Thursday, October 24, 2013

Chicken Nuggets Secrets: Mystery Ingredients, Dog Food Parts, Profits Galore

Chicken nuggets, a food scientist's invention first sold in 1980, are a gargantuan American industrial-foods sales success far beyond the initial imaginations of even fake-food corporate executives. 

Billions of chicken nuggets have been sold in every U.S. supermarket, served in all family-style restaurants, and are essentials on fast-food menus.  

First and foremost, chicken nuggets are widely seen as healthier kid-friendly options than greasy cheeseburgers in spongy white-bread buns.   Nuggets are purposely formed to fit a kid's hand. Compact, easy to hold and handle, ubiquitous in generic taste and look... nuggets are a perfect, extra-fast food for even the fussiest kids and busiest families. A no-brainer when ordering or fixing a quick meal while on-the-run.

Parents feel good about ordering McDonald's Mighty Kids Meals with chicken nuggets, apple slices, less fries, and milk for their children. Chicken nuggets are viewed by parents as the white meat alternative to red-meat health concerns, first voiced in 1977 by the federal government.

Problem is, chicken nuggets aren't all that healthy. And per a new American Journal of Medicine article, chicken nuggets are made of only about 40% to 50% actual chicken "meat."  

Ordering chicken nuggets for kids might be a convenient no-brainer. But switching on skeptical parental brains would reveal the inconvenient reality that these golden industrial-made orbs are:
  • Highly processed, machine-formed lumps 
  • Dipped in mystery batter
  • Fried or deep fried.
  • Chocked with invisible ingredients
McDonald's Chicken McNuggets, for instance, contain 25 ingredients, including heavy doses of salt, fat, and sugar, and chemical additives, preservatives, and flavor enhancers. That's before salty, sugary dipping sauces. 

And the chicken in chicken nuggets? Only about 18% of a nugget is actual meat protein, per two doctors at the University of Mississippi Medical Center." The rest of the "meat" in a chicken nuggets? A slurry of chicken parts, similar to pink slime, made of ground:
  • Fat
  • Blood vessels
  • Bones
  • Nerve cells, connective tissues
In short, "stuff that usually ends up in dog food," per NPR. Chicken nuggets would be accurately be tagged as "fat nuggets," commented Dr. Richard deShazo, professor of pediatics and one of the article's authors. 

Those chicken nuggets you serve to your beloved brood? Not much more than pulverized chicken leftovers (plus a smidge of actual meat), mixed with fat, salt, and sugar, and topped with a big dollop of the usual chemicals found in highly processed, highly profitable meat products.  

My suggestion? If the kids crave chicken nuggets, a better, far healthier idea is to create them at home. Recipes abound, including more than a dozen delicious, easy, free ideas at

Meanwhile, don't fool yourself that industrial-made chicken nuggets are healthy kid-friendly food options. They're not. Fast-food and supermarket chicken nuggets are just one more fake-food industrial product larded with addicting fat, salt and sugar, and loaded with chemical additives, emulsifiers, preservatives, and fillers. 

And billions in corporate profits.  


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