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The Chicken McHead.

The most frequently asked question: "Is the chicken head story true?"

The answer: "It is.(Now this not to say that I am saying Mc Donald's deliberatly put a broiler head into the order. Wait till the end of this story and you will get my insight into this tale.)"

As reported by the Newport News, Virginia Daily Press on November 30, here's the gist of it:

Katharine Ortega bought a box of fried chicken wings at a local McDonald's restaurant and took it home to her family. While serving her children, she noticed that one of the pieces looked odd. Examining it closely, she saw it had eyes and a beak. She screamed. It wasn't a wing ; it was a fried and battered chicken head, and fully intact.

Now it sounds fishy causing people to question it. The story has earned national headlines across the U.S. even finding its way into the august Washington Post.

Further into this account there is more to question. Why did Ortega go straight to a local TV station with her find, while she refused the owner of the restaurant to examine it? How did a chicken head find its way into a shipment of wings in the first place? "I've never heard of anything like it," a U.S.D.A. officer admitted to the Daily Press. But he was also quick to say he's not disputing Ortega's claims.

From a processing standpoint, there are two reasons why the incident is unlikely. One, the very first step of the process even before de-feathering is the beheading. And the heads are discarded. Two, the presence of unwanted parts ought to have been detected during either of two later steps: evisceration (organ removal. Lungs, heart, stomach etc.), which requires the participation of a human operator, or the bird-by-bird inspection conducted by an on-site U.S.D.A. employee.

One obvious explanation is pranksterism, a possibility investigators have so far neither accept nor reject.

Current Events
Meanwhile, Ortega's story is undergoing a transformation into an urban legend. One of the emails now circulating with attached photos (above pic) of the Newport News chicken head claims: "This was found by a woman in her Chicken Nuggets in Portland, Oregon."

Whether true, false or in between, Ortega's story is strikingly similar to "Kentucky Fried Rat" legend than any other it even points out that the victims in food contamination stories are always female (otherwords women prepare the meal or suffer the consequences a trite and over used subject. And also who is it for a man these days to tell a woman what to do?)(We don't guys.)

Speaking to reporters, she expressed chagrin that her five-year-old could have bitten into the chicken head had she not found it first. As if on cue, she concluded: "I will probably cook at home from now on."

Another news article:
Update: From the "You Deserve a Beak Today" category, on 28 November 2000, a breaded deep-fried chicken head was found in a box of chicken wings purchased at a McDonald's in Newport News, Virginia. Katherine Ortega says she discovered the McNoggin while divvying up the wings at home for her family of four. (Fried chicken wings were being test-marketed in that area.)

On 30 November 2000, the Ortegas announced they had hired a lawyer and were contemplating a lawsuit against McDonald's. Legal experts don't think the family would win an award much higher than a couple of thousand dollars because no one ate the piece or was physically harmed by it. (Even in our litigious society, harm has to be demonstrated, and it's not enough just to claim "I was grossed out by this" to gain the big bucks. A small award to compensate for the shock of the discovery might not be out of order, though.)

Katherine Ortega has posed for a number of photos of her holding the chicken head, which may work against her if she tries to seek compensatory damages for psychological harm arising out of the incident. A jury will have a difficult time believing she is now nauseated by chicken or has difficulty sleeping after being presented with photographic evidence of her repeatedly and voluntarily handling the offensive item.

Those who have taken the photographs note the fried batter on the item looks to be the same as on the chicken wings. The McNoggin, however, has yet to be examined by experts. John E. Smith, owner of the McDonald's in question and two others, states "My ability to conduct a thorough investigation has been delayed because I have not been given an opportunity to examine the object in question. Although I have made several requests to see this object, the customer refuses to give me that opportunity."

An enforcement officer at the U.S. Department of Agriculture who is looking into the case is at a loss to explain how the head ended up in Ortega's order of wings. The first thing that happens in the processing of live chickens into poultry parts is their beheading, with the heads immediately being discarded. The carcasses then go on to the next stage (which is being dropped into the boiling water to de-feather them). Though the process is mostly mechanized, a plant operator helps with evisceration (the removal of the bird's internal organs) and an on-site USDA inspector is supposed to check each and every chicken. How both could have missed a chicken head going through is a mystery.

At this point, not enough is known to determine if anyone is trying to hoax anyone else, if a poultry plant worker or McDonald's employee thought he'd have himself an innocent bit of fun, or if something went severely wrong with the food processing procedures at the plant and thus a McNoggining could happen again. Further information will be provided as soon as it is available.

Call it the McNoggin, Chick Mchead, Mc Heads (The one I use.) how did it wind up on a kid's dinner plate? Now for someone to say it was the USDA's fault is a moron.
USDA has very strict inspection codes. Not to mention that if it did get past one inspector it would have had to get past another then one quailty inspector for the poultry plant and another when they (the wings) are prebattered then another when they are precooked to hold the batter onto the wings, then yet another during packing then it would have to get past a worker cooking and serving the wings.

So how about a worker putting it in?
A disgruntal cook could have placed the McNoggin into the Ortega order. But, I hate to be the cynical one because this looks like Ortega put the thing in herself.

The infamous coffee burn case I refer you to. Look at how she is parading around this thing that caused her such fear and plain "gross outness". Please! She treats the McNoggin like a star showing it off every chance she gets.
Money, an Urban Legend comes true by the craving for money my friends! Till we spook again.-JLB

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Kentucky Fried Mutant and others.