MARLBOROUGH, England – Researchers continue to ponder the cause of woody breast — a muscle abnormality that is increasingly being found in chicken breast meat. The condition, while not dangerous from a food safety standpoint, hardens some of the breast tissue and leaves the meat unpalatable. While researchers are studying all possibilities to discover a cause and solution to the issue, the role of nutrition has been the focus of some research including some that will be shared at the upcoming International Phytate Summit (IPS3) to be held in Miami, Nov. 7-10. The summit will be hosted by the Univ. of Arkansas, the Univ. of Illinois and AB Vista.

“We are presented with a situation where consumer complaints have increased based on the texture of the meat —and that results in financial impacts across the chain, back as far as the producer,” said Dr. Tara York, AB Vista technical manager for the US and Canada. “In a market where demand for white breast meat is high, as it is in the US, being able to maintain the increase in growth rate and breast meat yield without negatively impacting muscle tissue development is important. Research is turning to nutrition to see what role it can play in helping reduce woody breast, whilst maintaining efficient and healthy growth — for the bird and the business.”

According to York, the most recent unpublished studies suggest that dietary manipulations could help reduce the severity of woody breast, “through improving the bird’s ability to handle environmental and metabolic stress.”

The research will be presented to animal nutrition experts in attendance at the IPS3 in November.

“As an industry the more we expect from the broiler, the more we need to invest to ensure we accomplish our goal in an effective manner,” York said.

To find out more about IPS3, which is a closed academic event, please visit:

To read more about the issue of woody breast, please read, “Mysterious myopathy” in the September issue of MEAT+POULTRY.