Why are chicken nuggets called nuggets

Chicken nuggets put to the test

Popular with children, easy and quick to prepare: Chicken nuggets are on everyone's lips. Reason enough for the Association for Consumer Information (VKI) to take a close look at the products. Eight products were examined, the raw material of the gold pieces has mostly traveled far, according to the VKI.

Known from fast food chains, chicken nuggets are also part of the basic equipment of freezers at discounters, supermarket chains and even health food stores. Practical in preparation and consumption, they are suitable for quick cooking.

Small to tiny pieces of meat

The VKI now wanted to know what was in the breading and took a close look at eight products from different production lines. And yes: it is meat, which often comes along as stylized, flat, small chicken thighs, according to the VKI. The quality, however, varies: “A glance at the product description - affixed to the back of the packaging - usually provides an initial orientation. Designations such as 'put together from tender chicken meat' or 'shaped chicken fillet pieces' indicate that small to tiny pieces of meat have been put together to form a nugget using various methods. "

Molded meat

According to the Austrian food book, molded meat is when pieces of meat the maximum size of hazelnut are mixed with table salt, mechanically processed (mixed, tumbled) and then pressed into shape under pressure, states the VKI. The association's experts assessed the eight samples both raw and cooked. Each nugget was cut open and the sectional image described. In four samples, the experts found pieces of chicken meat in different sizes, but no molded meat. In contrast, the remaining pieces of meat were no more than 5 mm thick.
To elaborate a little more precisely: Whoever accesses these nuggets, eats, as it is called in the language of the experts, "an abundant fry-like, frothy, starchy mass with muscle fibers, grown skeletal muscles, connective tissue, spices" and sometimes also "poultry skin", he said VKI.

Mechanically separated meat

In one sample, the testers found an astonishingly high calcium content. "The calcium content determined indicates the processing of mechanically separated meat," says the report. Mechanically separated meat (also known as bone cleaning) is meat that has been removed from the bone by machine. For this purpose, meat bones are either pressed through a perforated cylinder or the meat is separated from the bone by high-pressure rollers, brush heads or a high-pressure water jet.

Meat with a shell

The testers were satisfied with the quantities on the packs. Both the meat and breading were correct. Even if their proportions differ between the products. “All nuggets were weighed and the deviation determined. There was nothing to complain about here. The weight was right, the contents of each pack corresponded to the net weight shown ”, the VKI states.

Fat in the nugget

The nuggets contain astonishingly different amounts of fat, namely between five and 18 percent depending on the product. The leanest were the nuggets from a well-known discount store, the fattest those from the Sparschiene of a large supermarket chain.

Where was the chicken as an egg?

The packaging did not reveal anything about the origin of the chickens. So the VKI contacted the manufacturers directly, and they all replied. The quantities of meat required for the chicken nuggets cannot be found domestically at a competitive price, according to the local processors. So it has to be imported from abroad, for example from Germany, Slovenia and France. But the chickens are also obtained from Brazil and South America. The production then takes place predominantly in Germany or in Great Britain.

Taste: From good to awful

The association had all products first prepared by testers and then tasted. Hardly anyone had any problems with the actual preparation. Opinions differed when it came to taste: while some loved the product, others hated it heartily. “Tastes sour and is watery, the breading is thick and tasteless,” some angrily entered into the test protocol, while the other enthusiastically commented: “Meat tastes very good, that's how nuggets should be!” One and the same product was described and reported the VKI. So gold is also a matter of taste.

Chicken Nuggets: Summary

  • Traveled: Poultry from all over the world are bought for chicken nuggets. Only the production, and that only for the two products, takes place in Austria.
  • Shaped: Half of the products tested consisted of molded meat, including the test winner.
  • Eaten: The testers were far apart when it came to the taste judgments. Some were enthusiastic, others horrified. The only thing that helps here: try it out yourself.


"If you want nuggets from an Austrian fattening farm instead of a well-traveled chicken, you can only make it yourself", is the conclusion of the VKI.

The entire report can be read on the “Konsument” website.

Christian Boukal

September 2011


Photo: picture box

‌ Last updated on May 11, 2020