Social Question

jca's avatar

Are the amount of chemicals in the food you eat (or don't eat) an issue to you (for example the McDonald's McRib Sandwich ingredient list, articles linked here)?

Asked by jca (36043points) November 14th, 2013

I had a conversation on Facebook today with some people after linking an article and photo of a piece of frozen McDonalds McRib meat. I am linking two of the articles here for those interested.

The topic of chemicals in our food was the likely result of the discussion.

One person said there are so many chemicals in our food, many are relatively innocent things yet have scary sounding names. She pointed out that something we wash our floors with is something we can eat (vinegar).

One of the people in the discussion was a Jelly, and so I am hoping she will see this question and respond here, and it will be an interesting Fluther discussion.

To me, the long ingredient list of the McRib coupled with the fact that McDonalds is known for loading its food with chemicals, is reason enough to avoid it as much as possible.

I don’t want this discussion to be about the McRib exclusively, but chemicals in our food in general. Do you try to eat the simplest food possible, or is that not usually an issue for you?

When you see the photo of the frozen McRib meat plus read the articles, you will have a better idea of what I am talking about. If you are limited with time, just look at the photo.

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78 Answers

Dutchess_III's avatar

And the photo is just what meat looks like when it’s flash frozen. Any meat will look like that. The fact that it’s been chopped and pressed into that shape isn’t particularly appealing to me, but…that’s how we do it with hamburgers too. Past too.
Wendy’s presses their hamburger into squares…or they used to.

glacial's avatar

Well… everything we eat is a chemical of some sort. I don’t think the word “chemical” is necessarily a bad word, just as “natural” is not necessarily a good word. Sugar is C6H12O6, salt is NaCl. I eat sugar and salt.

I do try to avoid highly processed foods, foods with additives and preservatives. In other words, I try to eat only food. And if it doesn’t have an expiry date that makes sense, I’m not interested. To quote your details, I try to eat “the simplest food possible”.

I’m sure this is exactly what you’re asking about – the things that are listed on ingredient labels that don’t immediately call up a mental image of a food. It’s just a pet peeve of mine that things with “sciency” labels are supposed to mean “evil”.

zenvelo's avatar

It is a concern for me. I follow Michael Pollan’s Food Rules as best I can. Among the most relevant to this thread:

6. Avoid food products that have more than 5 ingredients
7. Avoid food products containing ingredients that a third‐grader cannot pronounce
18. Don’t ingest foods made in places where everyone is required to wear a surgical cap
19. If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.

YARNLADY's avatar

I’m convinced additives in the food and poisons in the air are the cause of the increase in Bi-Polar, Autism, allergies, and obesity, plus many more ailments.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Also, as noted, many of those “chemicals” are found in the buns…but those same “chemicals” are found in the flour you buy at the store that you use to make your “homemade” bread with. Some chemicals in flour include:

Potassium bromate
Benzoyl peroxide
Ascorbic acid
Chlorine gas
Azodicarbonamide or azobisformamide
Sodium benzoate
Tricalcium phosphate
Butylated hydroxyanisole

@zenvelo so you’d rather the people handling your foods not be required to wear hair nets to stop hair from falling in your food, or gloves? They take those precautions, not for themselves, but for the end consumer.

jca's avatar

I believe the point of the hair net issue is that if food is in it’s simplest form, i.e. an apple, there’s no processing in a plant required, therefore no hair nets required.

Pollan did make that point and it’s good to be noted here. He talked about how food companies (like Kraft for example) don’t want us to eat oatmeal, fruit, etc. They want us to eat processed food, i.e. granola bars – putting as many steps between the food and the consumer as possible.

zenvelo's avatar

@Dutchess_III There is a difference between a hair net (as worn in a kitchen restaurant) and a surgical cap to prevent worker damage. Read the whole sentence; it’s about avoiding processed food.

Dutchess_III's avatar

What purpose does the surgical cap serve? It can’t protect the worker from anything. Even a surgeon wears one to protect the patient, not himself.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Also, there are no foods that are “made” in a plant. The foods we eat from the grocery store are processed in a plant. Processing may be as simple as cutting up a cow into steaks, roasts, hamburger (which requires the extra process of grinding it up) etc. Even apples are processed to a certain extent. They wind up on a conveyer belt where the workers select apples of like size and ripeness, and discard sub-standard fruits, and pack them up for enmasse whole sale. And we would not like to open a sack of apples to find hairs in the sack, even if it wouldn’t hurt us.

