TASTY TREAT: Fat, skin, connective tissue, blood vessels, nerves, bone fragments
There's not a lot of chicken in chicken nuggets, experts find
This may put you off your favorite midnight snack after a late night visit to the drive-thru. It's been proven that there's not a lot of chicken in what we loosely define as "chicken nuggets." In fact, the majority of it is fat, skin, connective tissue, blood vessels, nerves and bone fragments. Sorry if this wrecked your lunch.
Don't get this wrong. All of the above ingredients, bone shards and all, are safe to eat - but understandably don't give the consumer good nutrition.
"I was floored," Dr. Richard deShazo, a professor of medicine, pediatrics and immunology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center where the analysis took place says. "I had read what other reports have said is in them, and I didn't believe it. I was astonished actually seeing it under the microscope."
White chicken meat is ostensibly one of the healthier fast foods options out there. An excellent source of lean protein available, doctors often encourage their patients to eat it.
"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. 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 said.
Working with Dr. Steven Bigler, a pathologist at Baptist Health Systems in Jackson, Mississippi, deShazo stained, fixed, sliced and analyzed the nugget sections.
The physicians reported that meat constituted about half of nugget No. 1.
"The nugget from the first restaurant was composed of approximately 50 percent skeletal muscle, with the remainder composed primarily of fat, with some blood vessels and nerve present. Higher-power views showed generous quantities of epithelium and associated supportive tissue including squamous epithelium from skin or viscera," they wrote.
"The nugget from the second restaurant was composed of approximately 40 percent skeletal muscle. Here, too, there were generous quantities of fat and other tissue, including connective tissue and bone spicules."
DeShazo says that the study wasn't intended as a comprehensive study of nuggets from all major fast-food chains. Nor do the results from two randomly selected nuggets from two prominent chains represent all chicken nugget offerings available.
The National Chicken Council representing the U.S. chicken industry backs up these claims.
"This study evaluates only two chicken nugget samples out of the billions of chicken nuggets that are made every year," Ashley Peterson, Ph.D., the NCC vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs said.
"It is not scientifically justifiable to make inferences about an entire product category given a sample size of two."
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