The morgue attendant’s meatballs in the cooking contest are not made from male body parts

By Jake Sheridan
Chicago Tribune

CARTERVILLE, Ill. — Relax, the meatballs in Carterville are safe. They definitely do not have human body parts, according to the Williamson County Sheriff.

After a viral satirical article falsely claimed a morgue attendant used male flesh to win a spaghetti cooking contest in Carterville, Williamson County Sheriff’s Office Bennie Vick declared “fake news.”

Readers would not have to look far to find the falsehood for themselves, the sheriff’s office said.

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“The fake news was on a fake news website,” Vick’s office said in a Wednesday news release. “The headline on this fake news website reads: ‘News he can count on to defraud him.’ ”

One must hope that readers could have discerned the hoax even if they hadn’t seen the site’s confession poster.

The imaginative piece asserts that a Carterville woman had never been able to do better than second place in the cooking competition. To get over the hurdle and take home the jackpot, the morgue worker collected the testicles of dead men and used them in her plate of meatballs, the fake article said.

Its secret ingredient was discovered when a judge, who returned for a third portion, bit into a prosthetic limb, the fake article continued.

The wholly bogus piece appeared in late July on KVTA4, a website that describes itself as a “manufactured satirical newspaper and comedy website” but is also designed to look like a news website. Facebook users reacted, commented or shared the fake article more than 300,000 times, according to CrowdTangle, a tool for analyzing interactions on the social network.

Some Facebook users didn’t seem to realize the article was fake.

“That may be the most disgusting thing I have ever read,” one user wrote.

“What the hell is going on with the people?” wrote another use in all caps.

“Has the world gone mad. More to come,” said another.

The article has been rewritten and posted on other malicious or satirical websites that share fabricated stories but behave like real media. Fact checker Snopes labeled the piece a satire.

The fake article featured a photo of an apparently arrested woman, who the site claimed was the audacious chef.

“These types of satirical articles about morgues often repurpose real-life mug shots for their fictional stories,” wrote Snopes reporter Jordan Liles.

The sheriff’s office used the spread of the fake article to offer advice on spotting misinformation.

Readers can identify “fake news” by researching sources, paying particular attention to a suspicious site’s contact page, “about” page or article URL, the sheriff’s office wrote. They can also check to see if other sites are reporting the story and should watch out for sloppy writing, the sheriff’s office said.

While readers can identify misinformation, they won’t be able to identify who has the best spaghetti in the small southern Illinois town: The fake article didn’t say who won the cooking contest.

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