I saw this picture yesterday and it took me on a little trip down memory lane. Memories of strawberry frozen yogurt from TCBY. Mmmmm, there's nothing like some old frozen yogurt to brighten a child's day. But alas, this picture is not yogurt. In fact, it's chicken. Chicken?!?!?! Doesn't look like chicken to me. Who would eat chicken that looks like that? That's just nasty. It ain't natural!
So, my inquiring mind wanted to know how on Earth chicken got to look like that, and who are the poor unsuspecting saps to whom it is fed. I didn't like what I learned, not one little bit. As it turns out, what you see in this picture is what ultimately becomes chicken nuggets. Hmm, I wonder why this picture doesn't make it into the commercials of our fabulous fast food restaurants?
Chicken nuggets rarely contain white meat. The remaining parts of the chicken, the dark meat and a host of undesirable parts, are sent through a grinder, rinsed in ammonia (due to the large amounts of bacteria), and then artifically flavored and colored. Did you catch that? Ammonia, ARTIFICAL FLAVOR AND COLOR? Why on EARTH would you have to change the flavor? Oh, maybe to cover up the ammonia taste or the taste of the "undesirable" parts of the chicken. The lovely video below shows this process in detail. Yum, yum. Enjoy.
Some chicken nuggets have a host of other ingredients that are VERY troubling. "In 2003, McDonald’s launched smaller, all-white-meat McNuggets after a federal judge dubbed the food “a McFrankenstein creation of various elements not utilized by the home cook." Among the ingredients that remained in the new McNuggets: tBHQ and dimethylpolysiloxane" http://pagingdrgupta.blogs.cnn.com/2010/06/25/a-tale-of-2-nuggets/?hpt=Sbin
Full ingredient list for a Chicken McNugget (from McDonald’s website):
White boneless chicken, water, food starch-modified, salt, seasoning (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 (Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness). Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent.
Just in case you don't know the meaning of some of the ingredients mentioned above, let me enlighten you!
Dimethylpolysiloxane, the antifoaming agent, is silicone and is also found in silly putty and cosmetics. How about TBHQ which is used as a chemical preservative? Ever heard of it? Well, TBHQ is a petroleum-based product and a form of butane (AKA lighter fluid). According to “A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives, "One gram can cause nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, delirium, a sense of suffocation, and collapse.” The allowed amount of TBHQ in the oil for nuggets is .02. The claim is this amount does not cause harm. But do we really want to feed ANY amout of silicone or butane to our precious, trusting children or even ourselves? Have you ever heard anyone say, "I really love butane, but I just can't eat very much of it."?
Funny thing is that in Europe, McDonalds developed chicken nuggets that do not contain either Dimethylpolysiloxane or TBHQ. Amazing huh? Europe has stricter regulations regarding food. I guess McDonald's will rise to the occasion for financial gain. Why can't McDonalds offer this same McNugget in America? Whatever the reason, as consumers we must educate ourselves about the food we eat.
We should stand up and DEMAND better for our children. It would actually be quite simple: stop buying them. If enough of us do that, McDonald's will get the picture. If I'm the only one who does it, at least I'll be healthier. Something tells me I can make it without McNuggets.
Our children can't make choices about the food they eat. As parents, we make the choices for them. They trust us. I feel like I owe it to my children to provide them with the best of everything. This includes the food they eat and their nutrition. This is a daunting task in our fast food culture that has changed the way food is raised and handled. I can't be so trusting, at least not in the food choices I make. I must search out the information on my own. And when I learn something I don't like, I must be willing to vote with my dollars. The mighty dollar is a powerful incentive for change, either positive or negative. My kids are depending on me. If I don't make healthy changes, they will eventually pay a high price with their health and quality of life.
Homemade chicken nuggets: time 15 minutes, ingredients: organic chicken breast, flour, egg, salt, pepper, paprika, and grapeseed oil (or organic canola) for frying. Happy little person!
sources: http://pagingdrgupta.blogs.cnn.com/2010/06/25/a-tale-of-2-nuggets/?hpt=Sbin, http://gizmodo.com/5659271/behind-the-chicken-goop-the-truth-and-science-of-chicken-nuggets