A method was developed for the detection of irradiation of chicken and chicken meat products. The method consists of the extraction of fat from chicken skin or a chicken meat product, separation of hydrocarbons with an alumina column and gas chromatography (GC) and GC‐mass spectrometry analyses of the hydrocarbons 16:2, 16:3, 17:1 and 17:2 formed from oleic, linoleic and stearic acids during irradiation. These hydrocarbons were only detected in irradiated samples at doses of 5 and 10 kGy. The mean concentrations of the hydrocarbons were linearly related to the dose levels of irradiation in the case of chicken fat. The concentrations of two of the hydrocarbons (16:2 and 17:1) gave the best correlation with dose. When a dose of 10 kGy was used, the concentrations of major degradation products were 1.5‐5.0 mg/kg fat. The same relationship was not found in the case of chicken meat products because the amounts of hydrocarbons detected after irradiation with the same doses were similar. On the basis of this study it was clearly demonstrated that it is possible to judge analytically whether or not a chicken sample or a chicken meat product has been irradiated at doses of 5 or 10 kGy. It should also be possible to recognise samples irradiated with doses below 5 kGy.