Have you ever glanced at the ingredients on a hot dog or a can of Spam Lite and wondered about an ingredient called “mechanically separated chicken” or “mechanically separated meat”? This type of meat is collected from animal carcasses after all the prime cuts of muscle have been removed.
In order to not waste the meat scraps still clinging to the bone, slaughterhouses remove the meat either by scraping, pressing or shaving the scraps off the bone, or by simply blasting it with pressurized air or water. The meat comes off in a reddish slurry, which is then mixed into low-grade meat products such as hot dogs and lunchmeat in order to bulk them up.
Other common end products for mechanically separated meat include hamburger, ground beef, canned meat and processed meat products such as Slim Jims. Mechanically separated meat is also known as mechanically recovered meat, mechanically reclaimed meat and mechanically deboned meat.