Ever wonder what was really in McDonald’s “Chicken” Nuggets?

It’s sure not food. Here’s what’s in it, straight from the horse’s mouth:

White boneless chicken, water, food starch-modified, salt, seasoning [yeast extract, salt, wheat starch, natural flavoring (botanical source), safflower oil, dextrose, citric acid], sodium phosphate, natural flavor (botanical source). Battered and breaded with: water, enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), yellow corn flour, bleached wheat flour, food starch-modified, salt, leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, calcium lactate), spices, wheat starch, dextrose, 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.


Hmmm…so McDonnald’s is claiming (which they do on the nutritional information) that their nuggets contain zero trans fats. But, it says right there in the laundry lists of ingredients that it contains hydrogenated soybean oil? Hold up, isn’t that trans fats? What actually is a trans fat? Good question. We hear about them all the time, but what is it exactly? Well, here’s what the American Heart Association has to say:

Trans fats (or trans fatty acids) are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid.  Another name for trans fats is “partially hydrogenated oils.”  Look for them on the ingredient list on food packages.

So that still begs the question, why are they (and not just McDonalds but industry wise-all food manufacturing companies) are allowed to claim that a products contains ZERO trans fats if they clearly do? The rule is that IF a product has less than .5 grams PER serving than food manufactures are legally allowed to say they don’t contain any. Guess how large one serving of nuggest are- Just 2.3 oz. Now I’m not sure about you but that doesn’t seem like a meals worth to me. Oh for the record, trans fats are what lowers our good cholesterol and raises our bad. It also contributes to type 2 diabetes, which goes hand in hand with heart disease. Other types of fats and oils to avoid are vegetable oil and the once touted as healthy oil canola oil, which comes rancid straight from the shelf.

But don’t let trans fats give fat in general a bad name. Good fats are coconut oil, grass-fed butter and ghee, cold pressed olive oil, and animal fats from grass-fed meat (tallow is superb for frying and lard is great for pie crusts and the like). Our bodies NEED them and if we don’t get enough healthy fats than our bodies are not able to metabolize the foods that we eat. This causes a lot of the starches and other foods to just get converted into fat to hang around. The reason for this is because our bodies know that we need a fair amount of fat so it will hold it hostage so to speak.

Getting the proper amount of healthy fats also helps to cut down on sugar cravings, which is yet another thing that leads to diabetes; especially white refined sugar and corn sugar (HFCS). Another benefit to having plenty of fats is that you get fuller faster and don’t need to eat as much to be satisfied. So you’re not overeating which is yet another thing that leads to weight gain.

Back to the nuggets…

Now, I’m not sure about you but I had no idea what TBHQ was so I looked it up. Come to find out that it is a cosmetic form of petroleum-yup-Butane. Oh YUMMY! “Pass the lighter fluid Mom!, but don’t forget the sauce with HFCS!” Sure they soak the corn in battery acid but that’s ok right? And that’s not all that’s bad about corn sugar. Did you know that it contains MERCURY? What the HECK! Here is an excerpt from The Washington Post published in Jan. of 2009 that talks about just that.

Almost half of tested samples of commercial high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) contained mercury, which was also found in nearly a third of 55 popular brand-name food and beverage products where HFCS is the first- or second-highest labeled ingredient, according to two new U.S. studies…In the first study, published in current issue of Environmental Health, researchers found detectable levels of mercury in nine of 20 samples of commercial HFCS.

And in the second study, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), a non-profit watchdog group, found that nearly one in three of 55 brand-name foods contained mercury. The chemical was found most commonly in HFCS-containing dairy products, dressings and condiments. 

This is from “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Micheal Pollan with regards to TBHQ:

‘But perhaps the most alarming ingredient in a Chicken McNugget is tertiary butylhydroquinone, or TBHQ, an antioxidant derived from petroleum that is either sprayed directly on the nugget or the inside of the box it comes in to “help preserve freshness.” According to A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives, TBHQ is a form of butane (i.e. lighter fluid) the FDA allows processors to use sparingly in our food: It can comprise no more than 0.02 percent of the oil in a nugget. Which is probably just as well, considering that ingesting a single gram of TBHQ can cause “nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, delirium, a sense of suffocation, and collapse.” Ingesting five grams of TBHQ can kill.’

