McDonald's China defends chemical used in Chicken McNuggets


The chemical name is harder to pronounce than "two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, etc." Still, it's causing McDonald's representatives in China to insist that the additive--used in Chicken McNuggets--is "harmless," despite claims to the contrary by some medical experts.

The chemical in question, tertiary Butylhydroquione, is a petroleum-based product that can cause health effects such as stomach tumors in lab animals when administered in high doses. The compound, used in McDonald's Chicken McNuggets, meets Chinese food safety standards. However, Liu Qingchung, a nutritionist at the General Hospital of Armed Police Forces, was quoted in China Daily as stating that the chemical used in McDonald's chicken nuggets is "toxic to some extent."

The additive is also used in McDonald's restaurants in the U.S. and Japan, where it also meets national health standards. Meanwhile, China's State Food and Drug Administration will continue to monitor the safety of McNuggets.

The situation is of particular concern in a nation where poultry is the second most-consumed meat after pork. Bloomberg Businessweek reports that demand this year is estimated at more than 12.6 million tons, adding that safety concerns about food have risen in China since contaminated milk powder killed at least six babies in 2008 and sickened about 300,000 children. That same year, pesticide-tainted dumplings imported from China sickened at least 10 people in Japan.

Originally published