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7 October 2013
Chicken nuggets: fat, connective tissue, nerves, and bone fragments

An analysis of chicken nuggets from two major fast-food chains found they contained around 50 percent meat, with the remainder made up of fat, skin, connective tissue, blood vessels, nerves and bone fragments.

"I was floored," said University of Mississippi researcher Richard deShazo. "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."

For the examination, deShazo worked with Steven Bigler, a pathologist at Baptist Health Systems, who stained, fixed, sliced and analyzed the nugget sections. Detailing their findings, the researchers reported that meat constituted about half of nugget No. 1.

"The nugget from the first restaurant was composed of approximately 50 percent skeletal muscle [meat], with the remainder composed primarily of fat, with some blood vessels and nerve present. Higher-power views showed generous quantities of epithelium and associated supportive tissue including squamous epithelium from skin or viscera," deShazo said.

The nugget from the second restaurant was found to be composed of approximately 40 percent skeletal muscle, with generous quantities of fat and other tissue, including connective tissue and bone fragments.

"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 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," noted deShazo.

He added that fast-food chains aren't necessarily misleading consumers. "We just don't take the time to understand basic nutritional facts - this is a health literacy issue," he concluded.

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Source: University of Mississippi

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