If you have ever been to a restaurant and ordered a side of chicken nuggets, you probably wonder what they are made of. The answer is simple, a deboned piece of chicken meat that has been battered, breaded, and deep-fried. They are often sold frozen and are a staple in many fast-food chains. Read on to find out! But first, let’s get to the science behind these delicacies.
As chicken consumption has risen steadily in the United States, so has the production of chicken nuggets. As of 2020, chicken was the most popular protein consumed in the U.S. per capita, up from the 50s. Chicken consumption is expected to reach more than 98 pounds per person by 2020, double the consumption rate in 1960. Hence, chicken nuggets have become a massive industry.
Chicken Nuggets Nutrition Facts
What are Exactly Chicken Nuggets?
A chicken nugget is a food item made from a small piece of deboned chicken meat that has been breaded or battered before being deep-fried or baked. Chicken nuggets were first introduced in the 1950s and have since become a popular fast food restaurant item and a popular frozen home item.
The chicken nugget was invented in the 1950s by Robert C. Baker, a Cornell University food science professor, and published as unpatented academic work. Baker and his colleagues dubbed this bite-sized piece of chicken, coated in batter and deep-fried, the “Chicken Crispie.” At the time, the meat industry was struggling with two issues: clumping ground meat without skin and creating a batter coating that could be deep-fried and frozen without coming apart.
What are Chicken Nuggets Made of?
The preparation of these delicacies begins in the blending room, where a massive grinder grinds meat. It’s then combined with seasonings and formed into nuggets. The nuggets are then dipped in batter and fried. For mass-produced chicken nuggets, the procedure is similar, though the shapes and breading may differ slightly.
Wheat flour, vegetable oil, sodium phosphate, monosodium glutamate, and a leavening mixture are the main ingredients in chicken nuggets. The moist texture of the Chicken nuggets is due to this leavening agent. Aluminum is also used in the batter for chicken nuggets as a leavening agent. Despite their name, making chicken nuggets is a straightforward process.
More than half of the chicken nuggets are made up of chicken breast meat, with the remaining 45 percent of batter, seasoning, and oil. These nuggets are fried until they have a nice crisp to them. The chicken is then marinated in dextrose and salt to give the nuggets flavor and keep them crispy and juicy.
Are Chicken Nuggets Healthy?
On the surface, breaded and fried chicken isn’t the best or worst food your child could consume. The chicken is high in B vitamins and protein, and it can be part of a healthy diet when served with a side salad or vegetables and a whole grain.
The nutritional value of nuggets is primarily determined by who makes them. Store-bought and fast-food varieties both have drawbacks (see below). You can always make your own breaded and baked nuggets if you prefer, and this helps reduce the number of unpronounceable ingredients, preservatives, sodium, and fat in the food.
Are Chicken Nuggets Bad for you?
They’re certainly not nutritious! The World Health Organization confirmed in 2015 that all processed meats, such as chicken nuggets, cause colorectal cancer and a link to stomach cancer. Furthermore, there is strong evidence linking higher fried food consumption to chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart failure.
Let’s not forget about pathogens like salmonella, campylobacter, and E.coli associated with handling and eating chicken. These are responsible for millions of people becoming ill each year. There is also a risk to one’s overall health. We can see how dangerous the chicken farming industry is when we consider it linked to serious pandemic risks and contributes to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant pathogens.
Truth About Chicken Nuggets
Although the chicken nugget may appear innocent with its cheery packaging and delectable sauces, it is at the heart of an industry that is wreaking havoc on the environment, animal welfare, and human health.
Farm runoff pollutes rivers, lakes, and ponds, resulting in harmful algae blooms and the death of fish and other aquatic animals. Heavy metals and pathogenic bacteria in chicken manure can contaminate water sources, causing disease and death in wildlife. Land degradation can quickly occur when soil is overfertilized with runoff and becomes fouled with waste byproducts. Broiler production emits 45 percent more harmful greenhouse gases than other types of poultry production, contributing to global greenhouse gas emissions.
Human Health Impacts
Water and air pollution cause illness in people near intensive chicken farms. Poultry farming produces a lot of ammonia, methane, and sulfur dioxide and a lot of particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, and nitrogenous compounds. Residents and workers can be irritated by airborne ammonia, and other airborne compounds can cause bronchitis, asthma, heart disease, and lung cancer. Strong odors and increased populations of disease-carrying insects, such as flies and mosquitoes, plague nearby residents. The Ohio Department of Health discovered that people who live near large chicken farms have 83 times the number of flies and mosquitoes as those who live in other areas. People who live near chicken farms may suffer financial losses due to lower property values and may not be able to afford to relocate to areas with clean water and air.
Chickens raised for food products such as nuggets endure hardship throughout their lives. These sentient, intelligent birds are deprived of all-natural and normal behaviors from birth to death. Hens are artificially inseminated because they are caring and attentive mothers. Their eggs are taken away, and they are never allowed to raise their chicks. Breeding birds are routinely starved to prevent broilers from gaining too much weight and dying too soon. Chicks are kept in overcrowded, dark sheds with no access to natural light or the outdoors. They frequently don’t have enough space to spread their wings. High ammonia levels in the sheds cause eye ulcers, burns, and skin inflammation. Contact dermatitis and infections are caused by wet, dirty litter.
What can you do?
The demand for quick and easy products like chicken nuggets has fueled an industry with high environmental and health costs. It has created a system based on the death and suffering of billions of intelligent, conscious birds. It’s also unsustainable. Consumers can help by refusing to eat nuggets and other animal-derived products. One of the most effective ways to reduce the number of animals slaughtered is to eat plant-based foods regularly. There are numerous plant-based alternatives to chicken nuggets, allowing people to satisfy their nugget cravings without endangering animals or contributing to environmental degradation. Companies such as NUGGS, MorningStar, Gardein, Alpha Foods, and Boca, to name a few, all have delectable options.
We balance taste against animal suffering, environmental degradation, and personal and public health when weighing the pros and cons of chicken nuggets. So, what if we could avoid all of the bad stuff while still enjoying our favorite flavor? We can. Many companies are now producing delicious vegan fried chicken that looks, cooks, and tastes like a chicken without drawbacks.
Chicken Nuggets contain no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives and are made entirely of white meat chicken. The tenderloin, breast, and rib chicken are marinated for flavor and keep the Chicken Nuggets’ fun shapes.
We love and are inspired by the phrase “be the change you want to see in the world.” Suppose we don’t want to live in a world where animals are subjected to factory farming and slaughter. In that case, one reckless industry pollutes and poisons our environment while posing severe public health risks, and we can stop supporting it.