|The ingredients label on Whole Foods' antibiotic-free Simple Rotisserie Chicken is short and sweet, compared to the many ingredients and additives -- listed and unlisted -- on rotisserie chickens from Costco Wholesale, ShopRite and other stores.|
By VICTOR E. SASSON
Costco Wholesale's rotisserie chickens probably are the biggest and cheapest around.
But if you are worried about consuming harmful animal antibiotics, you can do a lot better at Whole Foods Market, Kings, Fairway Market and even ShopRite.
At the Costco in Hackensack today, dozens of highly seasoned chickens were rotating on spits in two big rotisserie cases, and an employee was putting them in containers with the Kirkland Signature label.
Ingredients include sodium phosphate, modified food starch, potato dextrin, carrageenan, sugar and dextrose.
There is no indication Costco chickens are vegetarian fed or raised without antibiotics or even who supplies them to the warehouse chain.
An employee said the chickens come from Pilgrim's Pride, which is based in North Carolina.
The Web site, which refers to the company as Pilgrim's, says its chickens are fed "only natural ingredients," including corn, soybean meal and other grains.
The company uses "3,900 family farmers in the U.S. and Mexico to grow chickens for our operations."
But nowhere on the Web site does Pilgrim's say it bans the use of antibiotics to raise its chickens.
|At Kings Super Market in Hillsdale, large, antibiotic-free rotisserie chickens were $4.39 a pound. The label lists the time they were put under the lights, above, which is also the practice at Whole Foods Market in Paramus.|
What's in this chicken?
When my teenage son finished eating antibiotic-free rotisserie chicken from Kings in Hillsdale, he asked me where I had bought it.
I knew why he liked it:
The ingredients label lists water, evaporated cane juice, sea salt, natural ingredients and native corn starch.
|At ShopRite in Paramus, low-quality Perdue and antibiotic-free Readington Farms rotisserie chickens are sold side by side.|
|Perdue rotisserie chickens are sold for $4.99 (35 ounces) and $6.99 (48 ounces). Antibiotic-free, vegetarian-fed Readington Farms chickens were $5.99 (35 ounces), but occasionally go on sale for $4.99.|
|An unseasoned kosher rotisserie chicken at ShopRite in Paramus was $3.99 a pound.|
At ShopRite, a lot of choice
Costco offers one rotisserie chicken, take it or leave it, but at ShopRite in Paramus, shoppers have a choice of three birds -- kosher, mystery Perdue and antibiotic-free Readington Farms.
Around lunchtime today, business was brisk at the store's kitchen counter, where the rotisserie chickens were displayed along with sandwiches and other prepared food.
Tables and chairs are provided for those who want to eat lunch in the store.
The kosher rotisserie chickens were displayed on an island in another section.
Fairway and Murray's Chickens
Years ago, I bought Murray's antibiotic-free rotisserie chickens at the Harlem branch of Fairway Market, which later opened a store in Paramus.
The store also sold conventional rotisserie chickens.
I shop for food a lot closer to home now and don't go to the Paramus Fairway much anymore, so I don't know how much they are.
The New York-style hype is a big turnoff.
Murray's Web site says the drug-free chickens are raised in Pennsylvania, and are certified non-GMO.
|At Costco's Hackensack store, the rotisserie chickens are big and cheap, but the ingredients label may stop you from actually buying one, below.|
Costco rotisserie chicken makes great dog food