Category Archives: Mechanically Separated Chicken

There’s no mechanically separated chicken in McNuggets, but we still don’t want to eat them

Mechanically separated chicken has been in the news again recently. That’s the chicken that’s created by grinding up any chicken part you might be able to think of. It looks like pink slime and while many manufacturers argue that there’s really nothing wrong with it, millions of consumers have adamantly disagreed.

That disturbing pink slime has been associated relentlessly with the manufacturing of chicken nuggets, especially in fast food products. Over and over again, McDonald’s has stated that McNuggets cannot be included in that statement.

Now McDonald’s is attempting to dispel those rumors with a new video. McDonald’s Canada has taken a film crew behind the scenes to document the manufacturing of the McNugget.

The YouTube video takes viewers inside the Cargill plant in Ontario that makes McNuggets. And we do find out, in fact, that there is no mechanically separated chicken used — at least not in the traditional sense of the term.

They do start the process with actual chicken breast meat. That meat is then put through a grinder along with chicken skin and seasoning. To be perfectly honest, that still evokes a loud “ewwww” from the folks here at But in fairness, it doesn’t include any and every imaginable chicken part.

After the grinding process, the “substance” is shaped into McNuggets in four specific shapes. We’re not sure McNuggets have specific shapes here in the U.S., but apparently in Canada they are bells, balls, bow ties and boots.

They are then battered twice and par-fried for shipment.

McDonald’s has stated that the manufacturing process for McNuggets is exactly the same here in the U.S.

The average McNugget fan is eating a six-piece portion of this “treat.” That serving contains 280 calories, 17 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat and 600 mg of sodium — not exactly what we’d call a healthier option.

Technically, McDonald’s is telling the truth. McNuggets are made from white meat chicken. They are lying by omission, though, because chicken skin is never cited as an ingredient. And 17 grams of fat is a lot to find in six small nuggets. Sorry, McDonald’s, but you haven’t made McNugget fans out of anyone around here with this new information.

Because mechanically separated chicken isn’t bad enough …

That pink slime in the photo here … that’s mechanically separated chicken. We know, we know … that’s not what you think of when you hear that term. It  sounds like the actual meat is being separated into pieces by a machine.

Here’s the actual definition:

Mechanically separated meat (MSM), mechanically recovered/reclaimed meat (MRM), or mechanically deboned meat (MDM) is a paste-like meat product produced by forcing beef,pork, turkey or chicken, under high pressure through a sieve or similar device to separate the bone from the edible meat tissue. The process entails pureeing or grinding the carcass left after the manual removal of meat from the bones and then forcing the slurry through a sieve under pressure. This puree included bone, bone marrow, skin, nerves, blood vessels in addition to the scraps of meat remaining on the bones. The resulting product is a blend of muscle (meat) and other tissues not generally considered meat.

While manufacturers claim that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with mechanically separated meat, it’s not exactly appetizing. is pretty positive that no one actually wants to consume ANYTHING that contains bone, marrow, skin, nerves and blood vessels. Since the “substance” made the news a few years back and consumers had a fairly unanimous “ewww” reaction, certain manufacturers have refrained from using it. But it’s certainly still out there in a variety of products. And some of those products are produced for institutional use.

Tyson Foods is recalling 33,840 pounds of mechanically separated chicken products that may be contaminated with Salmonella Heidelberg, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

The products are being recalled after being connected to Salmonella illnesses at a Tennessee correctional facility where the chicken was served. Seven patients have been identified with Salmonella infection, including two who have required hospitalization.

The recalled products were only shipped “for institutional use” nationwide and are not available for consumers to purchase at retail outlets.

Maybe that should make us feel better??? Consider that foods meant for institutional use can make their way into some schools, universities, hospitals, churches, government facilities and military bases — in addition to the prison that has already been affected. As disturbing as mechanically separated chicken may be, mechanically separated chicken infected with salmonella is certainly more disturbing. Hopefully Tyson’s recall has this incident completely covered.