Original paper

How much chicken is food? Questioning the definition of food by analyzing amino acid composition of modern convenience products. Conflict of interest statement: There is no conflict of interest to disclose

Hermanussen, M.; Gonder, U.; Stegemann, D.; Wesolowski, M.; Ulewicz-Magulska, B.; Wartensleben, H.; Hoffmann, G.F.

Anthropologischer Anzeiger Volume 69 No. 1 (2012), p. 57 - 69

published: Mar 1, 2012

DOI: 10.1127/0003-5548/2011/0153

BibTeX file

ArtNo. ESP140006901003, Price: 29.00 €

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Background: Substantial differences exist between traditionally cooked and chemically designed ready-to-serve products and raise questions about the general principles and requirements of current food law. Methods: Differences in amino acid patterns were analyzed in four examples of chicken preparations (boiled chicken meat, traditionally prepared broth from whole chicken, and two commercial chicken broths), and four examples of vegetable broth (traditionally prepared, two commercial products one of which was claimed a BIO-product, and the classic German bouillon cube). Results: Chicken meat contained 284 mg of free amino acids in 100 ml of the boiled meat homogenate, with physiological peaks of glutamate (14.5 mg/100 ml), glutamine (8.5 mg/100 ml), anserine (88 mg/100 ml) and carnosine (55 mg/100 ml). The patterns significantly differ in industrially designed chicken soups with elevated peaks of glutamate, and missing anserine or carnosine. Similar results were obtained in vegetable broths. In the classic German bouillon cube, glutamate accounts for 96% of all free amino acids. Conclusions: The amino acid composition of modern ready-to-serve chicken soups and vegetable broths are far from being similar to any natural composition. We need to question current legal definitions of food, and consider its impact on eating habits, appetite regulation and obesity.


amino aciddefinition of foodconvenience foodglutamatechickenvegetable broth