Scientists took a close look at the chicken nugget and discovered
what some may have suspected: it's not full of what we might think of as
A study published online in September in the American Journal of Medicine -- cleverly titled "The Autopsy of Chicken Nuggets Reads 'Chicken Little'"
- revealed that two nuggets from fast food chains in Jackson, Miss.
contained only about half of what we would consider chicken meat.
all know white chicken meat to be one of the best sources of lean
protein available and encourage our patients to eat it," lead author Dr.
Richard D. deShazo of the University of Mississippi Medical Center in
Jackson, said to Reuters.
"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."
For the research, nuggets were preserved, dissected and stained before they were examined under a microscope.
number one was about 50 percent muscle tissue such as from the breast
or thigh, which is what most people think of when they think of chicken
meat. The rest of it was made from fat, blood vessels and nerves,
specifically the cells that line the skin and internal organs of the
Nugget number two was 40 percent muscle. The rest was fat, cartilage and bone.
said the study shows chicken nuggets are actually chicken by-product
consisting of mostly salt, sugar and fat -- all of which are calories.
What's worse, he said, is that they are marketed to kids, especially
because they are tasty and relatively cheap. He said if his
grandchildren asks for nuggets, he compromises by pan frying some
chicken breasts with a little bit of oil.
The researchers are remaining mum on which chains the chicken came from.
Chicken Council (NCC), a non-profit trade group representing the U.S.
chicken industry, told Reuters that chicken nuggets are a great source
of protein and pointed out that the study only looked at two chicken
nuggets. If consumers want to know how much of what component is in
their nugget, most companies either post the nutritional information in
the restaurant or on the packaging.
DeShazo admitted that the
sample size was rather small and that some other companies have changed
their formula to use only white meat in their nuggets.