Mechanically Separated Poultry Is Used In Processed Products and Isn’t Labeled


When cuts of poultry are removed from bones, small pieces of poultry meat remain on the bone. Hand removal of these small pieces is extremely difficult, so specialized machines can be used to remove the remaining poultry meat. The poultry meat removed by such machines is called mechanically separated poultry (MSP).

MSP has been used in poultry products since the late 1960s. In 1995, a final rule on mechanically separated poultry said it was safe and could be used without restrictions, though it must be labeled as "mechanically separated chicken or turkey" in product's ingredient statement.

In terms of nutritional value, MSP is essentially the same as breast or thigh meat. It has the same protein levels, but the pieces of poultry that are removed from the bone to make MSP are too small to form a stand-alone whole-muscle poultry cut. Because MSP is derived from poultry meat that is close to the bone, it can have slightly higher calcium content when compared to whole muscles.

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There are several benefits of using the machines to remove poultry to make MSP. For instance, the machines reduce repetitive motion injuries in workers and help, at the same time, to keep poultry products affordable by preventing unnecessary waste. It allows poultry producers to get the most meat out of each animal which enhances environmental stewardship and increases sustainability.

In contrast to some rumors, MSP is not typically used to make chicken nuggets. However, it may be used in some processed products like bologna and hot dogs. MSP is suited to these products because removing it from bones creates a softer consistency that works well in a product that is blended with other ingredients and cooked.