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McDonald's McNuggets Under Fire

Posted by Shirley Brady on June 29, 2010 11:30 AM

Brandchannel recently noted British chef Jamie Oliver's comments on McDonald's U.K. being closer to his philosophy on healthy eating than McDonald's U.S.

One particularly kid-appealing food item on McDonald's menu that raised Oliver's hackles, above, is facing more fire following an investigation by CNN — the Chicken McNugget.

The humble McNugget is being attacked for containing the same chemical found in Silly Putty, a toy tie-in that McDonald's isn't eager to have associated with its name.

The uproar started after Dr. Sanjay Gupta's blog on CNN.com investigated a reader query about the nutritional value of Chicken McNuggets in America vs. the UK.

Gupta's team found that "U.S. McNuggets not only contain more calories and fat than their British counterparts, but also chemicals not found across the Atlantic."

Specifically, American McNuggets "contain the chemical preservative tBHQ, tertiary butylhydroquinone, a petroleum-based product," noted CNN senior medical producer, David Martin.

"They also contain dimethylpolysiloxane, 'an anti-foaming agent' also used in Silly Putty."

British McNuggets (170 calories, 9 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat for 4 pieces), in contrast, include neither chemical among their listed ingredients.

McDonald’s global media spokeswoman Lisa McComb tells CNN the differences are based on local tastes.

U.S. McNuggets are coated and then cooked, while U.K. McNuggets are cooked and then coated, meaning British McNuggets absorb less oil and have less fat.

"You would find that if you looked at any of our core food items. You'd see little, regional differences," McComb told CNN. "We do taste testing of all our food items on an ongoing basis."

Parenting bloggers such as the San Francisco Chronicle's The Mommy Files picked up on the furor, rankling a group that McDonald's has been reaching out to online and in person.

McDonald's created a panel online mothers to serve as "Moms Quality Correspondents" and last month flew them (and their families) to its headquarters to meet with its executive chef, Dan Coudreaut.

McDonald's U.S. has also produced videos to try to educate kids about healthier eating, which you can watch below.

It's not the only fast food giant to constantly face public criticism over its food. Chipotle, a chain that prides itself on fresh, local ingredients, was recently attacked in The Atlantic for its core menu item of a burrito being less healthy than a Big Mac.

Chipotle CEO Steve Ells defended the product to the LA Times' food bog, while acknowledging that its sodium level is too high.

Comments

Kettles and Toasters United Kingdom says:

Oh dear, Chicken McNuggets are always the first thing that I look to the on the menu when I go in there. This kinda puts me off them, but they are certainly tasty. I watched a documentary last week that suggested there may be a phenolic antioxidant chemical inside which is not great to hear.

July 3, 2010 10:39 AM #

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