The Surprising Ingredients In The Boneless Wings You're Eating

Boneless wings are a lot more complicated than you might think. For one thing, they're not really wings, and more like glorified chicken nuggets (via Bon Appétit). Of course, that doesn't stop them from being delicious and a lot less messy than traditional wings. The only thing that might sour their otherwise delicious taste is the knowledge that they often contain additives not included in bone-in wings.

The next time you pick up a package of boneless wings at the store, take a look at the ingredients list and you'll probably find sodium phosphate somewhere on it. This additive is used to intensify flavor, maintain moisture, and preserve the texture of the meat, but it can have some potentially damaging side effects (via SF Gate). While the FDA deems it "generally regarded as safe," especially when found naturally occurring in foods, the artificial kind, like that found in boneless wings, is better absorbed by the body and can damage blood vessels in those with existing kidney issues. Not only that, it's very high in sodium, which can increase your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. And, unfortunately, that's just the beginning.

Even more surprising additives in boneless chicken wings

Sodium phosphate isn't the only additive to be wary of in your favorite boneless "wings." Scan the ingredients list even more closely and you might find flavorings like calcium disodium EDTA, which prolongs the shelf life of the meat as well as preserving the flavor and color (via Healthline). You might also see binding or emulsifying agents like guar gum, xanthan gum, propylene glycol alginate, or even transglutaminase, also known as "meat glue" (via The Seattle Times). This ingredient is exactly what it sounds like: a bonding agent used to glue proteins together to make a patty that will become your boneless wing. If you're wondering why these additives are necessary, it's partly because the bone and cartilage aren't there to provide moisture to the meat and prolong its shelf life. 

While these added ingredients are generally considered safe and don't have any clear, negative health implications at the doses present in most boneless wings, they start to stack up once you realize that even the boneless wings you'll find in restaurants may have the same number of calories as fast food nuggets, and even more trans fats per serving (via Eat This, Not That). All of this is to say that maybe making a chicken breast into a chicken wing requires more effort (and more additives) than it's worth. Food for thought.