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February 24, 2009

Mechanically separated chicken

One of the editors at the Sun stopped by my desk this afternoon and said she had been shopping for hot dogs, and every brand she picked up had this ingredient: "mechanically separated chicken [or turkey]." She finally found one kind of hot dog that didn't and bought it.

I hadn't heard the phrase, but then it's been awhile since I bought hot dogs, so I Googled it. The first listing was this.

Twilight Zone music, please. ...

Here's what the link gave as a definition, although I couldn't find the original source immediately.

Mechanically Separated Poultry is a paste-like poultry product produced by forcing crushed bone and tissue through a sieve or similar device to separate bone from tissue. Mechanically separated poultry has been used in poultry products since 1969 after the National Academy of Sciences found it safe for use. In 1995 the final rule on mechanically separated poultry said it was safe to use without restrictions. However, it must be labeled as "mechanically separated chicken or turkey" in the ingredient statement. The final rule became effective Nov. 1996. 

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 5:31 PM | | Comments (29)


Ewww! I'd rather eat pork brains!

A hot dog that contains turkey or chicken or tofu is not a hot dog. Puh.

Not to be a contrarian ... but ...
maybe that's not a bad thing. Maybe it's a good thing. Here's what I'm thinking. In the olden days before single serving SPAM, people cooked and ate whole animals. The bones and cartilage were used for broth and gravy. They contain minerals and proteins, especially for bone and joint replenishment, that aren't available in the I'll Just Have a Steamed Skinless Chicken Breast with Broccoli World.

Obviously nutrients dissolved in broth are more absorbable than those in extruded pieces, but you never know.

It's not just talk that those hotdogs are full of lips & butts!

One good food after another in the Sand box. Is the Addams family doing our shopping? I would have said 'yummy' but the dripping with sarcasm might not have come across. Oh, what the hey: YUMMY.

(Hey Bucky, an embarrassment of riches from which to choose.)

I approve of using bones and cartilage for stock, broth, etc. (what the heck is the difference between stock and broth anyway?), and do so here in my own kitchen on a regular basis. I just am leery of the food-industrial complex mashing it all together and swearing that the bone and cartilage are nicely strained out.

This method is also used for beef and pork. There are also methods where the machinery actually scrapes residual meat from the bones without breaking or crushing the bone. I believe there is a standard for how much calcium can be in such meat without labeling it as "mechanically separated." If it meets that standard it requires no special labeling.

Scrapple's starting to look like haute cuisine.

And I believe Owl Meat accused me of lowering the bar when I wrote about eating worms in a life-or-death emergency situation.


Yuck... I already can't eat sausages because I watched a video of them being made. Now I'm starting to wonder about hot dogs!

Owl Meat accused me of lowering the bar when I wrote about eating worms in a life-or-death emergency situation.

I stopped reading when I saw "worms" for the same reason that I stop reading anything when I see the words "Hugh Jackman". Urrrhhh ... Jackman!

I already can't eat sausages because I watched a video of them being made. Now I'm starting to wonder about hot dogs!

1) Hot dogs are sausages.
2) That's how I feel about government.

[Klingon death wail:]

I swore off most hot dogs about 40 years ago. I also avoid ground beef, because of the mechanical separation issue. Who knows what bits of spinal cord might end up in your burger? No mad cow for me, thankyouverymuch.

I can no longer donate blood, just because I lived in Scotland for more than six months after 1980. The Red Cross is afraid I might be carrying mad cow disease. Its been over 25 years now and no mooing yet!

I like hotdogs but don't eat them very often.

I can no longer donate blood, just because I lived in Scotland for more than six months

Gie yer heed it ay yer erse ye rockit, it's coz ye bleed whiskey ye wee dobber.

PCB Rob - Maybe the Red Cross knows something the rest of us should! Who knows, maybe there is an extensive time period where MCD can remain dormant...nah, that's utterly ridiculous.

I was over 6 gallons in donations when the MCD thing came out, and they decided to defer everyone that lived in the UK for more than six months anytime after 1980. I think it was around 1999 or so when they did it.

Nae scots whiskey for me.

I'm not paranoid but I am beginning to really exam ingredients for processed food. For some time I noticed that good old tuna fish - the fancy albacore in spring water - was mushy - and when drained amounted to half a can of solid, darker colored tuna. Well the ingredients show vegetable base has been added - all brands show it.

But then I found "gourmet prime filet" tuna - about twice the price. And guess what - it's the old tuna I grew up eating - nice chunks of light colored tuna and no vegetable stock. I wonder how many people are aware of this switcheroo that took place with such a popular product?

I thought the mechanically separated meat was one of the nicer things they put in cat and dog food?

I don't think you're paranoid. I look over the ingredients and nutrition info of most everything I buy, and yes, I've noticed that tuna has a vegetable broth/base added to it. Plus a bunch of salt, so I rinse the tuna in a strainer real well before using it.

I might try that gourmet tuna.

Lissa - maybe that's why my cat is so happy when I open a can of tuna fish?

EdG & Fl Rob, I assumed that the tuna was white albacore swimming in water til just now. I checked the label and well, I don't want the cat having all that salt not to mention me and the kid! I'm going to have to check the single pouch servings that have no "juice" in 'em at all. Maybe they have less salt and preservatives.

The things you learn here...I give my cat a very small spoonful of tuna in the am and pm with her thyroid medicine. It is the only was I can get her to take it! I should probably check out the pouches.

And Joyce, my cat goes crazy when I open the can also!

Oh EdG if you think you're paranoid today, just wait until tomorrow ... [evil laugh]

one is actually not supposed to give cats tuna of any sort. it's bad for their kidneys. don't do it.

Anonymous is correct, according to my understanding. My kitties love fish, but they don't get tuna.

I guess I am paranoid - I'm tired of going to good restaurants - and I mean well respected ones only to find they're dipping too deeply into the pulverized, synthesized, euthanized, preserved Sysco catalogue for food.
I wonder how many restaurants still make their own stocks - chicken, veal, fish, vegetable - I heard even Michael Gettier is buying some commercially prepared stocks - aka bases in the "catalogue." Yes sir, slop down those chemicals with your wonderful tasting gravy and soups - better things for better living from Dupont!

EdG -- as the old Monsanto ads uised to say, "Without chemicals, life itself would be impossible."

BankStreet - thanks! I was worrying myself to death because I give my cat tuna on (rare) occassions. I'm not only going to not do that anymore, but since they advice not to give it often because of high amounts of mercury, I wonder if my son, partner and I should all be eating it!

Eve - as I used to say in the late '70s "better living through chemistry".

Joyce, a lot of people were following that advice way back when, but I believe DuPont got to it first.

"Better Living through Chemistry" was the theme of the DuPont Pavilion at the '64-'65 New York World's Fair.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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