The remainder of the nugget is made up of fat, skin, connective tissue, blood vessels, nerves and bone fragments, Dr. Richard deShazo, distinguished professor of medicine, pediatrics and immunology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, reports in the latest edition of the American Journal of Medicine.
According to Michelle Castillo of CBS News, Dr. deShazo purchased the nuggets at two unidentified fast food restaurants in Jackson, Mississippi. Each of the nuggets were preserved, dissected, stained and then examined under a microscope. The first was roughly 50 percent muscle tissue, while the second was just 40 percent meat.
“DeShazo said the study shows chicken nuggets are actually chicken by-product consisting of mostly salt, sugar and fat – all of which are calories,” Castillo added. “What’s worse, he said, is that they are marketed to kids, especially because they are tasty and relatively cheap. He said if his grandchildren asks for nuggets, he compromises by pan frying some chicken breasts with a little bit of oil.”
“I was floored. I had read what other reports have said is in them and I didn’t believe it. I was astonished actually seeing it under the microscope,” the doctor told UPI. “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. It is really a chicken by-product… that is a very unhealthy choice.”
DeShazo assured that chicken nuggets are perfectly fine, as long as they are only consumed occasionally as part of a healthy diet. He said that it was essential for people to distribute their caloric intake across a diet that includes adequate amounts of lean protein, green vegetables and fresh fruit. The doctor added that it was essential for people to eat a balanced diet, and to avoid obesity by limiting the amount of fat and carbohydrates they consume.
Ashley Peterson, vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs for the National Chicken Council (NCC), a non-profit organization representing the US chicken industry, told Reuters Health that she believed that the two nugget sample size used in Dr. DeShazo’s study is too small to apply to an entire group of products.
“Chicken nuggets are an excellent source of protein, especially for kids who might be picky eaters,” Peterson explained to Kathryn Doyle of the news organization. “This study evaluates only two chicken nugget samples out of the billions of chicken nuggets that are made every year.”
“Chicken nuggets tend to have an elevated fat content because they are breaded and fried. But it’s no secret what is in a chicken nugget – most quick service restaurants have nutritional information posted in the store or on their website,” she added. “And every package of chicken nuggets in the grocery store by law contains an ingredient list and a complete nutritional profile, including fat content.”