A recipe video showing a woman making a salad with two-year-old chicken is leaving some on social media feeling a little queasy.
Mother-of-eight Pam Parish took to TikTok to share the easy-to-make dish with her followers. The resulting clip racked up more than 10 million views though the big talking point from the video was the fact Pam used chicken first sealed into a jar back in March 2020.
According to the CDC, Americans eat chicken more than any other meat. But while it’s often viewed as a healthier option than many red meats, it does come with its own risks.
Raw or under-cooked chicken can often contain campylobacter, salmonella and clostridium perfringens bacteria which can lead to food-borne illness, more colloquially known as food poisoning.
With the CDC estimating that around 1 million people in the US get sick every year as a result of eating contaminated poultry, it’s perhaps understandable to see many expressing caution about Pam’s methods in the viral video.
In the clip, Pam can be seen breaking the seal on her jar of chicken before reaching in and removing a chicken thigh, which appears pink at one end.
In fact, much of the meat that comes out of the jar appears to have a pink, almost tuna fish like quality, while Pam makes a point of giving the skin from the chicken to her dog telling viewers the canine “loves it.”
She then mixes together “egg yolk, mayo and pickle juice” before pouring it over the top of her chicken along with some diced boiled eggs, pickles and dill. The mixture is then placed on some cauliflower rounds which are topped with cheese and toasted. Showing viewers the end result, Pam declares: “look how yummy.”
Some on social media weren’t quite so sure though. MyNameIsAries commented: “This ruined my night,” with Melissa Ramnarine adding “this gives me chills no way I’m eating that.”
Beth.hxnt said: “This is why you don’t eat at other people’s houses,” while hakunahataka wondered: “is this a late April Fool’s Joke?” Mason Blake, meanwhile, declared: “I feel ill,” with Brahmitzvah admitting: “I literally could not watch this.”
Despite the many negative remarks, there were plenty who sought to defend Pam’s methods. Shelbsleeann said: “This is literally 10,000 times healthier than canned chicken at the store.” Doodoo.fart42069 agreed, commenting: “I don’t know why so many have issues with canning and pickling my family does it to nearly everything.”
NotSweetland, meanwhile, was a convert to the concept, writing: “I was mad until I used my brain and googled… chicken can last up to 3-5 years on shelf room temp depending on the prep.”
Even so, some like Jessica8516 remained conflicted. “Logically, my brain knows the food is safe because of the storing method,” she explained. “However, my brain is also 8,000% horrified (I’m sorry !!)”
Eager to clarify things, Pam returned to TikTok in a series of videos addressing some of the concerns.
“A lot of the comments are a misunderstanding of what ‘canning’ is,” she explained. “I grew up in a family that hunted for meat. We were pretty poor growing up. We didn’t have a lot of freezer space, so you canned the meat so that it was shelf stable.”
Shelf-stable or ambient food refers to a type of food that can be safely stored at room temperature in a sealed container.
Pam said she was not surprised by some of the responses. “I get it. I’m grossed out when I see someone eating shrimp. This isn’t for everybody, not everybody understands it, but it is a way of preserving food and it does last for years,” she said.
She also dismissed any suggestion the chicken was raw, explaining that it was boiled for three hours and is “pink because it was the chicken thigh.” All of her jars are sanitized in an oven set at 200 degrees for 30 minutes while the chicken is also cooked for a further 10 minutes after it comes out of the jar.
Pam said her dog, Oreo, loved the chicken skin and “actually ate almost all of it” with the rest finished off by her cat. She also said that chicken can stay fresh inside a sealed jar for up to five years.
Pam added that she has always enjoyed home-canned meat which saves her money and offers a healthy alternative to something like a frozen pizza when the family wants an easily cooked meal.
She did acknowledge that water-bath canning was “very controversial” though she added it had “always” been done that way in her family. “Water-bath canning absolutely can be done very safely with meat and it’s been done all of my life,” Pam said.
That contradicts the advice of Jill Winger, the founder of The Prairie Homestead, a website dedicated to helping people learn how to grow and manage their food.
Winger told readers they must not use a water bath canner for canning chicken. “Chicken is a low-acid food, which is unsafe to can in a water bath canner,” she wrote. “You MUST use a pressure canner for canning chicken.”
This concurs with the official CDC advice, which states: “Do not use a boiling water canner for low-acid foods because it will not protect against botulism.”
Responding to the concern expressed over her methods, Pam added that she has recently purchased a pressure canner and is planning to use it in the future.
Newsweek has contacted Pam for comment.