If Your Costco Rotisserie Chicken Is Green Like This Shopper's, Don't Panic

A Costco rotisserie chicken in plastic packaging
A Costco rotisserie chicken in plastic packaging - Tim Boyle/Getty Images

Normally, a fresh Costco rotisserie chicken is one of the best deals in food -- but saving some green on your meal doesn't mean you should be seeing green in it. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened to a Costco shopper who posted about their experience on Reddit. A few days ago, Reddit user flytiger18 took to the forums to post a photo of a bird they had just purchased from the bulk retailer.

When they sliced into it, they were understandably baffled to find some very unappetizing-looking chunks of green meat in the middle, asking "Is this normal? We cut into our chicken for dinner and it's green. I have no idea what it could be." Well, it may not be normal, but green meat in chickens is actually not unheard of, either -- nor is it specific to Costco in any way. It comes from a condition called ischemic myopathy, or Oregon disease, which is colloquially called "green breast" or "green muscle disease." And while gross, it's technically okay to eat.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), ischemic myopathy happens when some poultry birds like chickens and turkeys get too large and their muscles don't get enough blood. Sometimes, this causes the muscle tissue to die and take on a green, fibrous appearance, much like the Reddit user described. However, it is a purely cosmetic problem and the USDA says "None of the stages of ischemic myopathy present a food safety hazard to the consumers."

Read more: 12 Different Ways To Cook Chicken

Green Meat In Chickens Is A Purely Visual Blemish

Closeup of cooked chicken with green meat
Closeup of cooked chicken with green meat - flytiger18/Reddit

Green muscle disease is not a new phenomenon. In fact, another Costco customer on Reddit posted about the same problem five years ago. However, a 2014 report by Mississippi State University does show that it's becoming more common as commercially raised chickens increase in size to obtain a higher yield of breast meat. The cutoff of blood to the breast meat in chickens and turkeys is tied to muscle weakness of birds in captivity who don't fly or get much exercise.

When those weak breast muscles are then suddenly used, such as when a chicken is startled by a noise and begins flapping its wings excessively, it can tear or damage the muscle. Because of the lack of blood, the muscle cannot heal properly, and the decomposition of the tissues causes a green color. The poultry muscle will normally regrow eventually and return to a normal color, but because there are no outward signs of ischemic myopathy and it doesn't make the chickens sick, some birds may be slaughtered while their meat is green.

Chickens that are butchered would have the green meat removed, but whole chickens -- like the ones that a grocery store might make into a rotisserie chicken -- would obviously bypass that step. While there is no real health risk associated with green chicken breast meat, we all know that you eat with your eyes, so this falls into the category of a real meal ruiner anyway.

Read the original article on Tasting Table