It’s not like we have a tribe or a town of only 50 people to feed any more. Plus the practices they have in place now ensures much safer handling of the food than we have ever had in the past, even better than what many practice in their own homes.

jca's avatar

I suggest reading Omnivores’ Dilemma. It’s a great book and would benefit everyone who reads it.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

I avoid many chemicals simply by almost never eating prepackaged boxed meals.

Life is too short for that shit anyway.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, what kinds of food is in your cabinets and refrigerator, @SecondHandStoke?

JLeslie's avatar

I think the fewer the chemicals the better. I have often wondered why frozen food needs any preservatives. It’s frozen! That preserves. Other chemicals for coloring, I don’t stress out about it, but it’s so unnecessary to me. If we packaged and made everything in it’s natural state we would become accustomed to the color.

I was just saying the McRib, which has been advertised a lot lately on my TV, has no appeal to me. I’ll eat a chicken nugget, which everyone thinks is gross, but the fake rib sandwich just ain’t happening.

I am not so worried that it is pressed or molded into a shape, more worried about chemicals and if any nerves and bone are accidentally crushed in things like that. Same as sausage. I actually lean towards buying pork sausage usually, because I worry more about beef in cases like that, since mad cow is seen more in cows obviously.

Dutchess_III's avatar

That’s just it….they’re frozen @JLeslie. They DON’T need any additional preservatives. The bread does, though. But not much more than what’s in the bread we buy at the store.

I don’t think there is any more chance of nerve or bone crushed into the McRib than there is in a pound of hamburger, or any other ground food we buy.

jca's avatar

According to the Gothamist article, the bread in the McRib has 35 ingredients.

In Omnivore’s Dilemma, Pollan talks about how so much of our food (fast food especially) is made with corn. Corn is so prevalent that it’s almost unavoidable (in the bread, in the ketchup, in the fillers in the meat).

McDonalds is notorious for their food having a ton of preservatives. I think there was a photo essay done a while back (a few years maybe) where they photographed a McD’s burger on a plate and how it did not change in appearance over a significant length of time (few months? year?).

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yeah, I saw that. Turns out it was left in cold, dry conditions. Mold and bacteria don’t develop in cold, dry conditions. I’ll try and find the article on that.

Did you know that McD’s won’t use American beef in their hamburgers because American cattle are corn fed and don’t meet the their standards for leanness? They import their beef from Australia where the cattle are range fed. Here

Nimis's avatar

My friend lost 40lbs just by cutting out packaged foods. Really shocking to me because I didn’t think he had 40lbs to lose.
He was not a big guy to begin with.

I’m always skeptical about diets. But this makes sense to me.
Too bad I don’t have the discipline for it.

annabee's avatar

It depends on the chemical, but most of them are harmful in various degrees, and there really is no reason to use chemicals when you can easily make/preserve something with natural/organic ingredients. However, not all natural/organic products contain natural/organic ingredients either, even though they label as such. A lot of them still contain harmful ingredients. Some natural/organic ingredients are harmful on their own. Like I mentioned before as an example, aloe vera leaf juice is toxic when taken internally, but is very good when applied externally (skin). The good ones, which is the only kind I buy, will cost you a lot more though, or if you’re willing to put in the time, you can make it yourself.

There is an excellent site that can be used as a guide when using products that contain chemical ingredients. EWG Just find the list of ingridients of the product you wish to buy or already bought, and copy paste it to the ewg search engine. It will tell you how harmful the chemical is, what harm it causes, and the scientific studies that were done. Or you can try typing the products name and if it is in the database, it will tell you about it as well.

Sometimes to find the good products, you would have to manually copy/paste each ingredient in to see how safe it is. I, personally, have everything tested in a private lab before I become a full time customer. It is just a precaution to make sure I’m getting what I pay for.

Like I said in another question, natural products such as fish and salt can also be highly contaminated by the environment it resides in. For example, salmon is contaminated with mercury, but sockeye salmon (wild salmon) is not contaminated because it eats zooplankton and seaweed and comes from Alaska or Norwegian waters (clean waters).

Dutchess_III's avatar

Natural / organic ingredients all have natural / organic chemicals in them .

annabee's avatar

Your point?

SecondHandStoke's avatar



I cook, lots.

Making meals for one’s self doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming.

My wife fears NO food. I more or less draw the line at insects. Just can’t do it.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Just because there is a “chemical” or “chemicals” in food doesn’t automatically mean they’re bad for you. Salt is a chemical compound. Too much salt is not good. Not enough salt in your diet is not good either.

