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Study Finds Chicken Nuggets are Hardly Chicken…

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McDonalds-Chicken-McNuggets Have you ever wondered what exactly is in a nugget? Researchers at the University of Mississippi Medical Center recently asked that very question, and decided to take it upon themselves to find out. Their findings, which were recently published in The American Journal of Medicine, were alarming.

What Did They Find?

Not much of what we typically think of as meat. In other words, the investigators discovered that in the nuggets they examined, 50 percent or less of their contents was actually composed of chicken muscle tissues, such as thigh or breast meat. The remaining contents of the nuggets contained a mixture of blood vessels, fat, cartilage, nerves, and even pieces of bone. Dr. Richard D. de Shazo, the lead author of the study, described the nuggets as “a chicken by-product high in calories, salt, sugar and fat that is a very unhealthy choice.”

In order to make this determination, the researchers first preserved the nuggets, then dissected and stained them. Finally, they evaluated the nuggets’ components through the use of a microscope. The study was admittedly limited in that only two nuggets were examined, but these nuggets were randomly selected from two different, unnamed restaurant chains, and are likely representative of the types of materials that are often present in chicken nuggets.

Let This Be A Reminder

While this investigation may have been limited in nature, it still serves as a powerful reminder about the dangers of eating unknown foods. Furthermore, it comes on the heels of similarly upsetting studies in the past few years, including the infamous “pink slime” fiasco of 2012 involving a number of restaurants, grocery stores, and food manufacturers. The research highlights the fact that as our society moves further and further into an era of , it is becoming more and more important to make good choices.

Signs of Progress?

Fortunately, recent government legislation is taking steps to aid the process of making such choices. The Safe Meat and Act of 2013, introduced last month, would take great strides toward making the contents of these types of products known. This bill, if passed, would grant meat and workers legal protection if they chose to come forward about any dangerous contents in the products they help to produce. This legislation is greatly needed in light of existing anti-whistleblower laws, which have made it difficult, if not impossible, for workers to come forward in the past.

Hopefully this proposed legislation will become law, ultimately resulting in better practices in the and healthier foods for consumers. But in the meantime (and in general for that matter), think carefully about the foods you choose to eat.


Derek is a technical writer and editor with 10 years of experience in the health care field, having first earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Delaware. He is a contributing author on a number of textbooks in the medical field, ran a nuclear cardiology licensing course, and has written a variety of other pieces from online training courses to medical software manuals. Derek pursues his personal interest in health and wellness by playing multiple sports and running marathons. An insatiable traveler, he spent 16 months working and living abroad while traveling through South America, Europe, and Southeast Asia.



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Article updated on: October 31st, 2013

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One Response to “ Study Finds Chicken Nuggets are Hardly Chicken… ”

  1. Greg Sails on November 8, 2013 at 4:58 AM

    Fast food dives hardly purvey food at all. They feed customers garbage to keep up profit margins. I’d sooner go hungry than eat a McDonalds hamburger- loaded with every cheap piece of beef swept up from the slaughterhouse floor. Having grown up when fast food was just getting off the ground, I was friends with kids who worked in them before they covered up what they were passing off as food. They’re not fast food, but junk food places.