Frying chicken is fairly simple, if a little messy. You dip pieces of chicken into a mix of egg and milk, roll them around in flour and spices, then cook the chicken in sizzling hot oil until the pieces are brown, crispy and delicious.
But wait! Don’t forget to add a dash of dimethylpolysiloxane, an anti-foaming agent made of silicone that is also used in Silly Putty and cosmetics.
Now add a heaping spoonful of tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ), which is a chemical preservative and a form of butane (AKA lighter fluid). One gram of TBHQ can cause “nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, delirium, a sense of suffocation, and collapse,” according to A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives. Five grams of TBHQ can kill you.
Sprinkle on thirteen other corn-derived ingredients. And you were using pulverized chicken skin and mechanically reclaimed meat for your chicken, right?
No one in his or her right mind would cook chicken like this. Yet every day, hoards of Americans consume these ingredients in Chicken McNuggets, which McDonalds claims are “made with white meat, wrapped up in a crisp tempura batter.”
U.S. McNuggets not only contain more calories and fat than their British counterparts, but also chemicals not found across the Atlantic.
American McNuggets (190 calories, 12 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat for 4 pieces) contain the chemical preservative tBHQ, tertiary butylhydroquinone, a petroleum-based product. They also contain dimethylpolysiloxane, “an anti-foaming agent” also used in Silly Putty.
By contrast, British McNuggets (170 calories, 9 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat for 4 pieces) lists neither chemical among its ingredients.
However chicken only accounts for about 50% of a Chicken McNugget. The other 50% includes a large percentage of corn derivatives, sugars, leavening agents and other completely synthetic ingredients, meaning that parts of the nugget do not come from a field or farm at all. They come from a petroleum plant. Hungry?
Scariest perhaps is the fact that this recipe is a new and improved, “healthier” Chicken McNugget launched in 2003 after a federal judge called the deep-fried poultry bites “a McFrankenstein creation of various elements not utilized by the home cook.” Also terrifying is the fact that these McFrankenuggets are overwhelmingly marketed to children who love their fun shapes and kid-friendly size.
While McDonald’s is of course the poster child for fast food ire, if you look at the nutritional information for chicken at any fast food restaurant, the ingredient list will be dozens of items longer than the egg, flour, chicken and oil recipe you might use at home.
Eating fast food is a habit, but it is one that you can break? No doubt you rarely plan to have a delicious meal at Arby’s for dinner, a lingering lunch at Carl’s Jr. or a special breakfast at the Burger King in the airport. It just happens. You are late, tired, hungry, broke, or all of the above. You have no time, and you must find something to eat before you crash. All of a sudden a bright, friendly sign beckons from the side of the road: Drive-through!
In five minutes you are happily chowing down on an inexpensive, filling meal. But don’t be fooled – the true cost of fast food does not come out of your wallet, but out of your body, your health, and your years on this earth. There’s no doubt processed food like that from McDonald’s is not part of a healthful diet.
You can break the unhealthy fast food habit: educate yourself about the true ingredients of fast food items, plan ahead for your meals, carry healthy snacks like nuts to ward off hunger and cook healthy chicken recipes at home. Convince yourself that fast food is the most disgusting stuff on the planet and is harmful to you and to those you love. After reading this, that shouldn’t be too hard.
When a group of obese teenagers sued McDonald’s, claiming that it made them fat, the widely publicized case drew howls of derision. But the burger giant and its competitors aren’t laughing anymore. When Federal Judge Robert Sweet threw out the teenagers’ case last February, reasoning that customers knew the dangers of eating Big Macs and supersize fries, he went on — in less noted parts of his ruling — to set the stage for future lawsuits. He noted that “Chicken McNuggets, rather than being merely chicken fried in a pan, are a McFrankenstein creation of various elements not utilized by the home cook,” including ground chicken skin, hydrogenated oils and dimethylpolysiloxane, an antifoaming agent, and he questioned whether customers understood the risks of eating McDonald’s chicken over regular chicken.
This shouldn’t come as any great surprise. After all, how healthful can something be that shows no signs of decomposing after being left on a counter for more than a decade? The truth is McDonald’s fare contains non-food ingredients.
Manhattan artist Sally Davies has photographed a McDonald’s Happy Meal every day for six months. And it looks almost as fresh as the day it was bought, with no trace of decay.
The Daily Mail reports:
“In a work entitled The Happy Meal Project, Mrs. Davies, 54, has charted the seemingly indestructible fast food meals’ progress as it refuses to yield to the forces of nature.”
However, it turns out that Davies has some catching up to do. A Hamburger Today reports that wellness educator and nutrition consultant Karen Hanrahan has kept a McDonald’s hamburger since 1996, which is pictured on the left below. As you can see, it still looks the same as the fresh one on the right next to it!
According to McDonald’s, their chicken nuggets are “made with white meat, wrapped up in a crisp tempura batter.” Organic Authority pointed out to a recent article, these nuggets are a far cry from what you might expect.
So what are dimethyl polysiloxane and tertiary butylhydroquinone?
Dimethyl polysiloxane is a type of silicone with anti-foaming properties used in cosmetics and a variety of other goods like Silly Putty.
Tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) is a petroleum-based product with antioxidant properties.
TBHQ, typically listed as an “antioxidant,” is a synthetic chemical with antioxidant properties — not a natural antioxidant.
TBHQ prevents oxidation of fats and oils, extending shelf life of processed foods. Commonly used in processed foods of all kinds, it’s also found in varnishes, lacquers, pesticide products, cosmetics, and perfumes to reduce the evaporation rate and improve stability.
According to A Consumer’s Dictionary Of Food Additives, one gram of TBHQ can cause:
Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
Sense of suffocation
Based on animal studies, health hazards associated with TBHQ include:
liver effects at very low doses
positive mutation results from in vitro tests on mammalian cells
biochemical changes at very low doses
reproductive effects at high doses
The bottom line is, if you want to stay healthy, and keep your children healthy, it is best to avoid both fast food and other processed foods, and invest time in cooking from scratch.
Ideally, you’ll want to consume as much whole, raw, organic and/or locally grown foods as possible. That’s why so many people like vegetable juicing. You’re consuming living raw food!
Full ingredient list for a Chicken McNugget (from McDonald’s website):
White boneless chicken, water, food starch-modified, salt, seasoning (autolyzed yeast extract, salt, wheat starch, natural flavoring (botanical source), safflower oil, dextrose, citric acid, rosemary), sodium phosphates, seasoning (canola oil, mono- and diglycerides, extractives of rosemary). Battered and breaded with: water, enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), yellow corn flour, food starch-modified, salt, leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, calcium lactate), spices, wheat starch, whey, corn starch. Prepared in vegetable oil (Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness). Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent.
Full ingredient list for my mother’s fried chicken:
Bone-in chicken pieces, egg, milk, flour, canola oil, salt & pepper.