McDonald's defends chemical in chicken nuggets

09:39, July 06, 2010      

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Some customers in China seem to be wondering whether fast food giant McDonald's has been referring to a chemical ingredient used in McNuggets when they say "extra value meal" in ads.

A CNN report said chicken McNuggets contain the chemical preservative TBHQ, or tertiary butylhydroquinone, a petroleum-based product used as a preservative for vegetable oils and animal fats. It's the same one used in Silly Putty, the report said.

McDonald's China acknowledged that the nuggets here contain the same chemicals, but denied it leads to any health problems. Chicken nuggets also contain dimethylpolysiloxane, "an anti-foaming agent" also found in Silly Putty.

"I am shocked to hear this report and it definitely aroused my concern," said Zhu Xiaojin, a resident in Lanzhou, Gansu Province.

The CNN report said McNuggets are made differently in the UK and the US. It said UK nuggets are not made with the chemical.

Several websites and TV stations reported on the CNN story Monday, prompting McDonald's China to release a statement.

It said the "quantities of these two chemicals abide by the existing regulation on the use of food additives and they pose no threat to health."

"We have a strict procedure overseeing the quality of food we offer, they are in line with government standard."

Food experts told CNN that TBHQ represents about 0.02 percent in the oil used to fry nuggets. A gram could lead to "nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, delirium, a sense of suffocation, and collapse."

However, McDonald's China did not say how the chicken nuggets are cooked in China, which according to the CNN report, is crucial in determining the nutrition value of the products.

It said that American nuggets have more calories than those sold in the UK because they are first coated then cooked, a procedure McDonald's said is due to localization.

According to McDonald's own statistics, a 5-piece set of chicken nuggets sold in China has 270 calories.

A spokesman with China's Food and Drug Administration, who asked not to be identified, told the Global Times that they are "concerned with the issue" but will not carry out an investigation because those chemicals are "approved additives."

It's not the first time McDonald's food has been questioned. The Global Times reported earlier that an American nutritionist bought a hamburger and French fries and kept it. It was reported that they failed to decompose after a year, fueling speculation that they are packed with preservatives.

"It's really disappointing to constantly hear so many negative health reports about McDonald's food, especially considering how popular they are with young children," Zhu said.

Source: Global Times


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