Since yellow trays today are associated with chicken and only chicken, this helps avoid cross contamination and helps with inventory control. But what prompted this color for chickens? Many associate yellow with baby chicks however you want yellow chickens for the best flavor and these yellow trays help reflect the yellow color.
Look for yellow chicken. The more yellow the better. This chicken is usually raised more naturally and is usually a little older so a little bigger and we have found almost always has better flavor. Yes, I usually buy chicken with the skin on. It makes for a better tasting and a moister chicken recipe. You don’t have to eat the skin. Most skinless chicken has a sodium broth injected. If you can find a natural cage free or free range chicken, they are usually the best. Usually more expensive but amazingly good and no hormones or antibiotics. When watching many of the cooking shows, you should notice how many times the chicken has a lot of yellow.
Occasionally, we shop at Mexican markets in our area and their chickens are usually very yellow. Sometimes (not always) the chickens are fed marigold petals to help get that yellow skin. Their shoppers seem to know that yellow chickens are best. Even if the yellow is helped along, these chickens tend to be bigger and more flavorful. You may find yellow chickens to be more common in other ethnic markets, as well. This is also why chicken at the grocery store is usually packed on yellow trays (to reflect yellow on the chicken) so it looks better, more natural.
When possible choose whole chickens. Whole chickens are considered premium or the best chickens. Premium for size and shape (their overall look). No bruises or blemishes or broken bones and usually a very nice size (a little bigger and this increases your chances of a more yellow color, as they have grown more and are a little older). Premium chickens will have a better chicken flavor. The best for roasting. If you want to have chicken pieces, you can ask your butcher to cut-up the chicken for you or learn to cut-up a whole chicken yourself. If possible, cutting-up your own chicken is better than purchasing the already cut-up pieces, because they usually have a variety of different sizes which makes the cooking times more difficult and you will notice more brusing and broken bones.
Note: Today there are more colors being used in meat cases including black which is often used to promote better quality or fresher meats.