I cook my own food too @SecondHandStoke.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

We both know that’s not what the OP meant.

Dutchess_III's avatar

The OP’s concern was about the “chemicals” that are supposed to be found in the McRib. MOST of those chemicals are found in the bun, not in the actual pork used to make the McRib. The pork is just pork.

Those same “chemicals” are found in the flour we use to make our breads at home.

annabee's avatar

Its not just pork though. Ingredients of McRib Patty: Boneless pork (Pork, water, salt, dextrose, citric acid, BHA, TBHQ).

BHA is a potentially harmful link as is TBHQ.

livelaughlove21's avatar

I don’t pay much attention to it. I more concerned about calories.

The McRib is fucking nasty.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I agree @livelaughlove21!

BHA and TBHQ are found in many of our foods, not just fast foods. In small quantities they aren’t harmful and are, in fact, useful.

hearkat's avatar

We buy as much food directly from the farmer and make most of our food from scratch. We try to choose restaurants with a farm-to-table philosophy as often as possible. We’re picking up a half-a-lamb (that’s been butchered) this weekend from a farm the is 300 years old in its 13th generation in the same family.

SecondHandStoke's avatar


I understand it reappears when pork reaches a certain low in price.

But I just don’t get it.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t get the McRib either. I’ve never liked it. But I like much of McDonald’s other foods, especially their breakfast. AND Wendy’s. AND Long John Silvers. AND Arby’s. And Taco Tico…although Taco Tico seems to be on its way out. :(

I enjoy sit down restaurants immensely too, the rare times that we go, although I know their food has as many “chemicals” in it, or more, than fast food, because they don’t have the same fast turn-around time.

@hearkat that’s cool that you do that.

livelaughlove21's avatar

Mmmmm, Arby’s.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I would love their French dip, but the dip is soooo salty. :(

SecondHandStoke's avatar

Too bad for Jous.

jca's avatar

I don’t know. When I just looked at the Gothamist article quickly, it says the meat has a chemical in it that’s a flour bleaching agent commonly used in the production of foam gym mats. That’s one thing I saw with my quick perusal. I also saw something about carcinogenicity and it didn’t look like a simple ingredient list as if you were to take a hunk of pork and cook with some barbecue sauce, it looked like a whole shitload of crap in that sandwich.

Coloma's avatar

I’m much more of a sugar-aholic than a fast food-aholic. I could live forever without a burger and fries, but ice cream, raisinettes, whoppers and ginger cookies and pie…ooh man.
I eat well and take my chemicals in beer and cheesecake, thanks, I feel just great.
Just breathing is a chemical cocktail, pick your poison there’s plenty of it as I always say.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@jca The Gothamist website is designed to freak people out. The wording of the article, “Can You Handle The Truth About Your Beloved McRib?” tells you that. Also, in the address bar it says, “the_disgusting_depressing_truth_behind…” You can put a gross spin on virtually anything.

The bleaching agent is in the flour. It’s in the same flour you buy off the shelves.

Would you eat something that can also be used as a household cleaner?

Would you smoke your meat with an agent that is commonly used in wood flooring and construction?

One of the chemicals in table salt is used in the production of hydrochloric acid!

OpryLeigh's avatar

I try not to worry about it. For the most part I have an “everything in moderation” outlook on the food I eat and I won’t deny myself a treat every so often just because it’s considered unhealthy. I don’t eat enough junk food like MacDs etc for it to be an issue but I do enjoy it as a treat and only as a treat.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’m the same way. I mean, if you broke every bite of food down into its component parts / chemical makeup and stressed over it…well, it would be a great way to lose weight.

momster's avatar

A year ago I stopped buying food for my family that contains refined, processed, and artificial ingredients. I do a lot of cooking and baking from scratch using whole foods. If I buy packaged foods, I buy things made with 100% whole grains, natural sweeteners, ingredients I can recognize and would cook with at home, and nothing artificial.

Not everyone thinks this is necessary, but I strongly feel it was the right choice for my family. My child with chronic constipation hasn’t been constipated for months. My child who used to have a breakdown over having to sit and do his homework now does it without even being asked and is getting all As and Bs in school. My joint pain disappeared. Of course this is all anecdotal but I would never go back to buying processed crap again.

