Do you like homemade french fries? In my humble opinion, that’s the absolute yummiest way to enjoy them — nothing but potatoes, sea salt and coarse ground organic black pepper. Add to hot oil in a cast iron pan and you’ve got deliciousness. Simple, right?
If I’m in the mood for a gourmet spicy touch, I’ll add some cajun seasoning, italian seasoning, or garlic pepper seasoning. (I buy my spices from Mountain Rose Herbs, knowing they’re organic, sustainable, and fair trade.) But, honestly, that’s about as complex as my homemade french fries get.
McDonald’s french fries? Far from simple. And about as complex as fries can possibly get.
In an effort to be transparent, McDonald’s lists their products’ ingredients online. On page 18, you’ll find the list of their french fries’ ingredients. While I gotta give McDonald’s credit for that, I also found several items of concern:
- dimethylpolysiloxane — a chemical that, I kid you not, is used in silly putty, silicon caulking, and aquarium sealants; it’s added here as an antifoaming agent so that the hot oil doesn’t foam up in the fryers
- sodium acid pyrophosphate — a chemical that is classified by the FDA as “generally recognized as safe” but may be very hazardous upon skin or eye contact, inhalation or ingestion, and may cause severe inflammation; it’s used here to keep the potatoes from browning
- Canola Oil, Corn Oil, Soybean Oil — all of which are likely extracted from GMOs
- tertiary-Butylhydroquinone (aka TBHQ) — a petroleum-based butane-like chemical (yes, as in lighter fluid) that’s been linked to ADHD, asthma, skin conditions, hormone disruption, and cancer
Here’s an ingredient that’s not necessarily unnatural, but surprised me nonetheless — natural beef flavor.
If you’re vegan or vegetarian, or if you keep kosher or halal/zabiha, then clearly McDonald’s fries are not for you.
When Doris Lin, an animal rights activist, contacted McDonald’s through their website to inquire about the “natural beef flavor,” she received the following reply (emphasis mine):
“With regard to our French fries, any customer in the U.S. who contacts McDonald’s USA to ask if they contain beef flavoring is told “yes.” For flavor enhancement, in the U.S., McDonald’s French fry suppliers use a very small amount of beef flavor as a natural flavoring during the par-frying process at the potato processing plant. In the restaurant, the French fries are cooked in vegetable oil.
In addition, we have no plans to change the way we prepare our French fries in the U.S. However, it is important to know that our French fries are prepared differently in other countries.”