Which would you rather your kid eat: Chicken McNuggets or Silly Putty? There might not really be a difference.
CNN reports that McDonald's makes its Chicken McNuggets with the chemical preservative tertiary butylhydroquinone (tBHQ), a petroleum-based product (who says Americans aren't addicted to oil?). Those yummy petroleum-packed McNuggets also contain the oh-so-scrumptious ingredient dimethylpolysiloxane (an anti-foaming agent). Guess where else you can find that one? Silly Putty.
Petroleum and Silly Putty. Yum! Can you imagine putting that on a plate and serving it to your toddler?
But not to worry. McNuggets are perfectly safe. Sort of.
A review of animal studies by the World Health Organization found no adverse health effects associated with dimethylpolysiloxane. Tertiary butylhydroquinone is limited to .02 percent of the oil in the nugget. One gram (one-thirtieth of an ounce) can cause "nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, delirium, a sense of suffocation, and collapse," according to A Consumer's Dictionary of Food Additives.
That begs the question: If those ingredients are so safe, then why are neither of them used in the Chicken McNuggets sold in Britain? McDonald's says the differences are based on "local tastes" (like I said, petroleum and Silly Putty, yum!). But it likely has more to do with Europe's stricter food regulations.
For the record, British McNuggets are healthier all around with 170 calories, 9 grams of fat, and 1 gram of saturated fat for 4 pieces. (Stateside McNuggets have 190 calories, 12 grams of fat, and 2 grams of saturated fat for 4 pieces.)
So can your kid get sick from eating McNuggets? The answer is no (at least in the short-term).
Marion Nestle, author of What to Eat, told CNN that the amounts of butylhydroquinone and dimethylpolysiloxane in McNuggets probably pose no health risks. As a general rule, though, she advocates not eating any food with an ingredient you can’t pronounce.
I live by that rule. In my house, we have a really hard time pronouncing "McDonald's."
Does your toddler eat Chicken McNuggets? Do the ingredients worry you?
Image via dno1967/Flickr