Food Marketing News

Published on October 7th, 2013 | by Jennifer Kaplan


What’s Really In Fast Food Chicken Nuggets? Hint: Yuck!

chicken nugget

Doctors at the University of Mississippi Medical Center set out to determine the nutritional content of fast food chicken nuggets. I’m not sure you want to know what they discovered.

Earlier this month Doctors Richard D. deShazo, MD and Steven Bigler, MD from the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, MS published a truly disturbing study: The Autopsy of Chicken Nuggets Reads “Chicken Little.” 

Are Fast Food Chicken Nuggets Even Food?

What lead them to wonder what’s actually in a fast food chicken nugget (as so many of us have?):

Chicken nuggets have become a major component of the American diet. We sought to determine the current composition of this highly processed food.

So with this in mind the team randomly selected nuggets from two different national fast food chains. They fixed the nuggets in formalin (a solution of formaldehyde in water, used to preserve biological specimens), sectioned them and stained them for microscopic analysis. What did they find?

The Nasty Results

They found that, as so many of us have suspected, that most of the “chicken” is not actually chicken meat. What is it? Mostly fat, connective tissue and other very unappetizing stuff:

Striated muscle (chicken meat) was not the predominate component in either nugget. Fat was present in equal or greater quantities along with epithelium (animal tissue covering the external and internal surfaces of the body), bone, nerve, and connective tissue.

Their conclusion:

Chicken nuggets are mostly fat, and their name is a misnomer.

Chicken Nuggets photo via Shutterstock

Keep up with the latest sustainable food news by signing up for our free newsletter. CLICK HERE to sign up!

Tags: , , ,

About the Author

is a former marketing consultant who decided, at the age of fifty, to turn her hand to creative non-fiction. Jennifer continues to write about sustainable food and wine, the intersection of food and marketing and food politics for and is the author of Greening Your Small Business (November 2009, Penguin Group (USA)). She was named one of The 16 Women You Must Follow on Twitter for Green Business. She has four kids, a dog, a hamster and an MBA - follow her on and .

Back to Top ↑
  • Support our Site!

  • Let’s Connect!

  • Popular Posts & Pages

    Whether you are looking to completely give up animal products or just want to try eating vegan some of the time, we want to support you! Below, you’ll find articles answering some common questions about vegan cooking and nutrition. If you don’t see your question answered below, please get in touch with us! We are happy to investigate for you!

    Find out what's in season now, plus get plenty of recipe inspiration to help you make the most of every season's beautiful, local fare.

    I love infographics. When I came across this one about what, how, and when to plant vegetables, I thought I’d share. Keep reading after the pic for a few of my own lessons learned.

    Top Sustainable Food Jobs of the Week.

    Looking for an all vegan grocery store? Even if you’re not lucky enough to have one in your town, there are lots of online options for vegan grocery shopping.

  • Search the IM Network

  • The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by, and do not necessarily represent the views of Sustainable Enterprises Media, Inc., its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.