NewsArts & Culture / February 6, 2014

Witness The Birth Of A Chicken McNugget

Allegations of mystery meat have long dodged the fast-food giant's crispy chunks of chicken. Now, McDonald's Canada is taking a viral approach to dispelling the rumors with a video that reveals exactly how its McNuggets are made.2014-02-06T00:00:00-05:00
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Witness The Birth Of A Chicken McNugget

A fried, battered coating can hide a multitude of sins. (Everything tastes yummy when deep-fried, amiright?) So it's not surprising, really, that allegations of "mystery meat" have dodged McDonald's famous chicken McNuggets on and off for years.

Now, the company is taking a viral approach to dispelling the rumors — particularly, the urban myth that its crispy chunks of chicken are really made of this pink goop. In a new video, McDonald's Canada takes a film crew behind the scenes to witness the Birth of a McNugget.

We viewers go inside the Cargill plant in Ontario that makes the nuggets and see that — spoiler alert! — the process does indeed start with real chicken carcasses. The breast meat is removed, then put through a grinder, where it's mixed with chicken skin and seasoning.

Then, it's shaped into McNuggets, which apparently come in four distinct patterns — the bell, the ball, the bow tie and the boot. (Am I the only one who never noticed this?)

Finally, those little lumps of chicken get their crunchy coats on — they are battered not once but twice and par-fried for shipment to franchisees. Not exactly health food, but not this, either. (Although apparently, eating roughly 1,000 McNuggets during the 2008 Beijing Olympics didn't stop lightning-fast runner Usain Bolt from bringing home three gold medals.)

It's easy to see why McDonald's felt the need to lift the veil on McNugget-genesis. Just last fall, a very small study published in the American Journal of Medicine found that nuggets sold by some fast-food chains barely deserved the name chicken.

As I reported last year, the nuggets examined were only 50 percent meat at best. The rest consisted of decidedly unappetizing stuff, including fat, blood vessels, nerves and ground bones. And while the researchers refused to name the fast-food chains from which they had purchased their samples, some consumers were ready to give the side-eye to McD's (which, as we noted at the time, states on its website that its McNuggets are made of white meat.)

And McDonald's isn't the only big name in chicken defending the reputation of the nugget. The National Chicken Council has had this FAQ on facts and myths about chicken nuggets up for over a year.

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