Do You Know Nutrition: What are mechanically separated meats?

By Phylis Canion
Jan. 17, 2012 at midnight
Updated Jan. 16, 2012 at 7:17 p.m.

Phylis Canion

Phylis Canion

After reading your column on meat glue, I have become an avid label reader. Recently I came across "mechanically separated poultry" on a label and would appreciate an explanation.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, and their Food Safety and Inspection Service, mechanically separated poultry is a paste-like, batter-like poultry product produced by forcing bones with attached edible tissue (i.e. connective tissue, fat and skin) through a sieve or similar device under high pressure to separate bone from edible tissue.

The result, is a pink goo that must be washed with chemicals to kill the bacteria, then artificially flavored. Mechanically separated poultry has been used since 1969.

In 1995, a final rule on mechanically separated poultry said it would be used without restrictions.

At this time, it is only required to be listed on the product label as mechanically separated and applies only to chicken, pork and turkey. Because of food safety regulations enacted in 2004 to protect consumers against Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (more commonly known as mad cow disease), mechanically separated beef is considered inedible and is prohibited for use in human food.

Processed meat-like foods, bologna, Vienna sausages, hot dogs and chicken nuggets are most likely candidates for containing mechanically separated ingredients.

I have read several articles about how soy is good for hot flashes and other articles that say the opposite. Can you please share some light on this subject?

Soy supplements are basically isolated phytoestrogens called isoflavones, such as genistein and daidzein, which act like drugs.

Dr. Bruce West said phytoestrogens are powerful hormone-disrupting agents that can cause hormonal imbalances when taken in high doses.

Other problems with soy supplements are that they can damage your thyroid gland and cause indigestion.

In addition, soy contains phytates, enzyme-inhibitors that block mineral absorption in the human digestive tract, resulting in poor uptake of many vital nutrients.

Soy is also high in trypsin inhibitors. Trypsin is a digestive enzyme that we need to properly digest protein.

Without trypsin, you can experience digestive problems that can include stomach cramps, diarrhea and bleeding.

Soy isolates taste terrible, are not real food (like soy lecithin, as discussed in a previous column) and are powerfully denatured in the manufacturing process.

The Food and Drug Administration lists the soybean plant more than 280 times in its Poisonous Plant Database.

Thought for the week: Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.

Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant, e-mail her at This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.



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