Hey, Mc Donald’s! Your Chicken McNuggets are Still Not Healthy

February 17, 2017

in Ask Dr Lisa, Family Health

Dr. Lisa, my son came running to me with Ipad in hand to show me that the number one video on YouTube was an ad from McDonald’s where they walk the viewer  through a factory, demonstrating how chicken Mc Nuggets are made and what ingredients they use. The host carries his laptop around to show photos of previous claims of pink slime and compared it to Tyson’s chicken factory line. He even shows how after the chicken is ground it looks nothing like the pink slime claims. My question to you is this:  Are Chicken Mc Nuggets finally healthy? “ ~ Kristina

 I understand this video gets your mind thinking maybe Mc Donald’s is making healthy chicken Mc Nuggets for our kids. In fact, the marketing behind it is genius (as Mc Donald’s has always triumphed). 

But if you are considering Mc Nuggets are somehow now healthy,  hold on. I have more to tell you. 

In the video the host continues his chat via headsets with a worker who tells him what other ingredients are added to the ground chicken. She goes through the list of ingredients as if they are safe and healthy ingredients. And if you do not know these ingredients are toxic and unhealthy, you would think at this point McDonald’s has cleaned up their chicken act. 

Check out the video!

If they have you thinking maybe they have cleaned up their Mc  Nugget act, hold your horses fast-food racer!

The ingredients in the Mc Nugget are still bad.

Here is why.

The Toxic Ingredient Still in a Mc Nugget

As the video moves along, some ingredients are listed and if you are not too sure how to read ingredients, you may think these ingredients are not that bad.

Think again.

A few ingredients listed in the video are in fact neurotoxins which are harmful to the body. If you go to Mc Donald’s website, you will find they list even more toxic ingredients!

These Mc Nuggets are not looking so good even with this clever marketing video.

Let me help you dig deeper…

Dextrose and Modified Food Starch

A genetically modified organism is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. Many crops today are genetically modified and used in our foods and drinks. When I am teaching patients how to read labels, I have them identify ingredients that may be derived from possible GMO sources such as glucose, dextrose, maltose, fructose, highly processed high fructose corn syrup, corn starches and other sugar variants (as well as, corn, and soy). 

According to Professor Gilles-Eric Seralini’s study on genetically-modified (GM), corn treated with Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, Monsanto’s NK603 GM maize variety and Roundup herbicide, can lead to kidney and liver damage. GMOs have also been linked to serious health problems such as tumors in rats. The  NON GMO PROJECT list is a great tool to know which products are safe to purchase as GMO free.


The amount of salt (sodium) used in chicken Mc Nuggets is 320mg (.32g sodium) for 4 pieces.

The daily recommended maximum amount of salt children should eat depends on age:

  • 1 to 3 years – 2g salt a day (0.8g sodium)
  • 4 to 6 years – 3g salt a day (1.2g sodium)
  • 7 to 10 years – 5g salt a day (2g sodium)
  • 11 years and over – 6g salt a day (2.4g sodium)

How many pieces of chicken McNuggets and what other food items does your child eats during the day? Do they include Mc Donald’s french fries with their Mc Nuggets? You need to  consider how much salt your child is consuming through the day, staying below the daily recommended maximum amount of salt for children. 

Another important factor is to ask yourself, what type of salt is in this food item? Many salts today on the market  (in our drinks and foods) are highly processed and lack the ability to provide essential minerals and trace minerals needed by the body. If you look closer at the ingredients listed in chicken McNuggets, the sources appear to be from harmful sources(salt, autolyzed yeast extract, and sodium phosphate are a few). The only salt I use in my home when we make healthy chicken nuggets is Pink Himalayan Sea Salt which is rich in over 80 minerals. See here.

Autolyzed Yeast Extract

I find this ingredient an excellent example of how harmful chemicals can be lurking in your foods and you simply would not know it. There are many ingredients on the market today that contain processed glutamic acid (MSG or monosodium glutamate). According to the FDA, each ingredient must have its own name (different from MSG). Autolyzed yeast, maltodextrin, hydolyzed pea protein and sodium caseinate are common examples of some ingredients that contain MSG. The frightening part here is that unlike the ingredient MSG or monosodium glutamate, these other ingredients do not tell you that there is MSG in the them.  Another salt source as well!

Sodium Aluminum Phosphate

Sodium Aluminum Phosphate is a toxic food additive that is found in thousands of  foods such as frozen breakfasts items, instant pancake mixes and processed cheese. This ingredient often acts as a leavening agent such as in the breaded part of the chicken McNugget. It is synthetically made from aluminum, phosphoric acid and sodium hydroxide. This ingredient should be avoided as aluminium has been linked to creating neurological conditions such as Alzheimers.

Natural Flavoring

Natural flavoring can very  misleading. The term leads us to believe that it is an ingredient from a natural source, not a synthetic one which allows us to conclude that it is safe for consumption. Although the flavoring must be derived from plant or animal raw materials (by a physical, microbiological or enzymatic process), many food items on our shelves today are sourced with toxic chemicals that cause diseases. Natural flavoring can mean can mean gultamate, MSG, autolyzed  yeast, hydrolyzed soy protein, artificial sweeteners, L- Cysteine (usually from duck feathers and human hair), GMOs, anal secretions, and other unhealthy ingredients.  Holy cow, right?

