It would be fair to assume that there are three ingredients in McDonald’s French fries: potatoes, oil, and salt. But if you assumed that you’d be far from correct.
Starting last year McDonald’s began a transparency campaign most likely to create a more health- and consumer-conscious image of the corporation. As a result the company has made their ingredient lists and processing techniques available on their website. Out of curiosity, I had to know exactly what is in those fries.
It turns out that there are 17 ingredients in MickeyD’s French fries! They contain:
-Potatoes (whew! I’m glad that was the first ingredient)
-Canola oil—Most canola oil is now genetically-modified.
-Hydrogenated soybean oil—Like canola oil, most soybean oil is now extracted from genetically-modified soybeans. Plus the hydrogenation process makes the oil more saturated than it would be in its natural form, and unhealthy.
-Safflower oil—Believed to be a healthier cooking oil, most safflower is unfortunately heated to high temperatures long before it is ever used for cooking, causing it to be chemically-altered from the heat, and a source of inflammation in the body when that is the case.
-”Natural flavor”—McDonald’s natural flavor is apparently obtained from a vegetable source, but the “natural” moniker means nothing since it can even potentially contain the nerve- and brain-toxin monosodium glutamate (MSG).
-Dextrose—a type of sugar.
-Sodium acid pyrophosphate—This ingredient is apparently used to maintain the color of the fries. On the chemical industry’s own safety data sheets it is listed as hazardous for ingestion, which is exactly what you’ll be doing if you eat those French fries.
-Citric acid—used as a preservative.
-Dimethylpolysiloxane—used as an anti-foaming agent, this industrial chemical is typically used in caulking and sealants and comes with a list of safety concerns.
-Vegetable oil for frying, which is a blend of 7 ingredients, including: canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with tert-butylhydroquinone (TBHQ), citric acid, and dimethylpolysiloxane. We discussed most of these ingredients above. Corn oil, like its canola and soybean counterparts is now primarily made of genetically-modified corn.
TBHQ is a petroleum-based, butane-like (yes, that’s lighter fluid!) ingredient used as a preservative. It has been linked to asthma, skin conditions, hormone disruption, and in long-term animal studies to cancer and damage to DNA.