MALAYSIA - Chicken is widely eaten by many and claims that the birds are being coloured yellow using a dye is worrying.
Some traders claim that consumers are being duped by chicken sellers into believing that the plucked yellow chickens are the kampung variety when they are actually farm-bred.
However, the more serious issue was the Aniline dye being used in the colouring process.
Aniline dye is normally used to colour leather and woodworks.
Those who regularly buy chicken would have noticed that some plucked chickens are more yellow in colour than others.
The situation may have raised a few eyebrows but never questioned, that is until StarMetro was alerted recently that some unscrupulous chicken sellers were adding yellow colouring to the chickens.
To see the situation first-hand, Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) Health and Environment Department director Dr Chitra Devi N. Vadivellu visited the SS2 market recently.
Chicken seller William.T called StarMetro to complain that some irresponsible chicken sellers were adding colouring to the plucked farm-bred chickens.
He said the chickens, originally pale pink in colour. were dipped into a mixture of yellow dye and water.
"The yellow dye may not be safe for consumption and could pose a danger to our health," he said, adding that he suspected Aniline dye was being used.
"This dye is used to colour leather and woodworks. The chickens are made to look yellow as many believe the yellow variety tastes better and better for health," he said.
"Consumers are being cheated into believing they are buying corn-fed chickens," he said.
He said in the past chickens were fed more corn but not any more.
The chicken feed now consists of only 30 per cent corn, and is mixed with grains and soy.
"That is why the chickens skin is no longer yellow in colour," he said.
Kampung versus farm chicken
Another problem consumers face is that they are duped into believing that the average sized farm chickens, coloured yellow, are the kampung chicken variety.
The lean kampung chicken is naturally light yellow in colour.
"He said the colouring process sometimes takes place at the chicken slaughter house.
"The authorities must take some chicken samples to verify this matter,
"They must also conduct checks at the slaughter house and wet markets regularly.
"Farm-bred chicken is priced at RM8.50 (S$3.30) per kg while plucked kampung chicken is RM12.50 per kg.
To see the situation for itself, StarMetro also visited several chicken sellers in SS2, Section 17 and Taman Megah market where they claim the average- sized 'yellow chicken' is the kampung variety
Azlina Abdullah, who was at the market, said she was sceptical about the yellow chickens.
"Some of the chickens are strangely more yellow in the city markets. "The kampung chickens sold here are also very big.
"I grew up in the village and I know for sure that kampung chicken are smaller and their skin a light yellow," she said.
What the authorities say
Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association (Fomca) secretary-general Datuk Paul Selva Raj said the Health Ministry must investigate the claims as well as monitor the situation.
If true, it is a very serious matter as people's health are being endangered.
"Food additives used must be given the nod by the ministry before being used," he said.
Dr Chitra Devi said during the visit to the market, the traders told her that some of the farm-bred chickens were dipped in higher temperature boiling water during the de-feathering process, as such the meat is slightly cooked and becomes light yellow in colour.
"We will take samples for lab tests and get to the bottom of this matter soon," she said.
When contacted, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said the ministry will investigate the claims.