McNugget News: Are You Gonna Eat That?

Tastes like chicken!

Making the rounds online and on the Face -- again -- is "poultry paste," mass-produced chicken that even has a USDA-official name: mechanically separated poultry. If you're a meat eater and you've ingested grocery-store hot dogs, frozen chicken patties -- or if you had McNuggets prior to 2003 -- you've likely eaten this stuff.

But no, it's not ground-up eyeballs, nor is it soaked in ammonia, confirms Snopes

and others.  Says the U.S. Department of Agriculture: "Mechanically

separated poultry is a paste like and batter like poultry product that's

produced by forcing bones, with attached edible tissue, through a sieve

or similar device under high pressure to separate bone from the edible

tissue." The process has been employed since 1960, has been deemed "safe and could

be used without restriction," though it must be labeled as such. I'm skeptical.

In what's called "Advanced Meat Recovery," only chicken and pork is made to look like strawberry soft serve. In 2004, the USDA ruled that beef can't be processed in this manner because of mad cow disease.

Francis Lam has the lowdown on mechanically separated poultry on Salon, in which he asks, "Why is this gooey paste inherently any grosser than eating a chicken leg?"

Here's the video if you're really curious. Frankly, I can't watch the whole thing. 

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Food Critic
Contact: Melissa McCart