The great American chemistry experiment that is the McNugget is getting reborn as an ostensibly more natural chunk of chicken. McDonald’s says it is testing a “cleaner” version, one that reworks the bland-tasting ground-up chicken pieces made with sodium acid pyrophosphate and dimethylpolysiloxane into a still-bland-tasting ground-up product that’s now additive-free. The company isn’t releasing the new recipe yet, but it did tell the AP it won’t include sodium phosphates, an artificial ingredient the company has maintained keeps the chicken moist. The oil used to fry them will no longer contain the scary-sounding artificial preservative tert-Butylhydroquinone, either.
The move should help the long-mocked menu item regain a little respect, especially in conjunction with the announcement last year that McDonald’s was switching to chicken raised without human antibiotics. To explain why a new recipe now, the company said: “More than ever, customers care about where their food comes from and how it is prepared.”
The biggest question here, oddly, seems to be how serious the company is about the changeover. Three sources “familiar” with the plan told Crain’s Chicago, which broke the story, that these “clean-label” McNuggets will get a nationwide rollout just before the Olympic Games start in August. But the company has officially walked that back entirely, telling Crain’s, “We’re not making any announcement” because right now “This is very much a test.”