Researcher finds way to turn dark chicken meat into white

ATLANTA — Daniel Fletcher has found a way to transform dark meat chicken into white, a scientific advance some purists say has gone too far.

"Leave chicken alone," said Mary Raczka, who's in charge of hospitality at Mary Mac's Tea Room, a prominent Southern-style restaurant in midtown Atlanta that serves more than 500 pounds of fried chicken a week — dark and white meat.

But Fletcher, a University of Georgia poultry science professor, said his other white meat isn't designed to compete with real thing on restaurant menus or grocery shelves. Instead, it's a filler that can be used to add protein and amino acids to something else, such as chicken nuggets.

The recipe involves adding excess water to ground-up dark meat to create a kind of meat soup, then spinning the mixture around in a tub at high speed. The centrifugal force makes the mixture settle into layers of fat, water, and extracted meat, which can be molded into breast-like patties of all-white meat.

When food specialist Marion Nestle heard about Fletcher's work, she immediately compared the end product to imitation crab meat made from minced fish.

"Surimi! This is chicken surimi! For the purpose of creating chicken-like objects ... yuck!" said Nestle, a food studies professor at New York University.

Fletcher said Nestle's reaction is typical, but he has a ready response: "There's a lot of good eating experiences you may have had in your life that you wouldn't think were as good if you read the label."

Hot dogs, made of minced chicken, pork, beef and other meat byproducts, are a primary example. But millions of people devour these pressed, squeezed and extremely processed food products each year.

"It tastes like something you would use with Hamburger Helper," Fletcher acknowledged after nibbling a sample of his faux white meat. "It's a very neutral flavor. In some ways, it's like tofu. Tofu is something with so little character that if you eat it by itself, it'd put you to sleep."

Source: USA Today
calendar icon 29 August 2005
clock icon 1 minute read
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