Did anyone else see this eye-opening, scary article from The Alternative Daily about what’s in McDonald’s french fries? Yipes! I grew up in the era when McDonald’s was just taking off and almost everyone thought it was a great thing to have access to fast food. I remember when getting food from the drive-up window was a special family treat (yeah, I know I’m old and came from a home where no one had a real understanding of what good nutrition was).
Anyway, I used to eat my fair share of filet of fish sandwiches and fries, but as I became more aware and health conscious, I stopped. However, I have to admit that since then I would still partake of an order of fries once or twice a year for that taste and trip down memory lane. I knew the cooking oil McDonald’s used was likely very unhealthy, but figured that eating something that was basically just cooked potato couldn’t be all that bad. OMG! Wrong!
This article shows just how far away we in the US have gotten from real food. I still can’t believe, though, that something with all that stuff in it could taste good to my palate. Have to hand it to the “mad scientists” that came up with the recipe!
(photo from cookingwhims.com)
The Fourteen Ingredients in McDonald’s Fries Revealed!
Making a french fry is a pretty simple process. All it really takes is potatoes, some kind of fat, and salt. Some people may sprinkle a few spices on top for flavor. While the deep-frying process is definitely unhealthy, at least we all know what potatoes, oil and salt are.
McDonald’s, on the other hand, doesn’t keep their fries that simple. The franchise, amid plummeting sales, has released a series of videos showing how their foods are made, aiming to give consumers greater peace of mind.
In one video, Grant Imahara, the former host of the popular series “Mythbusters,” sets out to solve the mystery of the McDonald’s fry. However, while the tone of the video is assuring, and all 14 of the ingredients are described in innocuous terms, what the video actually accomplishes is showing us exactly why we should not be eating these little sticks of poison.
The first ingredient on the list
Potatoes: Ok, McDonald’s, you’re good so far…
Now, what about the oil used to partially fry them, before they are frozen?
Canola oil: You lost us, McDonald’s, and it didn’t take long. Canola oil, which doubles as an insecticide, is often made from GMO seeds, is highly processed, and often contains obesity and heart disease-promoting trans fats.
Soybean oil: As over 90 percent of the soybeans grown in the US are genetically modified, the oil most often is, too. Plus, it’s highly processed. Not good.
Hydrogenated soybean oil: Same processed soybean oil, processed even more to include trans fats. If you see “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” on a label, stay away.
Natural beef flavour: Wait, what? That’s right – McDonald’s fries contain traces of beef – or highly processed beef byproducts. Vegans and vegetarians, take note. Even if you’re fine with beef, when it comes to natural flavors, they can come from virtually anything.
Hydrolyzed wheat: Really? Not gluten free you mean? Are all those gluten intolerant and celiac sufferers out there aware of this? Bad choice again, McDonalds! To be fair, the acrylamide-producing, trans fat laden high heat oils used to cook the fires likely denature the proteins in the gluten – derisking it somewhat (or possibly entirely) for celiac and gluten intolerant individuals – but still – why even ‘go there’?
Hydrolyzed milk: Hydrolysis is basically an industrial process of “digesting” foods – in this case it is wheat (previous ingredient) and milk – with chemical agents. Yuck.
Citric acid: This one’s not too bad, as citric acid is naturally found in fruits and veggies. However, you can bet McDonald’s probably uses a processed version.
Dimethylpolysiloxane (a.k.a.Silly Putty): This is an anti-foaming agent also found in silly putty, plus various sealants, adhesives and lubricants. The processing of this agent allows for small amounts of formaldehyde to be present.
Now, a few more ingredients, sprinkled on the fries themselves…
Dextrose: A form of sugar. As we know, sugar is a major player in obesity, type 2 diabetes, tooth decay, heart disease, and more. A health nightmare.
Sodium acid pyrophosphate: This chemical stabilizer is added to the fries, according to the video, “to keep them from going gray.” In its raw form, sodium acid pyrophosphate can lead to severe inflammation, but for some reason, the FDA says it’s okay in our food in small amounts.
Salt: Salt in itself is essential to life, and real, unrefined salts are nutritious. However, refined, processed salt is a far cry from real, and a far cry from healthy.
Moving forward, the following ingredients are in the frying oil…..
Corn oil: Very likely made from GMO corn, through industrial processing.
TBHQ: This mysterious little ingredient is tertiary butylhydroquinone, a preservative derived from butane. In high doses, it is linked to DNA damage, behavior changes and other detrimental symptoms in lab animals. Appallingly, in the video, Imahara refers to TBHQ as, “an antioxidant that helps to preserve the freshness of the oil.”An “antioxidant” made from butane? C’mon.
Well, there you have it, folks. Does this recipe sound appealing to you? At the end of the video, Imahara reassuringly smiles at the camera and says, “so at the end of the day it’s not a Franken-fry composed of chemicals.”
Umm… Mr. Imahara, did you read the ingredients?
-The Alternative Daily
Update 2/9/15: I just came across this article that contains similar information, but answered one of the questions I had……I’ve read a number of times that food chains from the US serve healthier versions of everything at their locations in foreign countries. Amazing, but true! So I was wondering about the ingredients for their fries being sold elsewhere. It just goes to show how lax the laws are here for safeguarding our food and how apparently other countries have taken a stand and demanded better and gotten it, whereas the people in the US have not. Here’s the quote I’m referring to and you may want to read the rest of the post because it elaborates on certain ingredients:
Interestingly, Hari notes that McDonald’s fries are worse than those made in Europe. She writes that, compared to the U.S., french fries in the UK are primarily made of a few basic ingredients such as potatoes, vegetable oil, and some sugar and salt.
And another article that not only mentions companies having a healthier ingredient list for the products sold outside this country, but also touches on how flawed our food regulation system is:
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Disclaimer: Please note that any information here is provided as a guideline only, and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, and/or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.