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Modern Parenthood

Chicken nuggets: You won't believe what's in them, again

Chicken nuggets are a kid staple, but a new study reveals that only half of each nugget contains actual meat. Will kids care?

By Correspondent / October 8, 2013

Chicken nuggets: Researchers in Mississippi find that chicken nuggets sold by some fast food chains contain only 40 to 50 percent muscle; the rest is fat, cartilage, and pieces of bone.

Eric Risberg/AP/File


If you want a really scary kid favorite for the Halloween table forget making Jell-O worms and pick up some fast food chicken nuggets; according to a study by Mississippi researchers, some brands contain enough creepy-crawly chicken parts to send chills up the parental spine.

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Lisa Suhay, who has four sons at home in Norfolk, Va., is a children’s book author and founder of the Norfolk (Va.) Initiative for Chess Excellence (NICE) , a nonprofit organization serving at-risk youth via mentoring and teaching the game of chess for critical thinking and life strategies.

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For the record, we knew about this back in 2010 when parents first saw the viral photos of extruded pink goop known as MSP (mechanically separated poultry) which according to the USDA is made by mechanically separating eyes, organs, cartilage, and other scraps from carcasses and processing the sludge with salt and flavor additives into chicken nuggets kids love.

Yet researchers in Mississippi are still able to shock the world with the news that samples taken from two fast food chains in Jackson were 40-50 percent muscle, and the remainder was fat, cartilage, and pieces of bone. McDonald's switched to all white meat back in 2003.

So technically it is “chicken” just not any of the parts we would ever choose to serve to our children.

"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," lead author Dr. Richard D. deShazo of the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, told Reuters Health.

The truth hurts even more as deShazo points out the obvious, "It is really a chicken by-product high in calories, salt, sugar, and fat that is a very unhealthy choice. Even worse, it tastes great and kids love it and it is marketed to them."

I will never forget watching chef Jamie Oliver do his famous chicken nugget experiment which “never fails” on kids in the U.K., as it completely tanked when tried on American children back in 2012.

Mr. Oliver painstakingly demonstrated for a group of elementary school kids how fast food nuggets are made. He chopped up a raw chicken, removed all the “good meat” we normally use and held up the carcass. The kids all squealed in disgust.


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