Chicken essence products a very costly supplement, says consumer watchdog

Hong Kong’s consumer watchdog said on Monday that consuming chicken essence products as a protein source could cost almost 300 times more than whole foods, and that a balanced diet should provide sufficient nutrients.

The Consumer Council tested 15 common prepackaged samples of chicken essence products from key retail outlets, with the samples ranging from HK$188 to HK$990 per box, equivalent to a cost per serving of HK$11.75 to HK$133, a 10-fold difference.

The results showed that 14 samples met their claims as high-protein foods, yet the watchdog said whole foods have higher protein content but cost much less.

“Although chicken essence products are protein-rich, if consumers are only aiming for protein intake, they could consider consuming whole foods such as chicken, milk or eggs, etc. as they contain an even higher protein content.

“When comparing the price per 20g protein intake, the highest cost among all chicken essence samples would be around HK$1,300, while the lowest cost among whole food was only HK$4.44, a difference of over 290 times.” The council noted.

Meanwhile, the council said one sample claimed to be “salt-free” did not comply with the standard of a “sodium (or salt) free” food - containing no more than 5mg of sodium per 100g solid food or 100ml liquid food, and the relevant information has been submitted to the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) for follow-up.

Another three samples were also found not complying with the nutrition labeling guidelines, with their actual protein content inconsistent with their declared amount.

Separately, the council reminded people to control their intake of such products to avoid excessive protein intake, and that the nine essential amino acids for the human body can be absorbed from different foods including fish, eggs, beef, pork, dairy products, soybean and its products.