So Your Costco Rotisserie Chicken Is Green Inside — Now What?

The r/Costco subreddit is one of Reddit’s most active, with over 620,000 subscribers who post about their favorite products, most exciting finds, and can’t-miss deals at the warehouse chain — and there’s a lot of love for the food court hot dogs too. 

Some of last week’s most popular posts included one from a shopper who bought two Thomasville sectionals and turned them into one mega-couch, another about finding two bottles of cologne for half the price as other retailers, and one from a concerned customer who saw something completely unexpected when they served their rotisserie chicken. 

“Is this normal,” a Reddit user named u/flytiger18 asked. “We cut into our chicken for dinner and it’s green. I have no idea what it could be.” 

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The accompanying photo of the chicken showed exactly what the Redditor described: Part of the chicken breast had a distinct (and unappetizing) green hue. Although several of the comments were variations on “NO THANK YOU” — and there were several Dr. Seuss “green eggs and ham”  jokes — several Redditors suggested that the chicken in question could’ve had a condition called green muscle disease. 

Green muscle disease — which is also called ischemic myopathy, deep pectoral myopathy, or green breast — is a condition that develops in larger chickens or turkeys when their pectoral muscles are overdeveloped, becoming too large for the blood supply to reach that region. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), when birds use those muscles to repeatedly flap their wings, the exertion causes the muscles to swell, further restricting the blood supply to that area. Without adequate circulation, those muscles die, turning green in the process. 

The Mississippi State University Extension Service explains that reports of the condition have increased as broiler chickens grow to “a heavy body weight.” It says that birds that flap their wings excessively in the days before they are processed (to put it euphemistically)  are more likely to demonstrate the characteristics of deep pectoral myopathy. “However, green [breast] tenders have no appeal to the consuming public and are, therefore, removed from the food supply when the birds are processed,” the University wrote. 

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If a chicken with green muscle disease does make it to supermarket shelves — or to Costco’s rotisserie chicken section — the USDA emphasizes that it does not present any food safety hazard to customers. That doesn’t mean that you want to eat that section of the bird, but if you ingested this particular kind of green chicken, you don’t need to frantically consult Dr. Google. 

If you have purchased a chicken with green muscle disease, whether from Costco or another retailer, the best plan of action may be to return it to the point of purchase. “I would maybe take a photo with the receipt and try to ask for a refund,” one Redditor suggested, which is excellent advice. 

Just don’t forget to delete that picture, because although green chicken may not be harmful, it’s definitely not photogenic.

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