Question: Do chickens grow so fast because they are injected with growth hormones? [read >]
No, definitely not!
No chickens produced by any of Astral's poultry operations are injected, fed or in any way whatsoever subjected to hormones. No hormones are registered for use in chickens in South Africa. In order to obtain the desired growth and body weight targets, a perfect combination of superior genetics, scientific nutrition and best farming practices are ethically applied. Be assured, eating our chicken products is perfectly safe for you at all times.
Question: Are all chickens injected with water before being sold? [read >]
No, not entirely true!
Our fresh chicken, never frozen, is 100% natural. In fact, excess moisture is removed from fresh chicken through an air chilling process before being packed. However, we do flavour-enhance IQF (Individually Quick Frozen) portions with water based brine or solution, to improve meat tenderness and succulence by means of a scientifically applied injection method.
This is a world-wide practice for enhancing the tenderness and taste of meat, which could otherwise be very dry and stringy if unseasoned. The Brine or Solution contains water and other ingredients that help enhance the natural flavour and tenderness of the meat, thus making it more palatable. This practice is used for most frozen meat products. Astral Foods offers consumers products with or without meat brine-solution for their own convenience.
Question: Are chickens restricted from movement by being kept in small wire cages? [read >]
Not true at all!
In Astral, our chickens are raised on the floor in large poultry sheds designed to keep them as comfortable as possible. The disinfected floors are covered with wood shavings, sunflower husks or wheat straw which allows them to scratch dust-bath and move around freely. Our chickens also have unrestricted access to clean water and high quality feed at all times. These birds also have sufficient access to natural and artificial light.
Question: Are chickens reared on a diet of maize only? [read >]
No, only approximately half of the ration is maize!
Maize, the main energy source in a chicken's diet, comprises approximately 50% of the feed diet. In addition, high quality protein ingredients, together with essential vitamins and minerals, are used to formulate a perfect balanced diet and are fed to our chickens as a crumble or pellet to improve feed efficiency. Our chickens are fed a high quality, well balanced diet, from Meadow Feed, the largest feed company in Africa with 70 years of experience in supplying South African livestock industries.
Producing safe feed is vital to ensure safe food (ranging from chicken, eggs, milk and red meat) of all South Africans.
Our Poultry diets are scientifically developed and formulated with sophisticated software to obtain optimally balanced diets which ideally suit the requirements of our poultry stock. Only high quality ingredients such as maize, wheat, soya oilcake, full fat soy, sunflower oilcake, maize gluten, vegetable oils, wheat bran, vitamins and minerals are implemented to formulate our poultry diets.
Very strict quality control systems are used to manage the quality of the feed ingredients as well as during the feed manufacturing process, to ensure consistent feed quality and total traceability.
Question: Do antibiotics administered to chickens remain in the meat and are they dangerous to our health? [read >]
No, not entirely true!
Antibiotics are administered to our chickens when necessary through water and feed and under the strict guidance of a registered veterinary practitioner. It is standard practice to withdraw antibiotics from feed according to the manufacturers' guidelines. This is done at least five days prior to slaughter to ensure that no residues remain in the meat. Astral additionally tests samples of livers and muscles of slaughtered chickens through an independent laboratory in order to ensure compliance with South African law on permissible maximum residue levels (MRL).
Question: How does Astral Foods farm chickens? [read >]
All Astral chickens are farmed in large chicken houses where chickens are able to roam around freely, drink and feed at free will. Temperature, ventilation, light and floor conditions in these houses are controlled and managed appropriately to give chickens the ideal climate in order to ensure that they remain healthy, free of stress, pain and suffering.
Question: Is frozen chicken better than fresh chicken? [read >]
There is no difference in quality between frozen or fresh chicken. Frozen chicken, however, does have the advantage of keeping the product 'fresher for longer'. This enables it to have a significantly longer shelf life. Where the product needs no further preparation, as with chicken portions, it can also be cooked straight from frozen.
Question: Is Astral Foods chicken Grade A quality? [read >]
Astral Foods chicken displays the Grade A symbol on our Goldi & Festive whole chickens as required by law. Legislation stipulates that grading cannot be applied to a cup-up product. You may not claim Grade A on portions by law.
Question: How do I know all the package claims on your label are truthful? [read >]
Astral Foods follows all labeling regulations as mandated by the Foodstuff, Cosmetic and Disinfected Act's labeling regulation – R146. This Regulation ensures the truthfulness and accuracy of labeling and advertising of foods. Every Astral Foods product label and packaging is reviewed to ensure it complies and that all product claims are accurate and truthful.
Question: Are your chickens able to eat and drink whenever they want? [read >]
Yes. Our chickens are allowed to eat and drink at will. Portable municipal or borehole water is available at all times, and feed is made available at all times throughout the day.
Question: Does your company have an animal welfare policy? What is it? [read >]
Yes, we follow strict humane animal welfare practices as outlined by the South African Poultry Association (SAPA). These guidelines which ensure that from start to finish, our chickens are handled with utmost care by experienced and committed stockmen as well as professionals in the field of animal science, nutrition and veterinary science. We communicate our animal care philosophy to all new and existing employees. A well-cared after chicken grows well due to its good health. This translates to meat and meat products that are tasty and safe for human consumption.
Question: How do I know my chicken is properly cooked? [read >]
There are some visual cues to help you know when your chicken is thoroughly cooked. These include:
• Juices should run clear and there should be no sign of pink in the meat.
• A fork should insert easily into the meat.
However to be sure, experts advise to always use a meat thermometer. USDA Food Safety & Inspection Service recommends cooking chicken, regardless of cut, to an internal temperature of at least 80°C. Though you may want your chicken even more well done.
Take the temperature in the thickest section of the thigh or breast. Be sure the temperature probe doesn't touch the bone or the cooking surface.
Question: What can I do to ensure safety while cooking and handling fresh chicken? [read >]
Most food safety issues related to chicken and other fresh meat arise from bacteria (such as Salmonella) common in the digestive tracts of farm animals and the environment. These bacteria are destroyed by heat. Therefore, proper cooking of poultry eliminates the risk of these potentially harmful bacteria.
Question: How long can I keep poultry in the refrigerator? [read >]
Fresh, uncooked poultry purchased prior to the sell-by date is best kept in a home refrigerator for no more than one day. If you wish to freeze it at home, it is best to do so on day of purchase.
Question: How do I defrost poultry properly? [read >]
Defrost chicken in the refrigerator, not on the counter, allowing 5 hours per 500 grams. For faster thawing, you can immerse wrapped poultry in cold water changing the water every half hour, or use the microwave. When using the microwave, follow the manufacturer's recommendation and then cook immediately. Do not re-freeze the product after thawing.