On Bad Health Reporting, Irresponsible Scientists and Chicken Nuggets

This story on the non-chickenness of Chicken Nuggets had been persisting as a featured story in my RSS reader, so despite my better judgement, I finally gave in and clicked.

Chicken nuggets: Call ’em tasty, call ’em crunchy, call ’em quick and convenient. But maybe you shouldn’t call them “chicken.”

So says , a professor of pediatrics and medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. In a published in The American Journal of Medicine, deShazo and his colleagues report on a small test they conducted to find out just what’s inside that finger food particularly beloved by children. Their conclusion?

“Our sampling shows that some commercially available chicken nuggets are actually fat nuggets,” he tells The Salt. “Their name is a misnomer,” he and his colleagues write. The nuggets they looked at were only 50 percent meat — at best. The rest? Fat, blood vessels, nerve, connective tissue and ground bone — the latter, by the way, is stuff that usually .

Now, this was an informal test. To conduct their chicken “autopsy,” the researchers went to two different national fast-food chains near their health center in Jackson, Miss., and ordered chicken nuggets over the counter.

This isn’t unsurprising and I wouldn’t be at all surprised that it is representative, but what the hell are “scientists” doing reporting an informal test to the public. That is the antithesis of science. If you throw a few nuggets under a microscope and find something interesting, then do some science before reporting it to the public.

It doesn’t rise to the level of rigor that Mythbusters or Alton Brown would give this issue.

The informal test they did suggested the need for a real test that could get an actual meaningful result. This nonsense is a big reason the public feels jerked around that what ‘science’ tells us keeps changing every other week. It reminds me of the nutrition professor that wrote up his N=1 Twinkie Diet experience. I really don’t understand the abysmal level of health reporting in this country, especially in organizations with resources and reputations to look after like NPR and CNN.


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About Marc Brazeau

Free lance cultural attaché. Writing at REALFOOD.ORG.

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