Pink slime was in our fast food! And now it’s in our school lunches! Which is horrifying in large part because, well, it looks like this:


Only it doesn’t. The anonymous photo said to be of pink slime, which has come to describe beef cuts treated with ammonium hydroxide, has been floating around the Internet for years. The photo even has its own YouTube song (“pink slime/pink goo/and you”).

But the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is buying 7 million pounds of the treated beef with the help of schools in the coming months, says the photo shows something else.

What the photo actually shows is mechanically separated chicken, the kind of chicken used in chicken nuggets. As the blog Fooducate explains, an invention in the 1960s found that meat processors could get the last few scraps of chicken off the bird by scraping the bones of the meat. The method is called AMR, or Advanced Meat Recovery. And the above photo showing a pink and creamy paste is the result.

The ammonium-treated beef cuts, on the other hand, look something more like this.

“How scary is it . . .” wrote “The Food Tray” blogger Bettina Siegel on Wednesday, “that there are two types of slimy pink meat goo in our food supply?”