Fake Picture Of Mechanically Separated Chicken


A tumblr blog called Early Onset Of Night posted a picture of that they claim is mechanically separated chicken. The substance looks like a extruded pink ice cream.

Basically, the entire chicken is smashed and pressed through a sieve—bones, eyes, guts, and all. it comes out looking like this.

I’m by no means an expert on mechanically separated chicken but I think some critical thinking would be helpful. According to Wikipedia, mechanically separated meat machines are designed to separate the bone from the meat, not grind everything together into a paste. The picture and text has been reposted all over the internet as if it was true and many sites like Gizmodo are even claiming this is what Chicken Nuggets from McDonalds are made of (Lack of story verification is why I don’t read Gizmodo anymore and what does this have to do with gizmos). I’ve eaten Chicken McNuggets and they don’t look anything like this. I don’t believe that the FDA would allow a product on the market made of a whole chicken ground up into unrecognizable pulp with bacteria intact. I don’t know what this is a picture of but I’m pretty sure it’s not mechanically separated chicken.

Gizmodo commenter Jackdilla discribes MSC:

I sell over 100,000lbs of this monthly to companies all over the country. It’s not gonna kill you but let me clear up some confusion.

You would never find yourself eating a chicken nugget or a patty made from MSC. They are mostly made for lost cost feeding programs such as prisons.

The people below saying that its made from ground up chickens are incorrect. After the chicken is deboned and you have removed the breasts, drums, wings and so on you are left with the chicken carcass, which is just a bunch of bone with tiny pieces of meat attached. That is thrown into a special machine that grinds it up and separates the meat from the bone fragments. There are no eyes, skin, organs, claws, beaks or anything of that nature.

AND Mcdonalds uses all white breast meat in their chicken nuggets. So does every other fast food restaurant chain.

MSC is mostly used in hot dogs. Unless it says All beef or all pork then its made with chicken MSC. If it says meat then it can be a mixture of beef/pork/MSC.

It’s just a way for manufacturers to cut down on waste and provide a cheaper product for us.

A YouTube video shows a automatic poultry deboner in action.


Snopes has an article with this same picture and text. They provide additional information about MSC and how the information that is with the picture is incorrect. They don’t have any information about where the picture is from.

I probably should have named this entry “This Is Not A Picture Of Mechanically Separated Chicken” because it’s clearly a real picture of something, I just don’t think it was ever an animal product. It looks to me to be some sort of foam rubber product possibly used for insulation.


8 Replies to “Fake Picture Of Mechanically Separated Chicken”

  1. Greg,

    Thanks for taking the time. I too was skeptical. You did the legwork.

    It’s a good thing, too. I was going to swear off of mechanical food product all together…. now I can go back to being fat and enjoying delicious mechanized food product, knowing it’s still just mostly meat 🙂

    -I’m a super.com

  2. Thank You so much for clearing this up. From the moment I saw this picture I knew it was fake. It’s kind of obvious when you think about it, because “Mcdonald’s” buys most of its chicken from “Tyson”, which is a legit food production company who I’m pretty sure wouldn’t just sieve entire chickens.

  3. you say.. the fda wouldnt allow a product like that (im am NO expert so if im wrong.. let me know) but isnt that the same type of things that hot dogs are made of? i have been told that hot dogs are made up of parts that otherwise wouldnt be sold and edible. and you said that the FDA wouldnt let something be eaten that was ground to a paste… well.. do you know what gelatin is made out of? extracted from the boiled bones, connective tissues, organs and some intestines of animals such as domesticated cattle, pigs, and horses. i pray to God that that picture is fake.. cause that is the grossest thing ive ever seen!!!!

    1. The description says this this includes all parts of the bird including the bacteria. The FDA would most probably not allow a processing of an animal that includes bacteria. I don’t think they would do anything about the processing of the rest of the animal as food unless there was something toxic about certain parts.

      There was probably a time before mass manufacturing of animal parts to eat that people probably ate the whole bird. There are some hot dogs made from mechanically separated chicken (I personally get all beef hot dogs), but I don’t think the picture of the pink goo is MSC. I don’t have a problem eating mechanically separated meat except that it’s probably not the highest quality meat.

      The picture shows the substance being put into cardboard boxes. I think that the FDA would require that all processing equipment be made of stainless steel. I’ve never seen meat in the store in cardboard.

      Finally gelatin is collagen and comes from boiling bones and connective tissues of mammals. It does not include the organs.

      1. Correct! Gelatin is a boiled extraction process. There is also a marrow extraction process.
        I am not surprised at the online uproar over the pink stuff in boxes. I agree that it cannot be a food product being stored in cardboard like that, at least not for consumption in the USA. However, I also know that showing how our food is processed always calls out the cries of the squeamish. Our disconnectedness with the rest of nature over the last 200 years has a lot to do with this.

  4. The product in the photo is being put directly into an unlined cardboard box, so it is clearly not a food product. Also, the hand with the scoop is a clue as to the origin of the product (which is clearly not MSC). It looks to me like the darkish pink color inside the scoop was shopped; if it was the entire photo comes into question.
    I hope someone figures out what the picture actually is taken of.

  5. Thanks for this. I posted skeptical comments on a few sites that featured this pic. I think the first hint is that none of the sites that show this picture explain a) who took it and b) where. That’s kind of essential to establishing the picture’s pedigree and accuracy.

    Another point: a few people seem to think that even a fake picture is OK since it raises awareness somehow. But I think there’s enough to criticize about the meat industry without having to resort to fakery!

    Chris MacDonald
    Food Ethics Blog

  6. Hi, I’m a consumer safety inspector with the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, which is the government agency that regulates this product, not the FDA. Mechanically separated species are defined by FSIS as “any finely comminuted (ground) product resulting from the mechanical separation and removal of most of the bone from attached skeletal muscle of livestock carcasses and parts of carcasses.”

    These carcasses came from USDA inspected animals, have had all their organs removed, and are as safe to eat as the meat from the bird. It is illegal to sell mechanically separated beef in the US due to the risk of mad cow disease. There are restrictions on the amounts of bone, fat and calcium in mechanically separated species, and it must contain at least 14% protein. It is primarily used in hot dogs and bologna type products. There are restrictions on the amount of mechanically separated species you can put in a meat product (for example no more than 20% mechanically separated pork in hot dogs). It can not be called “meat” on an ingredients label, so any product that has it will say “mechanically separated chicken, pork or turkey” on the label. Chicken nuggets and other chicken products at fast food restaurants are made from whole chicken meat.

    The picture is not of mechanically separated chicken. The texture isn’t right, and I would hope the USDA inspector wouldnt allow them to place the boxes of product open on the floor, as you can see in the background. Also, the box would definitely be lined in plastic.

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