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Some people may scoff at the “bird food” of plant-based diets, but veggies, fruits, grains and nuts are way more appetizing than the nasty stuff found in certain meat products like pink slime, meat glue and arsenic. Now another repulsive meat fact has been revealed thanks to new research out of the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Researchers decided to take a closer look at what the typical chicken nugget contains inside its fried, crisp shell. What they found is downright disgusting. Fat, cartilage, pieces of bone, blood vessels and nerves from organ issue made up the bulk of the chicken nuggets studied.

The nuggets were selected from two leading fast food chains (whose names were not mentioned in the study) then researchers chose one piece from each box. They preserved the “chicken,” dissected the pieces, stained them and then examined both under a microscope to see what was really there, according to Fox News. (View an enlarged microscopic photo of one of the nuggets here.)

The first nugget was made up of about 50 percent chicken meat while the remaining 50 percent was a mixture of fat, blood vessels and nerves, specifically those that line the skin and internal organs of chickens, reports CBS News. The other nugget was about 40 percent meat while the rest of its composition was fat, cartilage and bone.

“What has happened is that some companies have chosen to use an artificial mixture of chicken parts rather than low-fat chicken white meat, batter it up and fry it and still call it chicken,” lead author Dr. Richard D. deShazo told Reuters.

“My concern is that [chicken nuggets] constitute a large part of people’s diets. Particularly children,” said deShazo via Nature World News. “When you fry any food, you’ve got a problem because you add a lot of calories to it. And we eat high-fat foods like chicken nuggets rather than fresh fruits and vegetables.”

The study’s findings harken back to 2010 when this infamous photo of mechanically separated poultry went viral. While McDonald’s vows that it uses only all-white meat in its chicken nuggets, it looks like that pink paste is still finding its way into other nuggets, which are heavily marketed to children.

Even though the study only featured two nuggets in its sample group, its conclusions would probably be much the same with a larger sampling. Reasons abound to eat less chicken and fast food, and this study definitely adds yet another reason to these lists. That celery stick is looking pretty tasty now, isn’t it?

Image source: J.Smith / Wikipedia Commons