What’s in a chicken nugget? American scientist suggests only 50 per cent meat

TORONTO – What’s in a chicken nugget? If you think it’s all white meat and some breading, an American scientist is suggesting you’re wrong.

After conducting his own “autopsy” into chicken nuggets from two unnamed fast food restaurants, Dr. Richard deShazo says that the finger food is actually made with only 40 to 50 per cent meat. The rest? It’s all fat, skin, connective tissue, blood vessels, nerves and bone fragments.

“I was floored. I had read what other reports have said is in them and I didn’t believe it. I was astonished actually seeing it under a microscope,” deShazo, a medicine and pediatrics professor at the University of Mississippi, said.

“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,” he said in a statement.

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White chicken meat is a great source of lean protein. Chicken by-product, which deShazo claims is used in nuggets, is high in calories, salt, sugar and fat.

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“Even worse, it tastes great and kids love it and it is marketed to them,” he said.

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His complete findings were published in the American Journal of Medicine. Read the study here.

DeShazo collaborated with a pathologist, Dr. Steven Bigler, for his study. They stained, sliced and analyzed the nuggets. They wouldn’t say where the nuggets came from, though.

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(Supplied photo)

In a statement to Global News, McDonald’s said that the study is not referring to its McNuggets.

“The fact is McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets are made using white breast meat chicken. We do not use dark meat, organ meats, cartilage or bone in our Chicken McNuggets,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

She said the only chicken in the nugget is white breast meat, with a bit of chicken skin for flavour. The breading is a crunchy tempura batter. She couldn’t tell Global the “exact recipe for competitive reasons.”

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Its website says McNuggets are made with “USDA-inspected white meat.” Meanwhile, Burger King says its nuggets are made with “premium white meat” and Wendy’s also says “our nuggets are made with all white-meat.”

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The National Chicken Council in the U.S. told Reuters that nuggets are an “excellent source” of protein, especially for picky eaters.

“This study evaluates only two chicken nugget samples out of the billions of chicken nuggets that are made every year,” Ashley Peterson, vice president of the organization told the wire service.

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DeShazo said fast-food chains aren’t necessarily misleading their consumers, it’s just that diners need to consider what’s on their plate when they’re eating out.

“We just don’t take the time to understand basic nutritional facts – this is a health literacy issue – and to push back when our kids and grandkids, who do not know the risks of being obese, beg for unhealthy foods,” he said.

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