It’s hard to argue that chicken nuggets aren’t actually chicken, because they certainly are. The real question consumers should be asking is what part of the chicken? Researchers from the University of Mississippi recently conducted a study in which they examined the chicken nuggets from two famous fast food chain restaurants in Jackson, Miss.. Their findings suggest that only about half of the product was actual muscle tissue from the chicken’s breast of thigh.
The mystery meat from the first chicken nugget was filled blood vessels, nerve endings, and other inedible byproducts of the chicken. The second chicken nugget the researchers tested had even less chicken than the first sample. The chicken nugget from the second national chain contained only 40% muscle tissue with the rest of the filler being made up of cartilage and bone.
Lead researcher, Dr. Richard D. deShazo tells 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.”
According to Dr. deShazo, it is okay to indulge in junk food once in a while, just don’t make a habit out of it. While the names of the fast food restaurants have not been disclosed, it's safe to assume that junk food, as a whole, should probably be avoided.
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Since the release of the study, the National Chicken Council (NCC) quickly responded. Ashley Peterson, Vice President of the NCC's scientific and regulatory affairs says "Chicken nuggets are an excellent source of protein, especially for kids who might be picky eaters." According to Reuters, Peterson also goes on to defend the chicken products by suggesting that the sample size of the study conducted in to small to generalize to an entire industry. Although, that may be true, the effects of long-term consumption of misleading products is still unknown.