40 ingredients are used to make Chicken McNuggets. Photo / iStock
40 ingredients are used to make Chicken McNuggets. Photo / iStock

What's really in Chicken McNuggets?

We're often warned about foods with multisyllabic ingredients, and advised against eating things with more than a few components.

In a new book that breaks down the ingredients of 25 popular foods, items also used to make inedible products have been found in the likes of Chicken McNuggets, Campbell's soup and Red Bull.

The collaboration of a food writer and a photographer, Ingredients: A Visual Exploration of 75 Additives & 25 Food Products shows images of deconstructed foods that reveal what they're really made of.

When it came to Chicken McNuggets, photographer Dwight Eschliman and writer Steve Ettlinger studied what is publicly available nutritional information and found 40 ingredients are used to make the bite sized snacks.

Included in the list is corn starch, commonly used to thicken food, but also used to make cardboard or as a substitute for gasoline.

And dextrose, a sugar used to make leather more pliable.

Chicken McNuggets contain:

Red Bull's best known ingredient, taurine, has been believed by many to come from bull sperm. In fact, it's synthesised in laboratories and occurs naturally in the bile glands of both humans and animals.

Along with taurine, a total of 17 ingredients make up the energy drink, including three colourings, 'Red #40', 'Blue #1' and 'Yellow #5'.

Eschliman and Ettlinger also explain the origin and purpose of what are 75 of the most commonly used additives.

For example, they found ethyl vanillin, which is used for butterscotch and rum, starts life as what they describe as "toxic, explosive benzene".

Another commonly used additive is shellac, which comes from insect larvae and is used to coat apples to make them look shiny.

Red Bull contains:


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