Food Babe explains here that natural flavoring can also be derived from Castoreum, another word for beaver anal sacs (no joke). Pretty gross, right? Beaver anal sacs are derived from raw animal material which is natural in origin. It doesn’t stop here. There are many other things called “natural flavors” that are in your foods. Food Babe continues “the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional” (21CFR101.22). 

The bottom line is that you really have no idea what you are eating as “natural flavoring.” In fact, you could be eating flavoring derived from animals such as pig cow, turkey, chicken, or lamb which also may have been injected with growth hormones and antibiotics and fed GMO corn and grain. 

Unfortunately, our FDA allows this trickery of including harmful and gross ingredients to be termed as “natural flavoring.”  Be aware!

Citric Acid

This ingredient is surprisingly found in almost all food labels. It is used as a flavor enhancer and preservative. It provides a tart citrus taste to foods and creates an acidic environment so microbes can’t grow. The danger here is that Citric Acid is derived from sugar beets or corn which are two of the most popular GMO sources. It also has been reported to cause stomach irritation and digestive issues as well. It’s an ingredient that lurks in your food that may be linked to some health issues you are unaware of the cause.

The Chicken Meat

According to the video, the chicken used is Tyson conventional chicken: a non free-range chicken. This type of chicken is commonly treated with vaccines, antibiotics and hormones while being fed conventional feed products that are typically medicated with pharmaceuticals and grown with GMO pesticides.

McNuggets are Cooked In

Where do I even begin here? Here is how they cook your child’s McNuggets. (I took this right from Mc Donald’s website). 

Prepared in Vegetable Oil (Canola Oil, Corn Oil, Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil with TBHQ and Citric Acid added to preserve freshness). Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent…

Hydrogenated Oils

Hydrogenated oils are the sneaky evils in and used to prepare many foods.  These fats are man-made, created by taking a healthy unsaturated fat and blowing hydrogen atoms into is, thus saturating it.  Hydrogenated oils create pure havoc in the bod as they are linked to an abundant of diseases, especially heart disease. They are harmful and should not be used. Corn and soybean oil are commonly derived from GMO sources and should be avoided as well.

TBHQ (Tertiary Butylhydroquinone)

TBHQ is a chemical preservative which is a form of butane. It is a preservative that allows foods to last longer when on the shelf.  It is most common in fast foods, but is also in many common foods such as candy. According to a study in the June 2008 issue of “Carcinogenesis,” TBHQ has been linked to an ability to make cancer cells resistant to chemotherapy agents. Another study in the June 2014 issue of “Food Chemistry” reported that TBHQ can fragment DNA and cause damage to human lung and umbilical cells. Scary for sure!

In my TBHQ research, the majority of articles found reported that TBHQ can cause anxiety, restlessness, and aggravation of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, symptoms, in children, although I was unable to find the clinical studies that demonstrate this link. However, at high doses TBHQ is clinically reported and to cause health problems.


This is a type of silicone used in caulks and sealants, as a filler for breast implants, and as key ingredient in Silly Putty.  It is also used in adhesives, silicone grease, defoaming agents, mold release agents, damping fluids, polishes, and cosmetics. This ingredient has been reported to derive from chemicals such as formaldehyde and is found in many fast food restaurant items and believe it or not, fountain sodas. If you are not sold on the dangers of eating Silly Putty, read the Food Babe and Natural News articles on this nasty foaming agent in your child’s food.

How to Kick the McNugget Habit

Simply make your own.

This is very easy to do and YOU control the ingredients as you foster a healthier food choice and diet for your child. You can even up the health factor by adding ingredients loaded with healthy omegas and nutrients instead of toxic chemicals.

  1. Choose free range, organic chicken that are free of antibiotics, growth hormones and fed natural vegetarian feed
  2. Follow my favorite recipe below, using certified organic ingredients to create toxic free nuggets. Try it with ground organic chicken.
  3. Join my 7 Day How to Eat Healthy Quickstart, a free step-by-step email challenge to help you start to eat the right way.

Get my favorite easy and healthy Homemade Chicken Nuggets Recipe here!


*Always read my disclaimer. Photo credit is by ChantalS @ Dollar Photo Club This page contains affiliate links meaning we earn a commission if you use those links. We only recommend brands we use and trust.

  • http://www.naturalnews.com/036308_natural_flavors_MSG_aspartame.html
  • http://foodbabe.com/2013/09/09/food-babe-tv-do-you-eat-beaver-butt/
  • http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/salt.aspx
  • http://www.truthinlabeling.org/II.WhereIsMSG.html
  • http://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en/food/product_nutrition.chickenfish.483.Chicken-McNuggets-4-piece.html?itemName=Chicken-McNuggets-4-piece
  • http://www.purezing.com/living/toxins/living_toxins_dangerousingredients.html
  • http://www.naturalnews.com/045412_citric_acid_food_ingredients_GMOs.html

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Lindsey February 23, 2015

Thanks for this great post and the healthy nugget recipe that will definitely become a staple on our dinner table!!!

Dr. Lisa February 25, 2015

Lindsey, You are welcome. I have always made homemade chicken nuggets for my kids, but what I figured out to do (and I wish I knew years ago) is to use ground chicken. It comes out very similar in texture to fast food nuggets! 🙂 Dr. Lisa

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