Omega 3 chicken

Great taste & high welfare

Reared on family farms in Northern Ireland, the meat comes from chickens fed on a diet containing algae – the family of aquatic plants that includes kelp and seaweed – that is naturally rich in omega 3. The algae is farmed to avoid depleting stocks for fish in the wild, and the chickens look
and taste the same as birds reared on a conventional diet.

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Why we need more omega 3

Omega 3s are polyunsaturated fatty acids which, as a key part of a balanced diet, help to maintain normal heart, brain and vision function. Research undertaken in 1999 across 36 countries found that those who consume high levels of omega 3 considerably lowered their risk of heart disease and stroke.

Experts recommend that we eat at least 250mg of omega 3 a day, which can be achieved by consuming two 140g portions of fish per week, one of which should be oily. However, the Food Standards Agency recently revealed oily fish consumption in the UK is low, at just 56g a week for adults and 14g a week for children. Dr Joanne Lunn, Waitrose nutritionist, says: ‘Surveys show many people don’t eat enough oily fish, so it can be very hard to consume enough omega 3. Although short-chain omega 3 can be gained from some vegetables, nuts and seeds, the human body needs to convert it into long-chain omega 3 in order to get the health benefit and, unfortunately, it is not very e cient at this conversion process,’ Lunn explains. ‘It is much better to eat foods that are a source of the long-chain omega 3s. This new range of chicken will make a really useful contribution to our customers’ daily diet. And it is easy to get the recommended daily 250mg of omega 3 from a portion of the chicken. Around 200g of a mix of dark and white chicken meat, perhaps as part of a roast dinner, would be enough, so people can increase their daily intake of omega 3 without having to make any change to their dietary pattern.’

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An innovative project

The unique approach has been developed by Waitrose in partnership with its chicken supplier Moy Park and feed specialist Devenish Nutrition. The decade-long project follows medical concerns that people are not eating enough omega 3, particularly children, who often do not like oily fish – the usual source of omega 3. Its purpose was to come up with a more popular protein containing the fatty acids.

Initial trials show that people eating the chicken for just 5 weeks have increased levels of omega 3. A larger and longer study is under way to understand the effects more deeply.

Heather Jenkins, Waitrose’s agricultural director, said: ‘Our research is showing that this nutritional breakthrough has the potential to have a significant impact on health. ‘What’s exciting is that it’s improving the nutritional content of something which customers already consume frequently as part of their diets.’

The innovation has been received positively by academic Patrick Wall, professor of public health at University College Dublin, who added: ‘This is actually going to revolutionise nutrition. The idea that you can make an everyday product healthier suggests you could have a huge impact on health.’ Despite leading authorities recommending regular consumption of foods containing omega 3, research suggests that only 23% of the UK’s adult population consumes the recommended intake.

The omega 3 birds are reared to Waitrose’s bespoke high welfare standards, which include plenty of natural light and more space than the industry standard, allowing the birds to display their natural behaviour.

The flavour and texture of the meat is not affected by the changes to the chickens’ diet.


Omega 3 chicken is a source of omega 3. Omega 3 fatty acids contribute to the normal function of the heart & maintenance of normal brain function & vision. Beneficial effect is obtained from a daily intake of 250mg of omega 3 fatty acids as part of a healthy balanced diet & lifestyle. Selected stores. Subject to availability. Serving suggestion.