I am aware that I am less than some people prefer me to be,
but most people are unaware that I am so much more than what they see.
— Douglas Pagels

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Friends don't let friends eat Chicken McNuggets

Ingredients in a chicken mcnugget from the McDonalds website:

Chicken McNuggets®:
White boneless chicken, water, food starch-modified, salt, chicken flavor (autolyzed yeast extract, salt, wheat starch, natural flavoring (botanical source), safflower oil, dextrose, citric acid, rosemary), sodium phosphates, seasoning (canola oil, mono- and diglycerides, extractives of rosemary). Battered and breaded with: water, enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), yellow corn flour, food starch-modified, salt, leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, calcium lactate), spices, wheat starch, whey, corn starch. Prepared in vegetable oil ((may contain one of the following: Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness), dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent).

There has been much debate over the Chicken McNugget for years now, including a book that came out a couple years ago which went as far as to suggest that McNuggets cause cancer as well as contain lighter fluid. I decided to do my own research, and here is what I found:

I found that they made a couple of changes to the ingredients over the past 4 years: They eliminated dark meat, and removed triglycerides from the list (although mono and diglycerides are still used). As of 2007, it is being reported by a multitude of websites that chicken mcnuggets are 56 percent corn-derived products, which includes the chicken flavoring and seasoning itself and not just the breading (see "natural flavoring of a botanical source" in the ingredient list above...that's there McLanguage for it). There are a total of 38 ingredients in the mcnugget as a whole, with a variety of phosphates being used to hold the mcnugget together. The ingredients that are sparking the most debate are TBHQ and dimethylpolysiloxane. Dimethylpolysiloxane is a chemical that prevents the nugget from foaming when heated. I haven't done any research on this ingredient. TBHQ, however, is Tert-BUTYLHYDROQUINONE, a petroleum bi-product and type of phenol that is used as a preservative. A few sites, including the book that I mentioned, suggest that TBHQ is butane, aka lighter fluid. That is incorrect, although it's not too terribly far off. There have been reports of TBHQ being a carcinogen, so I dug a little deeper and pulled up some lab reports, which can be found HERE.

In reading the report, I found that TBHQ as well as BHT (also a preservative) tested positive in carcinogenic behavior in a variety of animals including rats, hamsters, and dogs. It also tested positive for mutation of DNA cells, lymph nodes, as well as cells of the lungs and ovaries. The FDA has approved TBHQ and BHT as preservatives in mechanically processed foods such as mcnuggets, but gives a limit to the amount that can be used due to the risks found in research studies.

For the record, their other fried chicken products contain many of these ingredients as well, including TBHQ.

From previous research on free-range chicken vs chicken with phosphates and other additives, I found two U.S. brands that are 100 percent chicken with no hormones or phosphates: Tyson and Sanderson Farms. I'm not sure about Pilgrim's Pride but I think they are also free range.

Just thought I would share the wealth. Be well, everyone.