UPDATE: McNugget mystery solved, expert confirms object is a feather
Watch the original story at the bottom of the page.
ELKHART, Ind. – The four-piece nugget was supposed to be a quick snack for Raquel House on Tuesday afternoon, but it turned into a gross situation that left her nauseous and searching for answers.
Thursday afternoon Charlotte Wolfe, the owner/operator of Prairie Winds Nature Farm, examined the object and determined it was a pin feather. “It looks like a small pin-feather, from a broiler-type chicken that would be used for meat in just about any kind of processed chicken product,” said Wolfe.
Wolfe has been raising chickens and other poultry for years, and has on many occasions processed the birds to eat in her own home.
Sometimes, the defeathering process can break the pin feather and lodge it in the bird’s skin, according to Wolfe.
A McDonald’s representative was able to provide us with a marketing video of the Keystone Foods processing plant.
The video was shot during a visit of mothers participating in a program called All Access Moms.
The women were given a tour of the plants operation and were shown how a Chicken McNugget is created from egg to plate.
The same program was held in Canada. There, mothers wrote detailed testimonials of what they saw and experienced during their tour of the Cargill processing plant in London, Ontario.
The video from Keystone and the written accounts from Cargill seemed to match up, for the most part.
There were some things not found in one, but present in the other.
Whether those steps in the processing of chickens are omitted stateside remains unknown, since the McDonald’s representative was unable to provide detailed processing steps from both plants for a side by side comparison.
One step that is specifically referenced in the Canadian processing plant, but omitted in the U.S. video, is a step where the chicken is sent through an x-ray machine at least twice after it is deboned.
The x-ray machine is supposed to catch any hidden foreign objects, such as bones that may have broken off and become lodged in the flesh of the bird.
At this time, representatives from McDonald’s are trying to determine which supplier provided the batch of nuggets in question.
The fast food giant would also like to take a look at the feather, but claim House has refused to turn it over.
That is not true, according to House. She insists she is willing to allow them to examine the feather, but she is hesitant to let it out of her sight.
After Wolfe validated her concern over the object being a feather, House said she felt relieved.
She finally knew exactly what the object was, and what she may have swallowed.
When asked if she would be filing a lawsuit House said, “It’s just more important for me that I’m okay and that they, the viewers, know what the conclusion is and that everything else is less important.”
House purchased the nuggets, a small fry, and an ice cream cone from the McDonald’s on Cassopolis Street in Elkhart, near the Toll Road.
After finishing the cone and fries, she popped the first nugget into her mouth. It was not until she took a bite from the second nugget her mid-day snack was ruined.
After biting into the nugget, House realized something was not right. “I started to feel like there was hair in my mouth, and that’s when I saw that there was white hair on my tongue; and I looked at my food, and there was feathers coming off the nugget,” said House.
House called the store and let them know about the problem, but was not fully satisfied with the response she got.
She also wanted to let her community know about her nugget experience, in case there were other contaminated nuggets in the same batch that had also been sold. So she called us.
At first, I was a little skeptical and wanted to see for myself what House was talking about.
When I met with her, she showed me photos she took and the nugget with the foreign object sticking out of it.
It certainly did not look like anything I have ever seen in a nugget before, so we started to dig whatever it was out of the nugget.
We eventually were able to pull it free from the nugget and take a closer look.
The outside felt smooth and a little bit like plastic, or finger nail to me.
It even appeared to have fibers shooting out of one end.
Later that night, House still could not bring herself to eat anything. According to House, every time she thinks about eating something, she remembers the incident vividly.
Even though she was upset, House is thinking of the community and she just wants to know the company is doing everything they can to protect their customers. “I was really upset, I mean, now I’ve kind of calmed down but to me this is just being a responsible citizen in our community and that’s just letting people know what’s going on,” said House
We contacted McDonald’s corporate office Tuesday evening. They put us in touch with the area media relations personnel.
They assured me they would investigate the matter, and asked the object be saved so they could look at it; According to House, she will keep everything if it means getting answers.
The owner of the McDonald’s that sold House the nuggets, Harry L. Smith, provided us with this written statement Tuesday night:
“We take matters regarding food safety and quality very seriously and caution anyone from jumping to conclusions. Upon learning about this claim, we immediately began the process of collecting the facts. Our customer’s health and safety is paramount.”
But according to House, the results of the investigation won’t matter much to her if the object turns out to be some other part of the bird, and not a feather. “It needs to look like meat, and it needs to feel like meat. It doesn’t need to be other parts in there and if it is, then they need to put that on the box so that we know what else we are eating,” said House.