If you love the taste of fast-food chicken nuggets and also believe “ignorance is bliss,” then you won’t want to read this: Researchers in Mississippi analyzed the chicken nuggets they’d bought from two (unidentified) fast-food outlets in Jackson, and determined that “striated muscle (chicken meat) was not the predominate component in either nugget. Fat was present in equal or greater quantities along with epithelium, bone, nerve, and connective tissue.” In other words, chicken nuggets are mostly chicken fat and body parts.
Lead researcher Dr. Richard D. deShazo of the University of Mississippi Medical Center spoke with Reuters Health about his findings. “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.”
Which is okay if people only eat these nuggets once in awhile; the problem, deShazo said, is that chicken nuggets are so cheap, convenient and tasty, some people eat them multiple times a week.
However, Ashley Peterson of the National Chicken Council pointed out that two chicken nuggets from two unidentified restaurants isn’t a sample size large enough to generalize about the chicken-nugget industry as a whole.
Furthermore, she said, “Every package of chicken nuggets in the grocery store by law contains an ingredient list and a complete nutritional profile, including fat content.”
That, of course, doesn't do anything for the diner who grabs his nuggets at a fast-food outlets.
For his part, deShazo told Reuters that his brief study wasn’t intended to be an expose of the chicken industry, merely another reminder that “not everything that tastes good is good for you.”