Here's a fun fact: their "chicken" is actually, at most, 44 percent chicken. The rest is mostly corn, salt, preservatives, and a few other interesting nasties.
When someone orders chicken nuggets, it's generally understood that you're getting chicken, not corn. Unfortunately, corn is extremely abundant in this country and is easy to establish crops of in others, and so corn and corn products compose the majority of McDonalds "chicken" nuggets.
Yes, I absolutely have to use the quotation marks. Sue me.
There are 38 ingredients in the McDonalds "chicken" nuggets.
Of them: the chicken (which is fed genetically altered corn, by the way. But is that really much of a surprise?), modified cornstarch (without this, the "chicken" nuggets would not be able to hold themselves together, due to the extreme processing of the nugget.), emulsifiers (so that the fats and the moisture in the nuggets do not separate, forming a nasty clot-like knuckle of nugget.), dextrose (it's a sugar.), chicken broth (a source of moisture and some flavor that has been leeched out of the nugget by the processing of the product.).
Yellow corn starch and more modified cornstarch are added to make the batter.
Even more cornstarch is used as a filler in the nugget itself. Following that, other fillers include vegetable shortening and partially hydrogenated corn oil (a source of trans fat; particularly nasty trans fat, as well.), and citric acid (about the only even slightly natural thing about the nuggets.)
Interestingly, perhaps even moreso than the above, are ingredients actually purchased from chemical plants that go into the "chicken" nuggets.
Aluminum phosphate and calcium lactate help prevent the rancid vegetable fats in the nuggets from starting to rot visibly and starting to smell disgusting.
Dimethylpolysioxene is added to the oil to prevent starches (and, as you can see, starches aren't just present in the nuggets--they're outright abundant.) from binding.
Problem: this chemical is a carcinogen.
What's more--and you'll like this--it's actually flammable.
Tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) is derived from petroleum and is an antioxidant that is actually sprayed directly on the nugget most of the time to preserve freshness. For those of you familiar with TBHQ, it will come as no surprise to you that TBHQ is a form of butane. Butane is lighter fluid.
That's two flammable ingredients in "chicken" nuggets from McDonalds. I'm starting to suspect that McDonalds is responsible for alleged cases of spontaneous human combustion.
TBHQ is allowed in small quantities by the FDA to be used in our food. This is a good thing that it is at least limited. A single gram of TBHQ, when ingested, can induce nausea, vomiting, delirium, collapse, and worse. Three to six grams of TBHQ can, and have, killed people.