McNuggets ruffle feathers

By Meng Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-07-08 11:17
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McNuggets ruffle feathers

McDonald's iconic chicken snack is under fire after claims about the use of chemicals. [China Daily] 

McDonald's Chicken McNuggets are under fire in Beijing after an investigation allegedly found its American counterpart contains chemical ingredients that are also used in cosmetics and Silly Putty.

The State Food and Drug Administration called for a national investigation targeting food safety of McNuggets in China on Tuesday, and the Beijing health supervision bureau claimed in an earlier report that it has already carried out its investigation on the fast food.

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The investigation by broadcaster CNN in late June claimed that the fast food contains the chemical preservative tBHQ, tertiary butylhydroquinone, a petroleum-based product and dimethylpolysiloxane, "an anti-foaming agent", also used in Silly Putty.

The above two chemicals are allowed to be used in food production procedures in China under a certain level. The maximum amount of tBHQ allowed in fried food is 0.2 g/kg and the amount of dimethylpolysiloxane can reach 10 mg/kg in edible fat, with 0.2 g/kg in meat processing.

"The key point is that whether or not the amount of chemicals in McNuggets exceed the safety level," Ma Yanhua, the director of development with China Cuisine Association, told METRO on Wednesday.

She said China has set the safety amount of the chemicals, but the testing methods are various and it may take some time for specialists to find the best approach.

"We will follow the development of the investigation and offer test results to the public as soon as possible," Ma said.

From the results of previous checks, McNuggets sold in Beijing's restaurants are up to standard. However, tBHQ and dimethylpolysiloxane were checks not included in previous examinations.

However, many experts have come forward to confirm that certain amounts of food additives would not pose a risk to health. Despite this, a survey conducted by showed that 85.9 percent of its 11,899 respondents believe chemicals will put their health in danger and 75.9 percent say that they will never buy McNuggets again.

McDonald's China said in an e-mail reply on Monday that the amounts of the two chemicals in McNuggets are able to reach the national standard and will not harm health, according to the Beijing News.

Phones rang unanswered at McDonald's China's public relations company, Weber Shandwick, on Wednesday.

Zeng Wenjing, manager of a McDonald's in Yayuncun, claimed McNuggets' sales have not been influenced by the news. "Chicken McNuggets are one of the most popular items on our menu, especially among children," she said.

Han Ping, the mother of a three-year-old, said she preferred McNuggets because they had no bones.

"Now I know, I will never buy them for my child again," she said.

Du Wei, a regular McDonald's eater, said she couldn't believe McNuggets were still being sold in China.

"Food additives will remain in our body after we eat them. They should ban McNuggets in China," she said.

Very few people in the McDonald's Yayuncun store ordered McNuggets at lunchtime on Wednesday. Li Jing, who said she has bought McNuggets since kindergarten, said she doesn't care. "If there was something wrong with them, I would be dead already."