As a mom of a two-year-old, I occasionally get him a Happy Meal for a treat. I won't be doing that any more, now that CNN's reporting McDonald's Chicken McNuggets contain a chemical that's also used in Silly Putty.
The chemical, dimethylpolysiloxane, is an "anti-foaming agent." Why are Chicken McNuggets foaming in the first place?
According to Lisa McComb, who deals with McDonald's global media relations, the oil in which the nuggets are cooked can bubble up dangerously, and the Silly Putty chemical prevents this from happening. It's a form of silicone that's also used in cosmetics, and according to a World Health Organization study, is safe for consumption - but still totally gross-sounding.
McNuggets also contain a petroleum-based product, tBHQ or tertiary butylhydroquinone, which is used as a preservative. This chemical is only present in .02% of the oil the nugget's fried in, but it can be very dangerous if it's used in too high a concentration. According to the book “A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives," one gram of tBHQ can cause "nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, delirium, a sense of suffocation, and collapse."
Only American McNuggets contain these two chemicals: the British version of the chicken nuggets are prepared differently.
Christopher Kimball, the founder of Cook's Illustrated Magazine and the host of the TV show America's Test Kitchen, says these chemicals probably help the nuggets keep their shape and texture; but British nuggets don't fall apart without them. British nuggets are also lower in fat and calories. “The regulations in Europe, in general, around food are much stricter than the U.S.,” Kimball says.
New York University professor and author Marion Nestle told CNN that while these chemicals are unlikely to harm nugget-eating adults or kids, a good general rule is not to eat anything with ingredients you can't pronounce.
That means I should have taken McNuggets off my child's menu a long time ago.