SCAVENGER HUNT: Is This YOUR McDonald’s Pink Slime Meat?

Help identify the true source of this photo by tweeting or sharing the link to this page. Even better, if you took this photo or know who did … please … tell me.

Chances are, you’ve seen this specific photo because it’s been flying around the interwebs for some time and the damn thing is all over the news in relation to a recent story on McDonald’s “Pink Slime” meat.

You can find it all over the net and on big and reputable sites, like: The Examiner, FOX43 TV, The Gothamist, International Business Times, The Inquisitr, Jezebel.com, KHQ-Q6 (NBC), KSDK, MSNBC, NINEMSN (Australia), WPTV (NBC), Yahoo! News, and countless other news and blogging sites from around the globe.

It appears that people have just been accepting interwebs photos and blog postings as fact and then carrying it along. I’m not saying it’s not the alleged mechanically separated meat. However, I am saying that these sites don’t appear to know the actual source and facts of this specific photo, but they present the photo as if they do. Important stuff, which I’ll explain.

Of the sites listed in these recent stories, they credit no one, Urbanspoon.com, The Inquisitr, KDSK-TV, or MSNBC who in turn credits KDSK-TV, who credits no one. This sort of crediting stands out as rather odd and suspicious when you know that this exact photo has been floating around for years with entirely different sets of source credits. For example …

On October 4th, 2010, The Huffington Post claimed the photo was of “Pre-Chicken Nugget Meat” and gave credit to “Fooducate via Early Onset of Night.”

That was a bullshit source reference.

The blogger at “Early Onset of Night” claims he got the picture from Fooducate, so it’s not his. In a story by Amber Hildebrandt of the CBC on October 5th, 2010, Fooducate’s founder said he doesn’t know where he got the photo. So we’ve got a blogger claiming to get the photo from another blogger who claims he doesn’t know where he got it. In a nutshell, Huffington Post’s intial credit reference was a credit of pilfering a pilfered photo of unknown origins. They updated their story on October 5th, 2010, to say Although the original source of the photo is unknown … well, duh.

So where did it come from? Well, from the start of the very same CBC story, Amber claimed The photo first appeared on the food education blog, Fooducate, in 2009 under the headline, Guess what’s in the picture.

The photo didn’t make its first appearance online at Fooducate in 2009. How do I know this? Easy.

The photo can be found on the Buzzfeed of a user by the name of Edith Zimmerman, who made her posting on January 16th, 2009, 7 months before Fooducate’s blog posting. Edith listed her source as a Wikipedia entry on mechanically separated meat, but the image is no longer included in the Wikipedia entry.

As you can see from Wikipedia’s entry revisions, the image (filename: Mechanicallyseparatedchicken.jpg) was first added by a Wikipedia user named Infinitrium on November 18th, 2008, and it remained in Wikipedia until being deleted on January 17th, 2009, the day after Edith posted to Buzzfeed.

Why was the image deleted? Because Infinitrium added the photo with no source, description, or credits, which you can verify in his/her Wikipedia user history. Although removed, it was added back in on February 25th, 2009, which was removed for a second time on March 3rd, 2009, for the very same reasons: no credits, description, or source.

Since the image file Mechanicallyseparatedchicken.jpg was deleted from Wikipedia and can no longer be viewed there, how do I know the images are likely the same? Easy.

On the very same day that Edith copied the photo from Wikipedia and posted it to Buzzfeed – without the image filename reference – another internet user named Brent_Zupp also took the photo and uploaded it to his Flickr account … kindly linking directly to the image file in question at Wikipedia.

And there we have it.

Thus far. I’ve tracked the image back to an anonymous upload to Wikipedia on November 18th, 2008, which included no description, reference, or source information. Some anonymous user uploaded the photo to Wikipedia, providing no information, and from there it just shot across the interwebs with bloggers, TV stations, and news outlets big and small giving out all sorts of different credits and claims about the photo for nearly 3 1/2 years now.

It’s chicken! It’s beef! It’s McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets! It’s McDonald’s hamburger meat! It’s mystery meat! No, maybe it’s ice cream, or bubble gum?

I just want to know … I NEED to know … who took this exact photo? Exactly what is this specific photo of, when was it taken, where was it taken, by whom was it taken? Somewhere, someone knows who took the photo.

Why do I care? Easy.

Was it not just last month that SOPA and PIPA were hot topics? The interwebs was outraged while some big media giants with deep pockets were chomping at the bit. They wanted SOPA, they wanted PIPA, they wanted to protect their content and their rights and they wanted a means to do it that could royally put the screws to the little guys.

Fine. Whatever. Now riddle me this …

I’ve personally traced the source of this photo back to an anonymous user in 2008. It made waves in 2009, 2010, and now it’s back in the limelight and each time it makes the rounds it’s credited to different sources. If major news outlets can’t seem to get their sources straight and consistent with their army of staff and big bank accounts, if they can lay claim to photos that they just culled from some random blog, if they can just assume that some partner source is legit, where exactly do they get the nerve to talk about protecting their rights and their content?

Here’s an even better question. If huge sites like Canada’s CBC and the Huffington Post can run stories with photos which they freely admit to not knowing the source of, shouldn’t your everyday little guy interwebs user or blogger be free to claim the same ignorance?

Quid pro quo.

In any case, I just want to know WHO TOOK THIS DAMN PHOTO!?!?!

Yeah. I need a hobby.