Recall: Something Even Nastier than Usual Lurks in Tyson Chicken Nuggets

Nutritional Anarchy
by Daisy Luther

Just in case chicken “nuggets” aren’t disgusting enough, now Tyson has been forced to recall more than 75,000 pounds of the melded poultry parts because of “extraneous material”.

Due to an issue with some of the processing equipments, consumers may find a little something extra in their “nuggets” – little bits of plastic. The USDA reports:

The problem was discovered after the firm received consumer complaints that small pieces of plastic were found in the products. The problem was traced to a product scraper inside a blending machine.

The company has received reports of minor oral injury associated with consumption of these products. FSIS has received no additional reports of injury or illness from consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness from consumption of these products should contact a healthcare provider. (source)

Sadly, plastic is not the worst thing you might find in chicken nuggets. They are made when the inedible parts of the chicken are washed with ammonia to kill bacteria, “mechanically separated” which means turned into a paste, and squirted out into mini-nugget blobs or patties. The parts included are the entire carcass, the tendons, the gristle…ugh. Then artificial flavors and good old MSG are used to disguise the nasty origins of the “meat” and because it’s Pepto-pink, artificial color is used to make it look like chicken.

According to an article on Mother Jones, only 40% of that tidy little breaded nugget is actually chicken meat.

The implicit marketing pitch goes something like this: “You like fried chicken, right? How about some bite-sized fried chicken chunks, without the messy bones?” When most people think of eating chicken, they think of, say, biting into a drumstick. What they get when they do so is a mouthful of muscle—popularly known as meat

What people are actually getting from chicken nuggets is a bit different, according to a new study by University of Mississippi medical researchers. (Abstract here; I have access to the full paper but can’t upload it for copyright reasons.) They bought an order of chicken nuggets from two (unnamed) fast-food chains, plucked a nugget from each, broke them down, and analyzed them in a lab.

One of them contained just 40 percent muscle. The rest? “[G]enerous quantities of fat and other tissue, including connective tissue and bone spicules.” Mmmm, chicken bones.

The other sample had a whopping 50 percent muscle. The remainder consisted “primarily of fat, with some blood vessels and nerve present,” as well as epithelium, the stuff that glands are made of.

Now why would national fast-food chains be mixing bone and fat and whatnot into the chicken meat they grind into nuggets? I doubt anyone ever woke up and thought, “I’m craving some mechanically formed orbs of chicken parts, including meat, but also with plenty of fat, connective tissue, glands, and bone.” Offal is a lot cheaper than meat—the more you can work in, the more profit you can eke out of this popular menu item. Granted, people should eat more offal, as I’ve argued before. But (a) they have a right to know when they’re eating it; (b) one reason people eat chicken meat is because they think it’s lean—cutting it with chicken fat turns such eaters into suckers; and (c) bone matter, really? Bones are great when they’re gently boiled into highly nutritious broths and stocks. That seems like a much more reasonable use for them than hiding them in chicken nuggets. (source)

So therein lies all of the chicken bits and pieces people wouldn’t normally eat, GMO corn starch, GMO dextrose, and chemical flavors and colors. Big Food is also not well-known for its humane treatment of animals. They are raised in horrific conditions, treated with antibiotics and hormones, and fed GMO corn. Considering all of this nastiness that you can find with a seal of USDA/FDA approval in the freezer section of your grocery store, it’s gotta be bad if there is something included that ups the nastiness quotient to the point a recall is necessary. After all, in the grand scheme of revolting things to eat, are little flecks of plastic really that much grosser than the other stuff contained within that crispy coating?

If you or someone you love happens to have this stuff lurking in your freezer, you can find complete information about the recall HERE.

Our anarchist recommendation? If you are going to eat chicken, try to find a local source of free range poultry. Cook it yourself. It really doesn’t take that much longer to throw a chicken breast on a pan and put it in the oven than to shake “nuggets” out of a bag onto a pan and put it in the oven. If your kids want “friendly” shapes, you can pound the chicken thin with a meat mallet and use a stainless steel cookie cutter to make dinosaurs, butterflies, and whatnot.

Food Manufacturers are Fraudulently Diluting High-Quality Food with Inferior Quality Junk

Washington’s Blog

In a predictable trend, food manufacturers are fraudulently diluting high-quality food with inferior quality items.  As ABC News reports:

A new scientific examination by the non-profit food fraud detectives the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP), discovered rising numbers of fake ingredients in products from olive oil to spices to fruit juice.


“Food products are not always what they purport to be,” Markus Lipp, senior director for Food Standards for the independent lab in Maryland, told ABC News.


In a new database to be released Wednesday, and obtained exclusively by ABC News today, USP warns consumers, the FDA and manufacturers that the amount of food fraud they found is up by 60 percent this year.

In addition, 70% of all ground beef was found to contain “pink slime”.

