I don’t take my kids to McDonalds. If I’m asked why, I always say that as kids, my parents never took me or my siblings so I never thought about going with my kids. But recently, they have started expressing an interest in going. Why? Because their school friends ask them what their favourite Happy Meal is and what is their favourite free toy? And fortunately, they can’t answer that question.
Rather than just give in to their recent curiosity, myself and my wife decided to carry out a little research and we decided to look up what really is in a Big Mac?
Here is what we discovered…
The answer is a sesame seed bun, American cheese, special sauce, 100% beef patty, sliced pickles, shredded lettuce and onions… right?
On closer inspection when perusing the US McDonald’s website there are over 72 ingredients that go into this world famous burger. Many of which I wouldn’t be happy putting in my (or my kids) mouths.
I can hardly refer to many of these ingredients as “food” as they are far from natural or providing your body with any form of nutrition. In fact, McDonald’s even refers to them as “components of their popular menu”, making them sound like pieces of man-made, processed products (which is exactly what they are).
We all know that fast food is unhealthy, but have you ever stopped to really inspect what the “secret” ingredients are?
Let’s lift the bun off the Big Mac and see what’s really inside…
Ingredients: Enriched Flour (Bleached Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup and/or Sugar, Yeast, Soybean Oil and/or Canola Oil, Contains 2% or Less: Salt, Wheat Gluten, Calcium Sulphate, Calcium Carbonate, Ammonium Sulphate, Ammonium Chloride, Dough Conditioners (May Contain One or More of: Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, DATEM, Ascorbic Acid, Azodicarbonamide, Mono and Diglycerides, Ethoxylated Monoglycerides, Monocalcium Phosphate, Enzymes, Guar Gum, Calcium Peroxide), Sorbic Acid, Calcium Propionate and/or Sodium Propionate (Preservatives), Soy Lecithin, Sesame
CONTAINS: WHEAT AND SOY LECITHIN.
Wow! That’s a lot of ingredients just to make a burger bun. It definitely doesn’t look anything like the traditional days of just 4 simple ingredients: flour, water, salt and yeast.
High fructose corn syrup and sodium sound tempting? Those ingredients are two of the best serial killers in the world! They get away with murder, causing an epidemic of obesity and seeing a nation struggling with heart disease and diabetes. So why do they put it in? Because it’s addictive and makes your body crave more!
How about some azodicarbonamide on the side? This is a delicious (note the sarcasm) bleaching agent that is a known carcinogen.
PASTEURIZED PROCESSED AMERICAN CHEESE:
Ingredients: Milk, Cream, Water, Cheese Culture, Sodium Citrate, Contains 2% or Less of: Salt, Citric Acid, Sodium Phosphate, Sorbic Acid (Preservative), Lactic Acid, Acetic Acid, Enzymes, Sodium Pyrophosphate, Natural Flavor (Dairy Source), Colour Added, Soy Lecithin (Added for Slice Separation). CONTAINS: MILK AND SOY LECITHIN
I don’t know about you, but that definitely doesn’t sound like cheese to me. It sounds like the chemicals for a science experiment.
Notice how the recognizable ingredients are always listed first, followed by the “secret” formula.
BIG MAC SAUCE:
Ingredients: Soybean Oil, Pickle Relish (Diced Pickles, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sugar, Vinegar, Corn Syrup, Salt, Calcium Chloride, Xanthan Gum, Potassium Sorbate [Preservative], Spice Extractives, Polysorbate 80), Distilled Vinegar, Water, Egg Yolks, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Onion Powder, Mustard Seed, Salt, Spices, Propylene Glycol Alginate, Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Mustard Bran, Sugar, Garlic Powder, Vegetable Protein (Hydrolysed Corn, Soy and Wheat), Caramel Colour, Extractives of Paprika, Soy Lecithin, Turmeric (Colour), Calcium Disodium EDTA (Protect Flavour).
CONTAINS: WHEAT, EGG AND SOY.
Well, for a start there are 33 ingredients in this sauce (33!!), 4 of which are sugars, including the silent killers: High Fructose Corn Syrup and Sodium. The real clincher in this sauce however, is propylene glycol alginate (nicely hidden in between the spices). What is propylene glycol? Well, it’s an ingredient found in anything from anti-freeze and engine coolants, to shampoo, to… well, the big mac sauce. Tasty?
100% BEEF PATTY:
Ingredients: 100% Pure USDA Inspected Beef; No Fillers, No Extenders.
Prepared with Grill Seasoning (Salt, Black Pepper).
Doesn’t sound so bad? Well for one, ALL beef in the US has to be USDA inspected, otherwise it would be illegal! The fact they market their beef as “100% pure” actually means nothing. It’s like claiming their pickles are made out of 100% pickle! It may or may not be pure and legally doesn’t need to include the chemicals/toxins used in the processing of the meat. All smoke and mirrors! Let’s keep going…
Ingredients: Cucumbers, Water, Distilled Vinegar, Salt, Calcium Chloride, Alum, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Natural Flavours (Plant Source), Polysorbate 80, Extractives of Turmeric (Colour).
Come on!! It’s a pickle!! How can a food this simple and traditionally healthy, end up being so harmful for your health? Did you know that when cucumbers are lacto-fermented they have the ability to dissolve the stone forming uric acid that can result from eating certain meat? Well, these faux-pickles certainly don’t do that.
SHREDDED LETTUCE AND ONIONS:
Thank goodness!! It’s actually lettuce and onions!
I understand that it’s impossible for everyone to avoid fast-food restaurants, and that sometimes you are limited on food choices, especially on long-haul drives across the country. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know what you are putting in your body and be provided with all the facts to make informed choices.
If you want to indulge in fast food, just try to keep it as an irregular occurrence, as all those toxins and chemicals can do serious harm to your body, especially if you are consuming them on a regular basis.
My kids are still a little young to understand the above but as a parent and proponent of good clean food, I fully understand the long term effects of eating this junk. I will keep them away from this food until they are old enough to understand the effects. Once they fully understand, then I guess they can make their own choices….
*All of the ingredients above have come straight from this official McDonald’s PDF.