Why don't the chickens in the supermarket have heads?

You will be surprised to know what they are used for.

If you’ve ever bought chicken in a supermarket, have you ever wondered: Where are the chicken heads and chicken feet? Chicken feet after being cut off can be processed into different dishes, but few people eat chicken heads. So what did people bring these chicken heads to do?

Why don't the chickens in the supermarket have heads?

Surely not many people will think about the connection between these chicken heads and skin care and beauty products.

Have you ever heard of names like Hyaluronic Acid (hyaluronic acid)? If not, this is the main ingredient for lip augmentation and chin augmentation. This simple structural amino sugar is also an important filler and moisturizer used in many cosmetics and plastic surgery.

Hyaluronic acid also has high medical value, such as being used to protect the eyeball during surgery, reduce inflammation in rheumatic joints, and prevent the formation of scar tissue after surgery.

But, what do the headless chickens in the supermarket have to do with hyaluronic acid?

To understand this, it is necessary to start with the history of hyaluronic acid.

Hyaluronic acid was first discovered by the French chemist Portes in 1880. It was then studied and rediscovered by Karl Meyer of Columbia University in 1934.

In fact, all vertebrates have hyaluronic acid because it is a major component of the extracellular matrix, synthesized by cell membranes, acting as a protector and buffer between cells. It is also involved in inflammation and cell signaling.

A 70 kg person has about 15 grams of hyaluronic acid in the body. Different tissues have different levels of hyaluronic acid. The highest levels of hyaluronic acid are in connective tissue, eyeballs, umbilical cords, and synovial fluid. Because of hyaluronic acid’s high viscosity, Meyer points out that it must also have medical value when discovered.

Currently, hyaluronic acid injections have become a common treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. This treatment is called viscosuction, or cockscomb injection. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), after hyaluronic acid injections, joint movement becomes easier and pain is reduced.

Why don't the chickens in the supermarket have heads?

But the most prominent use of hyaluronic acid is in the beauty industry. Because of its widespread commercial value, the price of hyaluronic acid per kilogram is now as high as 0,000.

Meyer himself, when he found out, tried to extract hyaluronic acid from the eyeballs of cows. However, the extraction of hyaluronic acid from bovine eyeballs is not commercially viable because the process is complex and the hyaluronic acid will be contaminated by other mucopolysaccharides (groups of unbranched polysaccharide molecules). Later, another Columbia University scholar, Endre Balazs, discovered a method of extracting hyaluronic acid from rooster crests in the 1940s, on the basis of Meyer’s research.

Why don't the chickens in the supermarket have heads?

It turns out that the content of hyaluronic acid in chicken crest is the highest among known animal tissues, reaching 7.5 mg per gram. Of all the types of crests, the cock’s crest can be extracted the most, so it is preferred by the manufacturers.

Of course, the source of raw materials from the chicken head is also very rich, so the chicken crest has quickly become the main raw material for the production of hyaluronic acid.

Hyaluronic acid was originally used for animals. Since the 1970s, doctors have injected hyaluronic acid into the knees of racehorses with rheumatoid arthritis to reduce inflammation. Hyaluronic acid is also used in animal eye surgery.

During the 1980s, hyaluronic acid was used in humans. Swedish pharmaceutical company Pharmacia, which received a patent from Balazs for the production of hyaluronic acid, has launched the product Healon, which is used to protect the cornea during cataract surgery. Healon later became a synonym for hyaluronic acid.

So far, Sweden is still using Balazs’ original method to extract hyaluronic acid from the cock’s crest, but Healon’s patent has been sold to another major pharmaceutical company, Pfizer (whose product is well known). manufactures Viagra and the current COVID-19 vaccine). Another major manufacturer of hyaluronic acid, Genzyme, also uses the same method of extraction from the crest.

To make large amounts of hyaluronic acid, Pfizer bred roosters with super-large crests. “The crests of Pfizer’s Belair roosters used to be so big they couldn’t stand on their heads,” said Rolf Bergman, a professor of chemistry at Uppsala University in Sweden, who was involved in extracting hyaluronic acid from the crest.

In addition to the major pharmaceutical factories, several other companies have also jumped into the hyaluronic acid business.

For example, Kewpie, a salad dressing manufacturer from Japan, has a little known business of extracting hyaluronic acid from chicken organs and has become one of the most important hyaluronic acid suppliers in the world. world.

Why don't the chickens in the supermarket have heads? Hyaluronic acid is white in color.

At this point, you may have wondered how to make hyaluronic acid from chicken crest?

Specifically, chickens after being slaughtered are decapitated, meat is taken to supermarkets and crests are taken to separate factories.

Then, the crest is sliced, washed in a large tank, and then a solvent such as acetone is added to dissolve the fat to obtain fat-free slices of the crest. They are then continuously purified with sodium acetate and ethanol, the last thing remaining is hyaluronic acid. After separation and sterilization, hyaluronic acid (salt form) is formed as a dry powder.

Of course, in addition to the cock’s crest, there are methods of extracting hyaluronic acid from the umbilical cord and amniotic fluid.

There is another new method to make hyaluronic acid that the average person can’t guess, that is to make hyaluronic acid by germs. Such bacteria are called Streptococcus.

Why don't the chickens in the supermarket have heads? Streptococcus pneumoniae, the bacteria that causes pneumonia in humans.

It sounds nauseating, but in fact, this practice is closely related to the survival strategy of streptococci.

As early as 1937, Forrest E, a biochemist at Columbia University discovered that Streptococcus could produce hyaluronic acid naturally without genetic modification. The question is, why would strep want hyaluronic acid?

In fact, it was not until 60 years later that people understood that hyaluronic acid was an important weapon used by streptococci to infect epithelial cells. Since the hyaluronic acid produced by the streptococcus is identical to that of the host, that is, the hyaluronic acid in the human body, will not be recognized by the host’s immune system, these bacteria use hyaluronic acid to form a wrap. self, then burrow into epithelial cells to avoid the immune system attack.

Currently, the Streptococcus bacteria most commonly used to produce hyaluronic acid is Streptococcus zooepidemicus.

Why don't the chickens in the supermarket have heads? Horses are a common victim of the bacterium Streptococcus zooepidemicus .

Streptococcus zooepidemicus can infect animals and humans. Horses are a common victim of the bacterium Streptococcus zooepidemicus. However, although the production of hyaluronic acid produced by bacteria is higher, it has a weakness that the molecular weight of hyaluronic acid produced by bacteria is quite small.

Meanwhile, the human body contains enzymes that break down hyaluronic acid. These enzymes break down the large molecules of hyaluronic acid into small hyaluronic acid molecules, and these small molecules are eventually broken down and absorbed. Too many small hyaluronic acid molecules can cause an inflammatory response, making it difficult for the wound to heal.

Therefore, the larger the molecular weight of hyaluronic acid, the longer the breakdown time, and the better the duration and safety of the effect. Coupled with the higher viscosity of macromolecule hyaluronic acid, big companies like Pfizer decided to use crest to make hyaluronic acid.

Thus, the chicken heads in the supermarket were not wasted in the end. Think of chicken heads, when injected with Hyaluronic Acid.