How could we have missed this one from CNN Health?
Q: What’s the difference between McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets in the US vs. the UK?
A: Silly Putty!
It appears that for some reason, McDonald’s USA is employing certain ingredients that are not used in the UK version of the chicken masterpiece. Yankee nuggets contain the chemical preservative TBHQ, tertiary butylhydroquinone, a petroleum-based product. They also contain dimethylpolysiloxane, “an anti-foaming agent”. Dimethylpolysiloxane is also used in Silly Putty.
McDonald’s attributes the difference to regional taste preferences and the way the product is prepared in each country. Skeptics will say that this is a good excuse for choosing the lowest cost ingredients you can get away with without poisoning your customer. The food regulation bodies in the UK, and Europe in general, tend to be more strict in this respect compared to their American counterparts.
What you need to know:
TBHQ (tertiary butylhydroquinone) is an antioxidant used to keep oils from going rancid. It is a petroleum derivative. Yummy. The food industry pushed the FDA for years to get it approved as a preservative despite the fact that ingestion of large doses (a thirtieth of an ounce) can cause nausea, delirium, and ringing of the ears. (Anyone remember what Jack Nicholson had for lunch in “The Shining”?) TBHQ cannot exceed 0.02% of the oil and fat content in a food.
Dimethylpolysiloxane, also called dimethicone or Antifoam A, is an antifoaming additive used in a variety of processed food products and drinks. Its’ a type of silicone and not considered toxic, according to the World Health Organization.
But despite it’s safety, it appears the Brits do not want silly putty in their nuggets, nor do they want potentially harmful additives.
Not that the McNugget is such a health food to begin with. Here’s the full ingredient list:
White boneless chicken, water, food starch-modified, salt, seasoning (autolyzed yeast extract, salt, wheat starch, natural flavoring (botanical source), safflower oil, dextrose, citric acid, rosemary), sodium phosphates, seasoning (canola oil, mono- and diglycerides, extractives of rosemary). Battered and breaded with: water, enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), yellow corn flour, food starch-modified, salt, leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, calcium lactate), spices, wheat starch, whey, corn starch. 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.
Are you Lovin’ it? We’re NOT.