Chicken may soon beat out fish as the go-to protein for omega-3s

Published on
August 18, 2016

Major British supermarket chain, Waitrose, has successfully launched what it claimed is the UK’s first range of omega-3 chicken. The supermarket said the product will come to the aid of parents struggling to get their children to eat oily fish.

In fact, one in three British children never eats oily fish, according to research carried out by Waitrose. These children are missing out on the long chain polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids which “are vital for maintaining a healthy heart, brain function and vision,” according to Moira Howie, Waitrose nutrition manager.

“Our parents might have traumatic memories of being given cod liver oil on a spoon, but they would have been consuming a good source of omega-3,” she said. It is doubtful whether they would have realised it at the time, or even now as a survey of 2,000 parents, conducted by Waitrose, showed that they are confused as to what foods contain omega-3 fatty acids.

One in three incorrectly identified carrots as being naturally high in omega-3, while 14 percent didn’t know that salmon is a good source. A fifth of parents were unaware of the importance of omega-3s.

Said Howie: “A lot of the focus has been on getting children to have five [portions of fruit and vegetables] a day and ensuring they also have enough calcium.” However, she added, there had not been the same effort to ensure they ate the recommended amount of omega-3.

“Experts recommend adults and children eat at least 250 mg of omega-3 a day – equivalent to at least two 140 gram portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily.”

Unfortunately for the seafood industry, Howie pointed out that “you can also get your 250 mg from a 200 gram portion of omega-3 enriched chicken.”

Waitrose’s new omega-3 chicken are fed a diet containing algae naturally rich in omega-3. The chicken were developed by Moy Park of Northern Ireland, in conjunction with animal nutrition specialist Devenish Nutrition.

The range is said to have been “a huge hit” since its launch last month.

“This was a first for a British supermarket,” said Charlotte Craddock, Waitrose poultry buyer. “Customers have really embraced the option of a staple poultry product with such fantastic health benefits.”

There is no doubt that children in the UK will far more readily eat chicken to obtain their necessary quota of omega-3 fatty acids, than fish such as mackerel, herring sardines, etc. It will probably be cheaper too, so it will please their parents.

It has long been said that the seafood industry does not do enough to promote the health benefits of eating fish and shellfish. This lack of action has left the door open for other protein food producers.

With omega-3 chicken being a hit for Waitrose it will not take long for the other major supermarkets to follow its lead.

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