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Why do the chickens in the supermarket have no head?

You will be surprised to find out what they are used for.

If you ever bought chicken in a supermarket, have you ever wondered: Where are the heads and feet of the chickens? Chicken feet after cutting can be processed into different dishes, but few people eat the chicken head. So what have they taken these chicken heads for?

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

Have you ever heard of names like Hyaluronic Acid (hyaluronic acid)? If not, this is the main ingredient to lift lips and fill chin. This simple structured amino sugar is also an important filler and moisturizer that is used in many cosmetic and cosmetic surgeries.

Chickens in the supermarket have no head

Hyaluronic acid is also of high medical value, such as being used to protect the eyeballs during surgery, reduce inflammation of the rheumatoid arthritis, 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 the main component of the extracellular matrix, synthesized by the cell membrane, acting as a protector and buffer between cells. It is also involved in inflammation and cell signaling.

A person weighing 70 kg 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 connective tissue, eyeball, umbilical cord and joint fluid. Due to the high viscosity of hyaluronic acid, Meyer points out that it must also have medical value when detected.

Now, injections of hyaluronic acid have become a popular treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. This treatment is called viscosity enhancement, or cockscomb injection. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), after an injection of hyaluronic acid, joint movement becomes easier and pain relief.

After the hyaluronic acid injection, joint movement becomes easier and pain relief

But the most striking effect of hyaluronic acid application is in the beauty industry. Due to its widespread commercial value, the price of hyaluronic acid per kilogram is now as high as $ 100,000.

Meyer himself, when discovered, attempted to extract hyaluronic acid from a cow’s eyeball. However, the extraction of hyaluronic acid from bovine eyeballs is not commercially feasible because the process is complex and the hyaluronic acid will be contaminated by other mucopolysaccharides (group of non-branched polysaccharide molecules). Then another Columbia University scholar, Endre Balazs, discovered a method to extract hyaluronic acid from rooster crests in the 1940s, based on Meyer’s research.

It turns out that the hyaluronic acid content in the crest is the highest of any known animal tissue, reaching 7.5 mg per gram. Out of all the crest types, the rooster crest is the most extractable, which should be favored by manufacturers.

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

Hyaluronic acid was originally used in animals. Since the 1970s, doctors have injected hyaluronic acid into the knees of rheumatoid arthritis horses 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 Balazs patent to produce hyaluronic acid, has launched a Healon product, which is used to protect the cornea during cataract surgery. Healon later became a synonym for hyaluronic acid.

To this day, Sweden is still using Balazs’ original method to extract hyaluronic acid from rooster crests, but the Healon patent has been sold to another major pharmaceutical company, Pfizer. is known for making Viagra and the current COVID-19 vaccine). Another major producer of hyaluronic acid, Genzyme, uses the same crest extraction method.

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

In addition to large pharmaceutical factories, a number of other companies have also jumped into the hyaluronic acid business.

For example, Kewpie, a salad dressing maker from Japan, has a lesser-known business area of ​​extracting hyaluronic acid from chicken viscera and has become one of the most important suppliers of hyaluronic acid. world.

At this point, you may have been wondering how do you get hyaluronic acid out of chicken crests?

Specifically, the chickens, after being slaughtered, are beheaded, the meat is taken to supermarkets and the crest is taken to separate factories.

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

Of course, in addition to the cockroach, there are also methods of extracting hyaluronic acid from the umbilical cord and amniotic fluid.

There is another new way of making hyaluronic acid that the average person cannot predict, which is microbial hyaluronic acid production. Such bacteria are called Streptococcus.

It may sound nauseous, but in fact, this practice is closely related to the streptococcal survival strategy.

As early as 1937, Forrest E, a biochemist at Columbia University, discovered that Streptococcus can produce natural hyaluronic acid without genetic modification. The question is, why does streptococcus want hyaluronic acid?

In fact, it was not until 60 years later that hyaluronic acid was the key weapon used by streptococci to infect epithelial cells. Since the hyaluronic acid produced by the streptococcus is similar to that of the host, i.e. the hyaluronic acid in the human body, does not make the host’s immune system aware, these bacteria use hyaluronic acid as a wrap. grab yourself, then enter epithelial cells to avoid immune system attacks.

Currently, Streptococcus bacteria most commonly used for hyaluronic acid production is Streptococcus zooepidemicus.

Streptococcus Zooepidemicus can infect animals and humans. Horses are common victims of the bacterium Streptococcus Zooepidemicus. However, although the yield of hyaluronic acid produced by bacteria is higher, it has one weakness: the molecular weight of the 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 eventually these small molecules are 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 greater the molecular weight of hyaluronic acid, the longer the decomposition time, the better the duration and the safety of the effect. Along with the higher viscosity of macromolecular hyaluronic acid, large companies like Pfizer decided to use crest to make hyaluronic acid.

Thus, the chicken heads in the supermarket are finally wasted. Think chicken heads, when injected with Hyaluronic Acid.

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