According to two University of Mississippi researchers, we shouldn't really call chicken nuggets "chicken." That's because the word "chicken" implies meat, and when the researchers dissected two nuggets (from unnamed fast-food chains, but the Atlantic says one was likely a McDonald's McNugget) and analyzed what they actually contained, well...
- One was 50% muscle (the actual meat) and the other half was mostly fat, along with some blood vessels, some nerves, and "generous quantities of epithelium [from skin of visceral organs] and associated supportive tissue." Totals: 56% fat, 25% carbs, 19% protein. (The breading was not analyzed in either sample.)
- The other was 40% muscle, plus "generous quantities of fat and other tissue, including connective tissue and bone." Totals: 58% fat, 24% carbs, 18% protein.
"Chicken nuggets are mostly fat," the researchers conclude. Adds one, "We've taken a very healthy product—lean, white meat—and processed it, goo-ed it up with fat, sugar, and salt [in the breading]. Kids love that combination." He says he was "astounded" at what he saw, and compares the mix of ingredients to "super glue." Of course, the National Chicken Council begs to differ, with a VP insisting to Reuters that "chicken nuggets are an excellent source of protein, especially for kids who might be picky eaters." And one researcher concedes that some fast-food chains are better than others at using real meat; KFC and Chick-fil-A both claim their nuggets are 100% breast meat. (Read more chicken nugget stories.)