Butchers use “meat glue” to create “bigger” cuts of beef, chicken, lamb and fish, even though it leads to much higher levels of food poisoning:

British hamburgers were found to contain horse meat and pork … and it could happen in the U.S. as well.

Indeed, modern red meat is arguably not really meat at all.

And selling genetically modified food without labeling them as such is arguably food fraud as well, since a large majority of Americans want genetically modified foods to be labeled, genetically engineered foods have been linked to obesity, cancer, liver failure, infertility and all sorts of other diseases (brief videos here and here), and the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t even test the safety of such foods.

Bad Policy Made Food Fraud Predictable

This trend was predictable because food manufacturers have been trying to hide food inflation in various ways.

The inflation in food prices, in turn, has been caused by quantitative easing – printed in an attempt to hide bank fraud – and the use of the printed money for wild speculation by the big banks has driven up food and related commodity prices.

And – instead of fighting for safer food – the Department of Justice and FDA often target whistleblowers and do everything they can to cover up wrongdoing. The Department of Agriculture is no better. And the Feds are treating people who expose abuse in factory farms as potential terrorists … and the states want the same power.

First pink slime, now ‘meat glue

Seattle Times

Every day, millions of Americans likely are putting something in their mouths that contains a substance called “meat glue” by critics of the food industry.

The additive with the unappetizing nickname is used to produce meats found in supermarkets, in local delis and in restaurants ranging from fast food to fine dining. Even vegetarian food isn’t exempt.

Marketing consultants and food scientists estimate — because no company will discuss sales figures — that 11 percent to 35 percent of all packaged and sliced ham, beef, chicken, fish, pizza toppings and other deli products are enhanced, restructured or molded using the meat glue, made from one of two brands of protein adhesive.

While federal laws require labeling, a spot-check of meat purveyors and restaurant suppliers found almost no companies listed the substances among their products’ ingredients.

Further, 10 meat and cold-cut processors and fast-food outlets — including Tyson Food, Cargill Meats, McDonald’s and Arby’s — were contacted, but all declined to discuss whether they used transglutaminase or blood-extract products, saying either it was proprietary, or, if they did use them, it need not be reported because the binders were considered a “processing aid.”

Like the “pink slime” used as a cheap ground-beef filler, meat glue is not considered a health risk by federal food watchdogs.

Nonetheless, consumers recently reacted with revulsion to the presence of pink-slime filler in ground meat, ultimately leading to the closing of three processing plants and the removal of the additive from some restaurants’ fare.

Whether meat glue will meet the same fate, the lack of disclosure is the same in critics’ eyes.

“For decades, the meat industry has conveniently operated in the dark, not sharing the dirty details of their practices with the public, while the federal government looked the other way,” said Michele Simon, a policy consultant for the Center for Food Safety. “But now, consumers are demanding to know the truth about what they are.”

One of the two most common forms of meat glue used in this country is Activa, a white powder form of a natural coagulantlike enzyme called transglutaminase. (The popular yogurt Activia has no connections to Activa.)

The other is Fibrimex, made of enzymes extracted from pig or beef blood by a process developed in The Netherlands.

Both products were designed and sold, their advertising says, to bond pieces of protein or irregularly shaped meat so it can be cut and cooked evenly by the food-service industry.

Truth in labeling

Food scientists say the two cold-binding agents are used to reduce use of sodium phosphate, sodium alginate, carrageenan, sodium caseinate and other chemicals that had been used for decades to form and mold meat.

Not knowing Activa and Fibrimex are in certain foods can present problems for people with religious and dietary beliefs or special needs.

How can Jews, Muslims and others who don’t eat pork products know whether pig-blood extracts are holding together their chicken or fish pieces?

What about vegans and vegetarians who might not want to eat “meatless” hot dogs, sausage and luncheon meats containing bovine blood or the fermented enzymes?

“There may be economic adulteration going on here, and the (Department of Agriculture) or the (Food and Drug Administration) needs to look at whether laws are being violated,” said Tony Corbo, legislative representative for the national consumer group Food & Water Watch.

“We are especially appalled that certain consumers’ religious beliefs may be unknowingly violated because food manufacturers are hiding what goes into the production of these binding agents.”

Cold-bonding agents

Meat glue drew attention last year when an Australian YouTube video showed a meat specialist sprinkling white powder on pieces of fat, gristle and other waste beef, covering it in plastic wrap and chilling it.

Hours later, the pieces had transformed into a long log of solid meat, which then was cut into expensive-looking tenderloins.

These cold-bonding agents are being used at the top and bottom of the food chain, from fine chefs to cut-rate meat purveyors.

Meat-glue additives also are used in thousands of other food products.

A partial list of uses for transglutaminase can be found on the website of Hela Spice Canada, a subsidiary of a major German food-additive and ingredient supplier, Hela, that exports to the U.S., and 10 other countries (www.helacanada.ca).

