Chicken Nuggets: Is That How They're Made? A GOOD Fact Check
A lot of people have checked out our post on how chicken nuggets are made, which shows a disgusting image of a pink material and an even grosser video and offers this set of facts:
Mechanically separated chicken—the stuff chicken nuggets and patties are made from—is what you get when you grind an entire chicken through a sieve, soak it in ammonia, and add flavor artificially.
With some prompting from Jason Kottke, we've done some investigating, and it turns out that the post was only partly true and certainly blown out of proportion (and no one is really sure what that photo is of).
According to Snopes, which I regard as the preeminent internet-craziness fact debunking site and (problematically, most likely) consider infallible, here is what is true and not true about mechanically separated chicken:
1. "It's what you get when you grind an entire chicken through a sieve"
Close, but not quite. When a machine processes a whole chicken, there is quite a bit of meat left on the bones. To avoid wasting that meat—and money—the bones are run through a sieve-like device, but only to remove meat and other edible tissue (like tendon) from them. So, yes, there is a sieve, but the end result consists only of meat, not ground up bones or eyeballs.
2. "Soak it in ammonia"
Ammonia has sometimes leaked onto food from cooling systems, causing contamination, but it is not something that food processors can legally add to foods. Lord knows what people are actually doing in their chicken processing plants, but this is not an accepted part of the practice.
3. "Add flavor artificially."
This part is totally true. These little processed chicken scraps may not have the delicious chicken flavor you were hoping for, so processors add flavoring.
4. "The stuff chicken nuggets and patties are made from"
This is also totally true. Also add hot dogs to that list. However, a product must list "mechanically separated chicken" as an ingredient. For the record, McDonald's Chicken Nuggets are all white meat, and not made from MSC.
So, the truth is pretty gross. But not quite as gross as the internet rumor. Below can see a great video (which we've linked to before) of Jamie Oliver showing kids exactly how chicken nuggets are made, and then watching in horror as they gobble up the results:
A New Olympics Just For Nomads Playing polo with a 100-pound goat carcass to save nomadic culture and build national pride in Kyrgyzstan.
New Detroit Program Trades Houses for Literary Excellence Write a House names Brooklyn poet Casey Rocheteau as first recipient of free home in Detroit
A Chance in Hell Yaks, America, and The Apocalypse Up against an $88 billion beef industry, it takes a leap of faith to raise yak in the United States.
Specialty Coffee Retailers Try to Prove They're Good to the Last Drop Searching for the perfect cup of sustainable and ethically produced joe. #NationalCoffeeDay
Metalhead Ballerinas Rock the U.K. Brutal Ballet slayed U.K. audiences last week with the debut of original choreography set to a metal cover of the Game of Thrones themesong.
You’re Now a Two-Minute Video Away from Getting into College
Goucher College will accept video applications in lieu of the traditional essays and test scores.
3 Epic Racial Profiling Blunders from History
Racial profiling not only harms innocent people of color, it can cause law enforcement to lose crucial time in pursuing the true criminals.
10 Overlooked Issues That People are Protesting This Week at the U.N.
The U.N. General Assembly is a magnet for protest from every race, color, and creed. Meet some of the people behind the picketing.
Why We Still Need the Nation State Overshadowed by international organizations, global commerce, and even individual cities, the nation state still has a vital role to play.
Flip-Flopping on Fats Health and sustainability concerns drive the two largest donut chains to change their policies on palm oil.
The Challenge of Branding a Life-Threatening Disease Can mitochondrial disease go mainstream? There are promising developments for mitochondrial disease in genetics and cellular therapies—now, if only it could get some buzz.
A Headdress Ban Disqualified Qatar’s Entire Women’s Basketball Team from International Competition
If the Asian Games really want to be a place where diversity shines, they should’ve opposed International Basketball’s ban on religious headwear.