Questions and Answers about Mechanically Separated Chicken

October 28, 2013

How is mechanically separated chicken different from lean finely textured beef?

Lean finely textured beef (what was referred to by the media as “pink slime”) is derived using a process that involves separating beef from fat.  “Mechanically separated chicken,” or MSC, on the other hand, is product that is derived from separating chicken meat, which is naturally low in fat, from the bone, using a high pressure device.  This method helps chicken processors prevent the waste of nutritious protein that remains on the bone after other cuts of meat have been removed.

Is ammonium hydroxide used the production of MSC? 

While the federal government has determined the use of ammonium hydroxide in food processing is safe, it is not used in the production of MSC.

What food products might contain MSC?

MSC has been used in some food products since 1969 and is produced according to USDA standards and under USDA inspection.  It is used primarily as an ingredient in fully cooked and ready-to-eat products, such as hot dogs, bologna and other luncheon meats.  It is not typically used in chicken nuggets or patties.

Is MSC sold in raw form to consumers?

MSC is not sold directly to consumers and products containing it are fully cooked, like hot dogs, bologna and other luncheon meats.

What is MSC made from?

Think of a rotisserie chicken. After you remove the breasts, wings, legs and thighs from the chicken, there will be some small pieces of meat left on the bones (we call it the frame) that you cannot easily remove by hand. A chicken processing plant utilizes current technology to remove the remaining meat from the chicken frame by using a high pressure, sieve-like machine that is able to recover the remaining meat. This method helps chicken processors prevent the waste of nutritious, high quality protein that remains on the bone after other cuts of meat have been removed. It is tested for calcium to assure that any trace amounts of bone material that may be present conform to USDA standards.

Is it labeled? 

If MSC is used as an ingredient in a product, whether destined for retail or food service, it must be labeled on the ingredient statement as “mechanically separated chicken.”

For additional resources on MSC, please visit:

  • fowltips
  • Vertical Integration
  • Learn About Modern Chicken Breeding
  • What's Really in that Chicken Nugget?
  • Industry-Wide Standards for Broiler Chicken Welfare
the Chicken Gurantees
  • Worried about salmonella? All chicken is safe to eat if properly handled and fully cooked. Click for safety tips.