The obvious answer is … a sesame seed bun, American cheese, special sauce, 100% beef patty, sliced pickles, shredded lettuce and onions… but here is a closer inspection of all the ingredients taken from the company’s own website.
We all know fast food is unhealthy and can have a devastating effect on our health, with many well documented studies proving this. But this comprehensive list of what is in just one burger is shocking, from the countries most popular fast food outlet.
Here are the “secret” ingredients:
BIG MAC BUN:Fresh bread really only uses 4 basic ingredients: flour, water, salt and yeast. But all the additives above are deemed necessary to provide a ridiculously long shelf life for these mass produced buns.
From the webite:
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 Sulfate, Calcium Carbonate, Ammonium Sulfate, 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 Seed.
CONTAINS: WHEAT AND SOY LECITHIN.
High fructose corn syrup is a common additive in processed food and has been dubbed one of the most dangerous. Excessive consumption of fructose leads to it being stored as fat in the liver. This leads to fatty liver disease and ultimately liver failure. ‘Fatty liver’ is currently one of the most prevalent diseases in the US today, with 90 million Americans estimated to be suffering from it. It is often a precursor to Type 2 diabetes.
High-fructose corn syrup also raises the risk of strokes, heart attacks, dementia and some cancers (i).
Studies have proven that refined salt is detrimental to our health owing to the chemical processes that strip it of any nutritional value. Refined salts also contain a cocktail of chemical additives including potassium iodide, sodium bicarbonate, solo-co-aluminate, and even fluoride and monosodium glutamate (MSG).
Fluoride and MSG have both been labelled as neurotoxins which are substances that affect on our nervous system producing behavioral, emotional, or body-movement abnormalities. They can be difficult for the body to eliminate.
Refined salt is also linked with hypertension, type 2 diabetes, obesity, water retention and gout. It also destroys the healthy gut bacteria leading to toxic a build up in the digestive tract. Refined salt is associated with mood fluctuations, as well as anxiety and depression (i).
These two ingredients alone are contributing to the epidemic of obesity that is engulfing our nation, often leading to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. They are also two highly addictive ingredients which make our body crave more of the same.
Azodicarbonamide is a chemical substance approved for use as a whitening agent in cereal flour and as a dough conditioner in bread baking. However it is also used in the plastics and rubber industry as a ‘foaming agent’ giving certain plastics products their light, buoyant quality ,including yoga mats and flip-flops. This chemical has been banned in the EU and Australia and has been linked to respiratory issues and allergies by the World Health Organization, which cites studies of workers exposed to relatively high levels. This ban means that burger buns in those countries do not contain this chemical.
It is approved however in the U.S. by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in foods at levels below 45 parts per million and consequently is currently found in many processed foods. Recently U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) called on the FDA to ban azodicarbonamide from all foods because it is “suspected to be a carcinogen….many countries in the developed world have banned this toxic chemical from food products, and it’s time for the U.S. to follow suit,”
Guar Gum is banned by the FDA in large amounts due to reports of the substance swelling and obstructing the intestines and esophagus.
Sorbic Acid has been studied by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the chemical is a strong irritant and—in large enough quantities—has the potential to cause severe damage to the tissues of the eyes, skin and respiratory tract.
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), Color Added, Soy Lecithin (Added for Slice Separation).
CONTAINS: MILK AND SOY LECITHIN
Surely cheese needn’t have all these added chemicals. An ex McDonald’s worker said that the cheese was developed to be able to left at room temperature all day without the need for refrigeration.
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 (Hydrolyzed Corn, Soy and Wheat), Caramel Color, Extractives of Paprika, Soy Lecithin, Turmeric (Color), Calcium Disodium EDTA (Protect Flavor).
CONTAINS: WHEAT, EGG AND SOY.
So for a small amount of sauce they need over 30 different ingredients. Yet more salt and the sugar is disguised under 4 different names and includes high fructose corn syrup (see above notes for the big mac bun)
Propylene glycol alginate is casually listed in amongst the spices but this is an ingredient found in engine coolants, antifreeze, shampoos as well as being used in pesticides, fungicides and herbicides (ii).
100% BEEF PATTY:
Ingredients: 100% Pure USDA Inspected Beef; No Fillers, No E
Prepared with Grill Seasoning (Salt, Black Pepper).
Although the patty’s have come under a great deal of scrutiny in the past this doesn’t sound too bad although “100% pure” actually means nothing. It may or may not be pure, and legally doesn’t need to include the chemicals/toxins used in the processing of the meat.
There’s been a tremendous amount of controversy over McDonald’s burgers since celebrity chef Jamie Oliver demonstrated how meat scraps and sinew are spun in a centrifuge and “washed” with ammonium hydroxide in the preparation of cheap meats for fast food outlets (see the video below).
Recently however, McDonald’s announced that “we made a decision to discontinue the use of ammonia-treated beef in our hamburgers”.
Of course without knowing sources and farming practices of those sources we do not know the quality of this meat – most cheap meat production uses cattle that have been fed huge amounts of antibiotics and hormones.
Ingredients: Cucumbers, Water, Distilled Vinegar, Salt, Calcium Chloride, Alum, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Natural Flavors (Plant Source), Polysorbate 80, Extractives of Turmeric (Color). Even the pickles aren’t left alone. Many people make their own tasty pickles and they certainly don’t add all of these ingredients.
SHREDDED LETTUCE AND ONIONS:
Simply lettuce and onions? Not a chance. The lettuce is also coated in propylene glycol, the same ingredient found in anti-freeze, as well as hydraulic and brake fluids. This to keep the lettuce crisp, bright green and fresh looking, but they don’t advertise that fact on their website.
The FDA has approved propylene glycol in foodstuffs but again many European countries allow it for non-food uses only.
McDonalds have reacted to consumer concerns in the UK and other European nations, by radically improving the quality of their sourcing in the past 20 years. All beef used by McDonald’s UK is sourced from farms in the UK & Eire, to strict local standards, including monitoring cattle regarding hormone and antibiotics.
If you do still 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.
You should know what you are putting in your body and be provided with all the facts to make informed choices.
All of the ingredients above have come straight from this official McDonald’s website.
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver demonstrates the ammonia-treated beef process in this short video: