As if you needed another reason to avoid feeding chicken nuggets to children.
Earlier this month, Tyson Foods, the Springdale, AR manufacturer of all things chicken, recalled more than 75,000 pounds of frozen chicken nuggets.
Seventy-five thousand pounds, in the grand scheme of food recalls isn’t all that much. It’s a drop in the bucket, really, especially when compared with some other recent recalls. But here’s why it’s worth calling out.
“The problem was discovered after [there were] consumer complaints that small pieces of plastic were found in the products. The problem was traced to a product scraper inside a blending machine,” reports Food Safety News.
Shoddy equipment malfunctioned, leaving pieces of plastic in food most often fed to children. Surely this wasn’t the first time this happened. How many times have unreported contaminants been consumed by children unable to distinguish all the ‘should be there’ ingredients in a chicken nugget from the ‘shouldn’t be' stuff? More than have been reported, that's pretty much a guarantee.
This is what happens though when we make the justification for feeding our children processed foods. Chicken nuggets—even the organic kind—are highly processed. They meet machine after machine before they reach your child’s plate. And bite-sized prepared foods make it next to impossible for a parent to inspect what’s going into their kids’ mouths. If a parent is going to feed his or her child processed food, they should at least be able to inspect it thoroughly. Because we simply cannot trust food manufacturing to deliver us healthy, clean and safe foods. That plastic bits are even a possibility renders the system seriously flawed.
The question of food safety, particularly when it comes to processed animals parts we feed our children, is one we can’t consider often enough. And yet, even despite the gross factor any health-conscious parent thinks about McDonald’s chicken nuggets, many somehow still approve of feeding them at home. As if defrosting nuggets and putting them into the oven constitutes “cooking.”
If fun finger foods are a must in your house, why not employ the help of your child in making your own breaded “nuggets?” (I recommend skipping the chicken part all together and breading garden-grown zucchini, eggplant or cauliflower instead.) Empowering your child to know that he or she can make anything seen in restaurants or supermarkets gives them a sense of achievement and pride. It connects them to their food in a most profound way. And as a parent, you won’t ever have to wonder if you accidentally just fed your child plastic.
Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger
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image: the delicious life