I am sure many of you already knew this, but chicken nuggets barely count as chicken, unless you are okay with any part of the chicken being labeled as chicken. The good news is that chicken fat, skin, sinew, blood vessels, nerves and bone fragments taste just like chicken when fried in corn oil. and it counts towards the 40% to 60% chicken content in a chicken nugget. What is the other 60% to 40%? I hope you are a fan of chemistry. The answer, in no particular order:
- L-Cysteine, an amino acid, which can be found in duck and chicken feathers and cow horns. This is primarily used in the breading part of the chicken nugget, but may also be found in other Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s and Burger King products. From Wikipedia:
The majority of L-cysteine is obtained industrially by hydrolysis of poultry feathers or human hair.Synthetically produced L-cysteine, compliant with Jewish Kosher and Muslim Halal laws, is also available, albeit at a higher price.
For the science nerds, note that this can be synthesized by fermenting a mutant strain of E. coli! E. coli! Seriously? Seriously.
- Propylene glycol. This is that liquid you pour into your engine radiator to prevent freezing and overheating. It is anti-freeze. Yum! To be fair, propylene glycol has been declared safe in small doses for dogs, but dogs do have stronger stomachs…and they lick one another in the rear end for fun. In humans, 4 g/L can be fatal. In smaller doses accrued over time, this has been linked to heart attacks and neurological disorders. For the science nerds:
- Sodium benzoate is a friend to all of you soda drinkers. This chemical is used as a preservative, but you Coke(tm) addicts may be happy to know that this gives soda its ability to survive a zombie apocalypse. The catch is that sodium benzoate may combine with other acids, such as ascorbic acid, in the soda beverage over time and create harmful benzene–a known carcinogen. Continuing the theme for the science nerds:
- Ammonia and ammonia-treated meat. Perhaps you have heard of “pink slime”? Pink slime is in a family of ammonia-treated meat products. Thanks to some publicity, fast food restaurants are moving away from mechanically separated meat/ poultry (MSM/MSP) soaked in ammonia, but may still use meat/poultry treated with ammonium hydroxide. For you furniture makers, you may recognize this as the chemical used to darken or stain wood. This could also be used to clean kitchen floors, or to add flavor to cigarettes. If it is good enough for cigarettes, I suppose it is good enough for me! One more for the science nerds:
In summary, eating fast food may be a quick, convenient, and cheap way to satisfy your hunger, but buyer beware–you are subjecting yourself to a chemistry experiment.
Aerospace Cubicle Engineer (ACE)