Just in case chicken “nuggets” aren’t disgusting enough, now Tyson has been forced to recall more than 75,000 pounds of the melded poultry parts because of “extraneous material”.
Due to an issue with some of the processing equipments, consumers may find a little something extra in their “nuggets” – little bits of plastic. The USDA reports:
The problem was discovered after the firm received consumer complaints that small pieces of plastic were found in the products. The problem was traced to a product scraper inside a blending machine.
The company has received reports of minor oral injury associated with consumption of these products. FSIS has received no additional reports of injury or illness from consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness from consumption of these products should contact a healthcare provider. (source)
Sadly, plastic is not the worst thing you might find in chicken nuggets. They are made when the inedible parts of the chicken are washed with ammonia to kill bacteria, “mechanically separated” which means turned into a paste, and squirted out into mini-nugget blobs or patties. The parts included are the entire carcass, the tendons, the gristle…ugh. Then artificial flavors and good old MSG are used to disguise the nasty origins of the “meat” and because it’s Pepto-pink, artificial color is used to make it look like chicken.
According to an article on Mother Jones, only 40% of that tidy little breaded nugget is actually chicken meat.
The implicit marketing pitch goes something like this: “You like fried chicken, right? How about some bite-sized fried chicken chunks, without the messy bones?” When most people think of eating chicken, they think of, say, biting into a drumstick. What they get when they do so is a mouthful of muscle—popularly known as meat.
What people are actually getting from chicken nuggets is a bit different, according to a new study by University of Mississippi medical researchers. (Abstract here; I have access to the full paper but can’t upload it for copyright reasons.) They bought an order of chicken nuggets from two (unnamed) fast-food chains, plucked a nugget from each, broke them down, and analyzed them in a lab.
One of them contained just 40 percent muscle. The rest? “[G]enerous quantities of fat and other tissue, including connective tissue and bone spicules.” Mmmm, chicken bones.
The other sample had a whopping 50 percent muscle. The remainder consisted “primarily of fat, with some blood vessels and nerve present,” as well as epithelium, the stuff that glands are made of.
Now why would national fast-food chains be mixing bone and fat and whatnot into the chicken meat they grind into nuggets? I doubt anyone ever woke up and thought, “I’m craving some mechanically formed orbs of chicken parts, including meat, but also with plenty of fat, connective tissue, glands, and bone.” Offal is a lot cheaper than meat—the more you can work in, the more profit you can eke out of this popular menu item. Granted, people should eat more offal, as I’ve argued before. But (a) they have a right to know when they’re eating it; (b) one reason people eat chicken meat is because they think it’s lean—cutting it with chicken fat turns such eaters into suckers; and (c) bone matter, really? Bones are great when they’re gently boiled into highly nutritious broths and stocks. That seems like a much more reasonable use for them than hiding them in chicken nuggets. (source)
So therein lies all of the chicken bits and pieces people wouldn’t normally eat, GMO corn starch, GMO dextrose, and chemical flavors and colors. Big Food is also not well-known for its humane treatment of animals. They are raised in horrific conditions, treated with antibiotics and hormones, and fed GMO corn. Considering all of this nastiness that you can find with a seal of USDA/FDA approval in the freezer section of your grocery store, it’s gotta be bad if there is something included that ups the nastiness quotient to the point a recall is necessary. After all, in the grand scheme of revolting things to eat, are little flecks of plastic really that much grosser than the other stuff contained within that crispy coating?
If you or someone you love happens to have this stuff lurking in your freezer, you can find complete information about the recall HERE.
Our anarchist recommendation? If you are going to eat chicken, try to find a local source of free range poultry. Cook it yourself. It really doesn’t take that much longer to throw a chicken breast on a pan and put it in the oven than to shake “nuggets” out of a bag onto a pan and put it in the oven. If your kids want “friendly” shapes, you can pound the chicken thin with a meat mallet and use a stainless steel cookie cutter to make dinosaurs, butterflies, and whatnot.