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Study Reveals what Really Makes up Fast Food Chicken Nuggets

Elizabeth Renter
November 12th, 2013
Updated 05/07/2014 at 1:47 pm
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chicken nuggets art 263x163 Study Reveals what Really Makes up Fast Food Chicken Nuggets

Chicken Nuggets, from artist Banksy’s 2008 installation “The Village Pet Store and Charcoal Grill” in New York City. Image from

Recently, a study made waves when it revealed fast food chicken nuggets are a whole lot less chicken meat and much more “other” in construction. But the research shouldn’t come as a surprise. The fast food industry is able to offer gut-busting meals at rock-bottom prices and you better believe it isn’t because they are cutting into their profits. It’s because they are using cheap, and sometimes toxic ingredients.

The latest study came from some the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Study author and professor of pediatrics and medicine Dr. Richard deShazo and his team selected two fast food restaurants in their town and ordered chicken nuggets off the menu. Then, they randomly selected one nugget from each bag and dissected it to determine what it was actually made of.

Sample one was only 40% skeletal muscle, what we think of when we think of “meat”. The other sample was 50% meat. What made up the rest of the nuggets? Bones, blood vessels, connective tissue, nerves, and fat—“the stuff that usually ends up in dog food,” as NPR so aptly put it.

Video: 14-Year-Old Mcdonald’s Burger Virtually Unchanged

While the sample size for the study was admittedly small at only two nuggets, the researchers say their goal wasn’t an exposé on the fast food industry,but  rather to show parents and children alike that what is touted as healthful isn’t always so.

“We all know white chicken meat to be one of the best sources of lean protein available and encourage our patients to eat it,” said Dr. deShazo. “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.”

While chicken nuggets seem to be children’s first fast-food love, they are far from the only ones that contain mystery ingredients. How else could these giant corporations afford to sell consumers double cheeseburgers for only $1?

These “burgers” are often a mixture of meat, fat, bone, and connective tissue along with ammonium hydroxide (pink slime). You may even find some MSG or autolyzed yeast extract along with dimethylpolysiloxane, a silicone product used in breast implants and silly putty. What’s more, the burgers could be as little as 2% actual meat.

So you see, the “value” menu is not what it’s cracked up to be. These food makers would never cut into their bottom line to serve you more affordable food. On the contrary, they’ll just swap out real food for cheap and barely-edible ingredients.

From around the web:

  • dave

    We should also mention the antibiotics that they inject into these poor animals only for the purpose to speed up growth. These antibiotic getting into our systems from eating these food like foods, may weaken our immune system and/or create super-bugs. Problems our future does not need.

  • Brian

    The meat is adulterated and bad, yes. And so are the other ingredients that make up fast food. Unless one is used to it, why do you feel bad after eating it? Consider also the “wheat” used for the buns and the hidden, addictive wheat in many other things. I got completely off of wheat/gluten/gliadin and still can’t believe how my digestive ailments vanished. The weight too. And what’s in those sauces, other than massive, GMO laden calories, is anyone’s best guess.

  • Valerie Mayfield

    So glad I have been on a plant based diet for the past two years and every illness is gone and I can’t believe I use to take my grandson out for any fast food, I cook and we eat lots of veggies and fruits and no longer even desire any kind of meat or dairy… it is all garbage for the body.. they should call it a sad meal!

  • Mike Wood

    Even before it was news that fast food consisted of junk ingredients, we new it was junk. You know the cliche; “you are what you eat.”

  • Dawn Owens

    How much time will it take before we realize we need to be vegetarians and stop butchering millions of animals every day of the year on this planet? These animals we’re eating are being fed poison.

  • Behning Brad

    I have eaten at Mc Donald’s a few times this year and each time I have gotten ill or gotten a runny ass. I’m done with fast food….

  • Fed Up

    The sky is falling. Let’s see. You can take oyster shell calcium supplements. A T-Bone steak has not been stripped of nerves, blood vessels, etc., and neither is fried or grilled chicken quarters. I like some local hot links. They’re delicious. They also are all beef in that one ingredient is beef lymph nodes.

    • cazie

      And that meat is full of growth hormone and antibiotics that the animal was given while alive-same with all our factory farmed fruit and vegies..loaded with any number of harmful veggies. Why do you think you feel so crappy on a regular basis???

  • Dominic De Falco

    ammonium hydroxide (pink slime), dimethylpolysiloxane, a silicone are also the two main ingredients in the meat from companies that come to your home trying to offer you some exceptional deal on a bunch of crap! You know those guys, the ones with their little beat up pickups with old beat up coolers and such tied down to the bed!

    • John S. Bliss

      A friend bought some steaks from one of those guys. He was all proud of them. Had a BBQ and invited everyone over. The steaks were not edible. Had to grab some hot dogs and also make burgers. Fed the steaks to the dogs.

      • Dominic De Falco

        Pretty much how I found out what was in them. Same situation that turned real embarrassing. Took a frozen raw one to the University here and found out is was full of food grade silicone. Disgusting and never again will I buy such crap!