This is What a Chicken Nugget Looks Like Under the Microscope

A professor at the University of Mississippi takes a closer look at the makeup of America's favorite fast food item.

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Many children grow up asking, “Where is the nugget on the chicken?” Then they get older, and wonder: If there’s no nugget on a chicken, where does a chicken nugget come from? If they read the Internet, they find out that chicken nuggets are made from pink goop, or mechanically separated chicken washed with ammonia, reflavored artificially, and dyed.

Then, if the person in question is an inquisitive researcher, they will ask, “What does a chicken nugget look like under a microscope?” This is exactly what Richard D. deShazo, a distinguished professor of medicine at University of Mississippi Medical Center, wondered, leading him to stick the golden, fried nugget under the ‘scope. “‘I was floored. I was astounded,’ deShazo said of the moment he looked at a chicken nugget under a microscope,” reports The Atlantic.

Professor deShazo first became curious about the nuggets when he noticed that kids were addicted to them. deShazo dissected two random chicken nuggets from two different undisclosed restaurants. His findings have been published in the American Journal of Medicine.

Here is a little insight into what deShazo and his colleague, Steve Bigler, found while inspecting the two chicken nuggets:

  • The nugget from the first restaurant (breading not included) was approximately 50 percent muscle. The other half was primarily fat, with some blood vessels and nerve, as well as “generous quantities of epithelium [from skin of visceral organs] and associated supportive tissue.” 
  • The nugget from the second restaurant was 40 percent skeletal muscle, as well as “generous quantities of fat and other tissue, including connective tissue and bone.”
  • Chicken nuggets are mostly fat, and their name is a misnomer…because the predominant components aren’t chicken.”
  • “It’s a combination of chicken, carbohydrates, and fats, and other substances that make it glue together. It’s almost like super glue that we’re eating. In some fast-food restaurants.”
  • “We’ve taken a very healthy product—lean, white meat—and processed it, goo-ed it up with fat, sugar, and salt [in the breading]…Kids love that combination.”

[via The Atlantic, Gizmodo]

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