McDonald’s –Even worse than I thought…

May 24, 2011

Photo by iboy_daniel

One of the biggest challenges of the paleo/primal lifestyle is trying to find something decent to eat when out and about, especially when out of town. Eating out when you can plan ahead and pick and choose from various menus, especially if you’re spending a little more, poses less of a problem. But re-fueling quickly and on the cheap is another story.

Up until now, I figured that occasionally grabbing a bite to eat from a fast food joint can’t be all that bad. How badly could they possibly screw up a salad with some grilled chicken or a bun-less burger? Well, I underestimated them. I knew the quality of the meat was questionable, that everything would be cooked in vegetable oils, and I always tried to avoid sauces. And although I wasn’t expecting a clean ingredient list, actually looking at it made me re-think fast food. The reason I even checked on the ingredients is because I had a rather unsettled stomach for hours after dinner. And I remember  being surprised at just how crappy the ingredients were for the Wendy’s salad I had in Vegas (which, when I think back, actually caused stomach problems afterward as well, I had just figured it was due to the lettuce not being all that fresh).

Someone please explain to me why it’s necessary to season something as basic and simple as a burger with all this crap?

Angus Burger Seasoning: Dextrose, salt, onion powder, maltodextrin, yeast extract, spice, natural and artificial flavor, beef broth, vegetable shortening (sunflower oil), partially hydrogenated cottonseed and soybean oil, garlic powder, caramel color, worcestershire sauce (vinegar, molasses, corn syrup, salt, caramel color, garlic powder, sugar, spices, tamarind, natural flavor), beef fat, annatto, turmeric, not more than 2% calcium silicate added to prevent caking.

If you’re keeping track, just in the seasoning alone, there are 5 potential sources of MSG (yeast extract, spices x 2, partially hydrogenated cottonseed and soybean oil). Not to mention all the other gross additives.

Even the mushrooms on the burger aren’t safe from MSG and artificial flavors:

Mushrooms: Mushrooms. Cooked on a grill lightly seasoned with trans fat free cooking spray (Canola oil, water, salt, hydrogenated cottonseed oil, soy lecithin, monoglycerides, potassium sorbate, artificial flavour and colour (annatto, turmeric), citric acid, vitamin A, vitamin D3)

And if you think that a simple salad with some grilled chicken might be a better option, think again:

Grilled Chicken Portion: Boneless chicken breast meat, water, seasoning (salt, potassium chloride, trehalose, sugar, rice starch, hydrolyzed corn protein, flavour (autolyzed yeast extract, salt, disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate), spices, dextrose, garlic powder, autolyzed yeast extract, carrageenan, chicken fat, dehydrated cooked chicken powder, silicon dioxide, caramel, onion powder, corn maltodextrin), modified rice starch, sodium phosphates. Cooked on a grill lightly seasoned with trans fat free cooking spray (Canola oil, water, salt, hydrogenated cottonseed oil, soy lecithin, monoglycerides, potassium sorbate, artificial flavour and colour (annatto, turmeric), citric acid, vitamin A, vitamin D3).

Considering how careful I am with reading labels on all my grocery store purchases, I can’t see myself being able to continue to turn a blind eye to the ingredients at places like McDonald’s or Wendy’s – even if it’s just the occasional meal. Considering what’s in their food, it’s surprising that they actually make all the ingredients public. Every time I look at those ingredients, I’m in disbelief at just how much crap is in there…

Avoiding McDonald’s, Wendy’s, etc. will definitely make eating while travelling harder. As always, I’ll continue to seek healthier food options when on the road.

If you can find a grocery store, the hot food/deli counter can be worthwhile – at least you can usually read the ingredients. What other suggestions do you have for eating on the go?

Leave a Comment


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Patty Pittman June 8, 2011 at 3:34 AM

One day last summer, my husband’s car broke down. We had to make many trips from the car to the car part store. We stopped at the local, McD’s and I ordered that Angus, lettuce and tomatoes only please.

I could see where the guy was putting it together and watched him put that seasoning on it. The lady gave me the burger. I told her that I saw him sprinkle something on it but that I had ordered it with only lettuce and toms. She (and she was a manager) said “that is how they come”. So I asked her what was in it. She said it was a special seasoning. I asked again. She didn’t know. I did get my burger without the stuff, but what a pain it is to try and get what you order at those places.


[email protected] June 8, 2011 at 8:18 AM

Yeah, if you try to change anything, first you get a blank stare, and then the order is highly likely to be wrong. I ordered that Angus burger bun-less. Simple enough, right? Came with the bun, of course.

Good on you for catching him putting on seasoning! I too thought I was just ordering a plain burger, and that the addition of cheese and mushrooms made it an “Angus”.


Claire May 18, 2012 at 4:02 PM

trans-fat free hydrogenated oil? how does that work?


[email protected] May 18, 2012 at 7:07 PM



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