The site says different formulations of Activa can be used for fast-food chicken nuggets and boneless wings, fish sticks, boneless barbecue ribs, roast beef, pastrami, turkey roast and hams.

Major pizza chains buy the additive for toppings including pepperoni, Italian sausage, bacon crumble and salami, according to the website.

Supermarket-brand roasts, sausages, kebabs, hams, poultry pieces, pork, beef and many high-end cuts of beef and pork also contain it.

The website also emphasizes what food-design consultants say is a growing use of transglutaminase in vegetarian meat substitutes.

Walter Knecht, president of Hela Spice Canada, declined to comment.

He referred all inquiries to transglutaminase maker Ajinomoto, a Japanese company with offices in Chicago, which said in a statement that it discloses all ingredients.

Other uses

Interviews with more than 60 industry or academic food scientists, physicians and government-safety regulators revealed other, unanticipated uses for the meat-glue additives.

These include imitation seafood, gyro meat, hundreds of baked goods, tofu, pasta, vegetables, cereals and dairy products such as yogurt. That use is growing, they add.

Still, as with pink slime, you won’t find meat glue on a list of ingredients.

More than 130 meats and deli products checked in Seattle, Milwaukee, Omaha and Denver in the past five months contained the adhesives mixtures, food scientists say.

Only four — all bolognas — had the word “enzymes” on the ingredient label.

But “enzymes,” “transglutaminase,” “thrombin” and “blood byproducts” were not listed on the labels for the remainder.

Regulations from the FDA and the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (USIS) list specific words that must appear on ingredient labels of products containing transglutaminase or the animal-blood extracts fibrinogen and thrombin.

In 2000, when federal officials first granted permission for Ajinomoto to market French-made transglutaminase in the United States, the USDA required the company tell consumers they were buying “beef tenderloin formed with water and transglutaminase enzyme,” according to USDA and FDA documents.

Ajinomoto balked; it wanted to say that its products were “formed” or “re-formed” or made with enzymes as part of the product name, such as “formed beef tenderloin.”

Ajinomoto, which in 1901 developed the sometimes-controversial flavor enhancer monosodium glutamate, or MSG, got its way.

Similar language was created for the blood-product maker Fibrimex to use on its products.

Rick Young, regional sales manager of Fibrimex maker FX Technologies in its Fremont, Neb., office, produced a copy of page 14 of USDA’s labeling bible, the Food Standard and Labeling Policy Book.

The book required phrases such as “Fibrinogen and Thrombin Plasma Protein” or “Bacon Wrapped Beef Tenderloin Steak Formed with Beef Fibrinogen and Thrombin.”

Both FX Technologies and Ajinomoto say they properly disclose the ingredients of their additives to their food-manufacturer customers. And they said it is their understanding that manufacturers are labeling their products correctly.

In a statement last week, the nutrition and health division of Ajinomoto said all meat to which transglutaminase has been added is labeled properly, as government regulations require.

“This is a requirement. There is no ‘secret,’ ” the statement said.

However, at the Institute of Food Technologists conference in New Orleans last June, Ajinomoto personnel repeatedly told potential customers their company has no way of demanding or forcing users of its transglutaminase to follow FDA or USIS labeling laws.

Meat Glue: Transglutaminase and Franken Vittles (Video)

Activist Post, Nov. 12, 2011

Welcome to Meat Glue, a covert and common additive to meat products. Meat Glue is an interesting – if not repulsive – creature. While not a registered product of Mary Shelley, royalties may be due. You might have never thought of resurrecting a hamburger back into steak, but somebody else has, and Activa (transglutaminase) is the enzymatic force of galvanism behind the ritual. Forming covalent bonds between scraps of food, they are so effectively fused together that even professional chefs and gastronomes are typically unable to distinguish veritable sausage from filet mignon once reanimated by this strange product.

The implied reasoning behind the corrosions of our quality of life is almost all equally ludicrous and unnecessary. They reason that we need GMOs and Meat Glue because we don’t have enough food, but burn their own surpluses behind our backs and destroy those who would happily eliminate the shortages they covet. From FAST to fast and furious, from Monsanto to mutant healthcare bills, a cacophony of corruption simply enforces what it cannot justify or deceive people into accepting. Children feed upon McWaste under duress, while organic farmers are terrorized by government and their corporate pillars. The sources of hassle might as well wear neon badges, as they are perceptibly merging into a single unified disease. Can’t we see?

Activa is but one of many legitimate concerns regarding the integrity of our food; and there are doubtlessly more serious issues to confront as well. The imperative matter is that of transparency and choice, and our current government has proven a treacherous and pitiful ally in this bizarre struggle. We have a right to know what we eat, and no one has the right to intentionally deceive us. With help from the FDA, deception has been made the divine right of corporations.

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