McDonald’s doesn’t use mechanically separated chicken

10 February 2022
What was claimed

McDonald’s uses mechanically separated chicken.

Our verdict


A viral post on Facebook depicting a smooth extrusion of bubblegum-pink substance claims this is “mechanically separated chicken” which is used in the production of fast food chicken items.

'Mechanically separated meat' is obtained by forcing raw bones with attached edible meat, under pressure, through a sieve to remove bones, which results in a paste-like consistency after processing. 

It is sometimes used in processed meat products but it is false to suggest this is what “all fast food chicken items are made of”. 

The post also claims that this is used in McDonald’s products, though McDonald’s UK has said it does not use mechanically separated poultry in any of its items. Snopes previously reported that McDonald’s stopped using mechanically separated chicken in 2003. 

The image in the Facebook post has been going around the internet for around a decade. While we were not able to verify where it was taken or what meat product it actually is, it does bear resemblance to mechanically separated chicken. It may also be an image of a  slightly different processed beef product often referred to as “pink slime”. McDonald’s used this until 2011 in its US restaurants, though this is not processed in the same way as mechanically separated meat, and was not used in the UK.The fast food retailer released a video in 2016 showing its US chicken nugget production process, where deboned white meat is coarsely ground. The image that appears in the Facebook post is shown by way of comparison.

McDonald’s UK released a similar video in 2015 showing how the chicken in its nuggets is chicken breast that has been ground, not mechanically separated meat.

Mechanically separated meat must be specified as such on ingredient lists in England.

Image courtesy of James Palinsad via Wikimedia Commons

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