Now granted five grams of TBHQ is a lot, but why eat any? Why not just eat food?

Oh and what about dimethylpholysiloxane? Huh? Here is the definition, but you probably know it better as silly putty.

di·meth·yl pol·y·si·lox·ane (d-mthl pl-s-lksn)

A polymer composed of alternating silicon and oxygen atoms and having two methyl groups attached; it can, depending on molecular weight, have properties ranging from oils to plastics.

I think the moral of the story is that if you can’t actually PRONOUNCE the food particles that you and your little children are eating, than you probably shouldn’t be eating it. Buy ingredients, not packages. And remember that just because something says it’s organic, it doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

I am working on a recipe to make REAL chicken nuggets that are kid approved. I plan on making it in batches to freeze so I can have a quick kid meal on hand. Have one to share? Please do so. UPDATE: I just posted my chicken nugget recipe! Turned out great!

And if you feel upset and lost by this article and feel like you’ve been doing things so wrong for so long- don’t. Ditch the guilt and make a change today, start small and take it from there. And if you want someone to hold your hand as you transition to Real Food then consider investing in you and your family’s health and take Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s 12 week E-Course that is designed to do just that. It is so worth it, and you won’t regret it.

Thanks for reading my rant…hope you got through it and thanks for doing so! Pass it along!

This post is shared on Simply Lives Thursday #43

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9 responses to “Ever wonder what was really in McDonald’s “Chicken” Nuggets?

  • Lisa G.

    Love this Jennie – You put a lot of work into it! And I had never heard all of that research yet so it was super interesting!! I was soo lazy yesterday we almost stopped for nuggets, but in a crisis of conscience I just couldn’t do it. Now I’m sooooo glad I skipped and made spaghetti for dinner!!!

    • jenniepaige

      Lisa-we have ALL been there-shoot I was there a couple weeks ago but I think I went home and we ate the same thing. I knew some of the stuff already but did NOT know that about the HFCS. Yuck yuck yuck. Especially considering it’s in nearly every thing. And no wonder Autism is so high. Thanks for commenting!

  • Sue Gibbs

    Now I think maybe the reason the 5 yr. old hamburger with the bun is still looking like it did when it was purchased. I took a class called Devoted Bodies and much of this was in the discussions but not as in depth.
    Wow Jennie you did your research and this hamburger still keeps rocking on looking the same. The above items you dissected show why. Keep up the good work.

    • jenniepaige

      Sue-there have been other experiments done with putting teeth in cola and watching how it not so slowly deteriorates and discolors. Really nasty stuff. Thanks for your comment.

  • KristenP

    Thank you so much for this post. I really appreciate that you actually did the research and provided your sources, which for me, really drives the point home and makes a much bigger impact on my decisions. I’ve read other blogs making claims on similar subjects, with nothing to back it up, and although I’m sure what they’re saying is true, I’m often left wondering, “okay, that’s great, but where’d you get this info?” Thank you again! I do the occasional drive-thru, but I am seriously going to make a change right now. No more mercury or butane for my little guy! Looking forward to your chicken nugget recipe!

    • jenniepaige

      Thank you so much for that comment. I appreciate it so much. I am so glad that it helped make a difference. I wanted to put even more info in there but didn’t want to overwhelm. Have a great day!

  • Beth

    What a fantastic snapshot summary of our modern food supply — it makes you wonder how we went so terribly wrong. I’m with you, buy ingredients, carefully sourced, and you’ll be far better off.

  • Chicken Nuggets « Pure Homemaking

    […] of you might remember my article that I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the dangers of eating conventional chicken nuggets. I specifically broke down all of the ingredients in McDonald’s nuggets, but sadly they are […]

  • Rachel

    This is a very informative! A rule to live by: If you can’t read it, don’t eat it! lol! Btw, I started a new link up that you migt be interested in for sharing healthy ideas, recipes, suggestions, going “green” tips, etc. and I hope you’ll join me today, Wednesday! :)(Healthy 2day Wednesdays)You could share this post or something similar! Have a great week!

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