TikToker puts fast food under the microscope

A TikTok user uses his microscope to study something no one wants to look too closely at: Chick-fil-A chicken nugget.

Jake from TikToker (@closeintel) has over 176,000 followers on the app who follow his explorations of the microcosm. According to one of his biographies, his dream is to “teach people online about microbiology and create informative videos about different species… [and] basically all about an amazing tiny world within our world.”

Jake captures all sorts of incredible visuals with his microscope, but what really caught the attention of the wider TikTok audience was his exploration of what a Chick-fil-A chicken nugget looks like up close. At the time of publication, his footage was viewed by more than 7 million people.

“You won’t ruin it for me!” one of the commentators wrote. “Still eat it, I don’t care what’s in it!”

But Jake’s findings are actually quite surprising.

First, Jake looks at the skin of the nugget, where he says he sees a lot of spice, a lot of fat, and a few small, unidentifiable fibers that could have come from whoever packaged the food.

As for the meat, Jake thought it looked “pretty clean and good,” without the red or blue fibers he claimed he had previously found in McDonald’s chicken nuggets. The red and blue fibers found in the McDonald’s nuggets he shot in another video are believed to be microplastics, although Jake does not directly confirm this.

A 2021 study found that “too often” small amounts of phthalates, industrial chemicals used to soften plastics, are found in food from fast food outlets like McDonald’s. The study concluded that this contamination could have come from food handling gloves. Washington Post noted that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not limit the amount of phthalates in food.

Publication Catering business conducted a survey in 2018 which found that Chick-fil-A received the highest score in terms of “customer perceived cleanliness”. Hundreds of visitors were asked to rate fast food restaurants based on the cleanliness of the dining room, the cleanliness of the bathrooms, the cleanliness of the kitchen, and the cleanliness of the food preparation.

The notion that Chick-fil-A is the cleanest network seems to have been reflected in the comments of TikTok users on Jake’s video.

“After working in [Chick-fil-A] I can say that this is one of the most hygienic fast food establishments EVER and it uses real ingredients,” said one commenter.

“They are as clean as can be for fast food,” added another. “Not perfect, but not bad either.”

“Am I the only one nervous watching this?” someone joked.

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