What’s in Your McNugget?

It’s no secret that McDonald’s sells different fast food products in different countries. For example, in Korea, you can get the Bulgogi Burger (pork patty in a bulgogi marinade) and a McBingSoo (Korean shaved ice) to wash it down; in El Salvador, French fries are made out of yuca rather than potatoes; and in Egypt, you can order the McFalafel sandwich and Egyptian cookies. You may be surprised, however, to find out that even the same product sold in different countries can contain different ingredients. A recent article in CNN.com pointed out that Chicken McNuggets sold in the U.S. contain more calories and saturated fat than McNuggets in Great Britain. What’s more, American McNuggets also contain the preservative tertiary butylhydroquinone (tBHQ) and the anti-foaming agent dimethylpolysiloxane whereas British McNuggests do not. In the article, Marion Nestle, a New York University professor and author of “What to eat,” recommended that readers avoid foods containing ingredients they can’t pronounce. Is this really sound advice?

Author: Linda Wang

Associate Editor, Chemical & Engineering News

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  1. Well, I might say that piece of advice is silly considering I heard someone at a salad shop the other day ask for some FAY-tah cheese. The guy behind the counter looked pretty confused until the customer pointed to the feta.

    In any case, what irks me about this article is that they focus on the chemicals (one of which the WHO declared safe, and the other, which is at concentrations so low it wouldn’t cause those adverse health effects listed) instead of the fat and calories.

  2. Look to M&M’s food coloring used in the US and band in Europe for a great example of the variance between countries. M&M had to change their food coloring for Europe to stay in that market. They did so, but failed to improve the domestic product. As to not eating what you cannot pronounce, MSG (specifically the synthetic version used in the US) can be pronounced by anyone. The problem is you will rarely find it listed as an ingredient since it goes under mutiple names including Artifical Flavoring.

    The big problem with chemicals like synthetic MSG is you are getting a dose not with one food like Chicken McNuggets, but in a large majority of what you eat fast food, snack food and otherwise. A rought estimate would suggest 70 to 80% of your daily intake could include synthetic MSG. Including 2 snacks a day you could be eating 5 times a single dose of synthetic MSG.

    Did you know High Fructose Corn Syrup, a common word we can now all pronounce, cannot be processed into food (sucrose) by the liver, but is stored directly as fat. Fast food, low cost food and convience foods rely on High Fructose Corn Syrup to lower their cost and we wonder why America is getting fat. High Fructose Corn Syrup and synthetic MSG (induces cravings for more) are a one two punch.

    Nothing wrong here except synthetic MSG has no taste and it is not a perservative, as most believe. It is a chemical that shifts the behavior of the brain to desire more. Yes, you are being chemically manipulated. It has many reported side effects and is in most fast foods, as well as, the majority of foods in the food chain if processed. Planters now include MSG in their peanuts and mixed nuts! Why? Most candies and dairy products incorporate Carrageenan a word you may stumble on, but another synthetic that typically includes synthetic MSG. Powdered milk, half & half, ice cream, most cheeses, cream cheese and evaporated milk are a few examples where you will struggle to avoid synthtic Carrageenan. Powdered milk is used to make milk chocolate and most cocoa powders incorporate Carragenan. Not in basic foods you say, like tomato puree or spices, think again.

    You can learn more about chemicals in foods that can harm you and how to avoid them with a common sense approach at http://healthylife.rmtrain.com, a WEB site dedicated to avoiding harmful chemicals in our processed foods.

    We have built a society that could not have advanced as far as it has without science and the wonders of many chemicals. Like anything when and how they are used is up to us.