A woman on TikTok accused Trader Joe's of selling fake meat after getting chicken sausage and thighs with a butter-like texture.
TikTok is full of accounts and videos dedicated to Trader Joe's, a grocery store darling, especially among younger generations. People share their favorite TJ's snacks, seasonal items, and easy meals you can put together with the grocer's items.
Influenced by people raving about how good Trader Joe's Shawarma Chicken Thighs—meat that comes pre-marinated—are, Kelly (@mgkellly) decided to pick up a pack, along with a few other items.
For her, it was a big mistake.
"I know the Trader Hoes aren't gonna like me for this one, or they're just not gonna care," Kelly says in the clip. "...Nobody in this world can convince me that that's real chicken."
Kelly shared that aside from the thighs, she also picked up the chicken sausage, but when she went to cut into it before cooking, "it was like cutting into butter."
"The consistency, the texture was weird. It was not like chicken, it was not like sausage. It was like jello or something," Kelly says. So she didn't eat it.
For dinner, she made herself a Mediterranean bowl with the pre-marinated Shawarma Chicken Thighs.
"I brown the sh*t out of my chicken, okay? ... I don't like pale chicken, so there's no way in hell that it was not cooked through," Kelly says.
Yet, the meat wasn't firm like it should be, and she could easily cut into it and shred it apart like string cheese with just a spoon—raising red flags.
She gave the chicken another chance and put it back in the pan to overcook it, but instead of getting tough like an overcooked chicken does, it stayed soft.
"It was giving lab meat," Kelly says.
The video has well over 600,000 views and over 1,500 comments as of Monday morning.
"It’s because it sits in that marinade too long! It basically over brines and gets that soft bouncy texture. I hate it," a commenter explained.
They're right. Across various online food forums, the consensus is clear. Leaving your chicken in brine or marinade for too long will change the texture of the meat.
Most recipes call for meat and poultry to be marinated for six hours up to a full day. While keeping it in the marinade longer is safe, after two days, the marinade may start to break down the meat fibers and make the food mushy, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
While over-marinating is the culprit, Kelly's concerns tie into common fears shared online about the use of "lab-grown meat." However, these warnings have been refuted, as this type of meat is not yet widely available to grocery store providers.
Other commenters told Kelly to avoid getting "real" groceries like produce and meat at Trader Joe's.
"Trader Joe’s is strictly the snack grocery store and frozen stuff lol," a person said.
"Trader joes is great but not for full grocery shopping , I only go for specific items or seasonal," another wrote.
"Trader Joe's is good for 3 things. Snacks, drinks, and charcuterie stuff," a commenter declared.
The Daily Dot reached out to Kelly via Instagram direct message and Trader Joe's via email.
Sign up to receive the Daily Dot’s Internet Insider newsletter for urgent news from the frontline of online.