Friday, March 23, 2007

I'm Proud to Report I Never Eat at McDonald's

I encourage you to check out this article describing the ingredients in McDonald's Chicken McNuggets. You may not be surprised to learn that they are less than 50% chicken, or that they contain several entirely synthetic compounds---chemicals which are not parts of plants or animals---but the article is still a sobering read.


  1. The fact that a McNugget is mostly corn is pretty amusing, and not terribly surprising given its flavor.

    The fact that it contains a bunch of evil synthetic "chemicals" neither impresses, scares, surprises, nor deters me from eating them. Everything is a poison if taken in enough quantity, and I'd wager that a careful chemical analysis of nearly any natural product is going to reveal a whole raft of products that will kill you dead if taken in 5-gram quanitites.

    In addition, the sentence "TBHQ is a form of butane (i.e. lighter fluid)" is absolutely incorrect, and suggests its author is either completely ignorant of chemistry or is exaggerating in a completely intellectually dishonest attempt to make his argument seem scarier. Butylhydroquinone is a derivative of butane, not a form of it. What's more, the hydroquinone moitey is larger than butane, so it's a more correct description to describe TBHQ as a derivative of hydroquinone, not the other way around. Describing TBHQ as a "form of butane" is like describing sarin as a "form of" isopropanol because it has an isopropoxy group hanging off it.

  2. Yes, I was suspicious of the "form of butane" claim, which is why I didn't single out TBHQ as the creepiest component of McNuggets. It's good to have the input of an actual chemist on this issue.

    Still, the degree to which Chicken [sic] McNuggets are removed from being actual pieces of chicken is interesting and more than suffices to keep me from eating them.

  3. Yeah, I'm not at all bothered by the "chemical" additives (as if there are non-chemical additives; anyone ever see "neutron star material" or "quark-gluon plasma" listed as an ingredient in a box of breakfast cereal?) in McNuggets; I'm bothered by the fact that their taste and texture recalls a battered and fried packing peanut. The fact that their actual composition is not that far from a modern packing peanut (i.e. cornstarch) is pretty dang funny.