One word sums up the hidden ingredients in those ubiquitous chicken nuggets at fast food restaurants: Yuck. When researchers investigated the popular chicken nuggets at two national chains, they found that most of them contained less than 50 percent chicken, with blood, nerves, bone, fat, skin and other disgusting ingredients contributing to the rest, reported the New York Daily News on October 4.
Researchers from the University of Mississippi scrutinized the nuggets under a microscope to provide the analysis. Their findings included:
- Blood vessels
- 50 percent or less chicken muscle tissue (breast or thigh meat)
- Cells that line the skin and internal organs of chickens
One of the chicken nuggets that they dissected consisted of only 40 percent muscle. The rest of that nugget was made with fat, cartilage and pieces of bone.
"We all know white chicken meat to be one of the best sources of lean protein available and encourage our patients to eat it," pointed out lead author Dr. Richard D. deShazo of the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.
"What has happened is that some companies have chosen to use an artificial mixture of chicken parts rather than low-fat chicken white meat, batter it up and fry it and still call it chicken," added deShazo.
He was particularly concerned that chicken nuggets are marketed to children.
"It is really a chicken by-product high in calories, salt, sugar and fat that is a very unhealthy choice. Even worse, it tastes great and kids love it and it is marketed to them," he noted.
And the message that the University of Mississippi researchers wanted to send to consumers: Buyer beware.
"Not everything that tastes good is good for you," deShazo added.
Well, at least now we know why so many fast food chains push those chicken nugget dipping sauces...