium per 3-ounce serving
  • Costco (Kirkland), with 460 milligrams of sodium

Somewhat better choices — with sodium content ranging from 170 milligrams to 368 milligrams — include:

  • BJ’s Wholesale Club (Perdue rotisserie chicken)
  • Boston Market
  • Publix (Deli Original)
  • Safeway (Signature Cafe Traditional)
  • Stop & Shop (Nature’s Promise and “honey”)
  • Walmart (traditional)
  • Wegmans (nonorganic plain)

But your best bet — according to CR — is probably Kroger:

“Kroger (Simple Truth) rotisserie chickens and organic chickens from Wegmans have much lower levels of sodium, at 40 mg and 95 mg, respectively, proving that not all injected birds are bad news. And Kroger’s ingredients are only chicken, water, and sea salt.”

Another good bet is Whole Foods’ original plain chicken, with 70 milligrams of sodium per 3-ounce serving.

CR also notes that while Whole Foods does not inject its chickens, two of its birds still are on the high end in terms of sodium count: the nonorganic plain chicken (120 milligrams of sodium per 3 ounces) and the nonorganic “classic” chicken (450 milligrams per 3 ounces).

However, CR notes that Whole Foods sprinkles seasonings on top of the chicken’s skin. That means that unlike with injected birds, if you don’t eat the skin, you will not get the sodium.

Need more reason to go easy on foods like rotisserie chicken? Check out “Should You Stop Eating Any Processed Meats?

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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