We stopped eating fast food ages ago, and one of the reasons is the ridiculous list of ingredients. I make rolls for hamburgers and sandwiches and the ingredients are: whole wheat flour, milk, egg, yeast, honey, salt. The bread you buy in the store would have an extremely short shelf life if it had only those ingredients. There is no bleaching agent in the whole wheat flour, no dough conditioners, preservatives, colorings, or flavorings needed. I’m lucky to work at home and have time for baking but anyone can take a few extra minutes when shopping to buy the bread without the extra additives or read the back of the frozen waffle packages to choose the least processed option. Sometimes it’s as simple as switching brands (Annie’s Mac and Cheese instead of Kraft, for example).

Eating this way at home is more time consuming. In some ways it costs more, although we do save a lot of money by not buying packages of pre-made food. It’s important to me though so I make the time and effort. When we are at someone else’s home or at a restaurant, we eat what is served and that’s fine, but at home we stick to real foods with a treat from time to time. I don’t make it a huge issue because I don’t want my kids to have hangups over food, but we talk about the difference between real food and junk food and they are learning to read labels. One of the most eye opening things for my kids was reading the ingredients for their favorite strawberry yogurt and finding out it didn’t contain any actual strawberries.

And yes, food is all made up of chemicals, but I can choose to eat food that is only made of what nature intended instead of food with man-made chemicals or artificial stuff added to it. There’s a big difference between sea salt and artificial coloring made from petroleum. One I would be OK with adding to my food, the other, definitely not.

Smitha's avatar

I don’t worry much about it. I eat out occasionally (1 – 2 times per month). Anything in moderation is ok. After all homemade food is healthier for us as we know what we are eating.

Coloma's avatar

Moderation as always, is key.
People that lived on wormy cornmeal and salt pork and lard, beans and potatoes 150 years ago were probably getting less nutrition than a diet of junk food today.
Every era has it’s +‘s and -‘s , I’d rather eat a cheese burger than a hunk of salt pork any day of the week. lol

Dutchess_III's avatar

Wheat contains phenolic compounds, which are found in ferulic acid. Phenols are a class of chemical compounds consisting of a hydroxyl group (—OH) bonded directly to an aromatic hydrocarbon group. It’s chemical compound is C6H5OH. The acidity of the hydroxyl group in phenols is commonly intermediate between that of aliphatic alcohols and carboxylic acids (their pKa is usually between 10 and 12). Some phenols are germicidal and are used in formulating disinfectants. Others possess estrogenic or endocrine disrupting activity.

Eggs: Niacin (an organic compound with the formula C6H5NO,2), Pantothenic Acid (Pantothenic acid is the amide between pantoic acid and β-alanine, ) Thiamin (This colorless, water-soluble solid is a derivative of pyridine, with a carboxyl group (COOH) at the 3-position), Pyridoxine (It is based on a pyridine ring, with hydroxyl, methyl, and hydroxymethyl substituents. It is converted to the biologically active form pyridoxal 5-phosphate.), Folate (Folate is composed of the aromatic pteridine ring linked to para-aminobenzoic acid and one or more glutamate residues. Folic acid is itself not biologically active, but its biological importance is due to tetrahydrofolate and other derivatives after its conversion to dihydrofolic acid in the liver,) Lutein + Zeaxanthin.

Milk: Milk is an emulsion or colloid of butterfat globules within a water-based fluid that contains dissolved carbohydrates and protein aggregates with minerals.

That’s just a short list. Do you really want to put all those chemicals in your family’s bodies?

Coloma's avatar

@Dutchess_III Well…the old folks homes are full of 80, 90, 100 something people that grew up on DDT soaked veggies, lived in homes full of abestos, smoked, drank, and they they still are. Bottom line, the human body is VERY resilient and can take a LOT of abuse before it breaks down.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Exactly. It’s SO overblown. I mean, seriously….wheat contains compounds ”.. that are used in formulating disinfectants.” So now we run screaming to the internets about how dangerous eating wheat is? They use it to make disinfectants!!!!!

I grew up eating whatever my Mom put in front of me. (Except not SOS. I hated that shit!) And then I ran it all off, whatever it was.

Coloma's avatar

^^^ Agreed. :-)
Bottom life, life causes death, eat, drink and be merry I say, for tomorrow is not promised. Or, slide out sideways, wine in one hand, chocolate in the other. lol

YARNLADY's avatar

@Coloma Not to mention Lead based paint. I also remember using liquid mercury as a toy. I once got my science teacher to give me a small jar of it to coat my hand to play robot, and turn pennies into dimes.

Coloma's avatar

@YARNLADY Haha….and I bet you’ll make to a 100 yet. :-)

momster's avatar

@Dutchess_III I am not sure what point you are trying to make. Yes, I would put foods into my body that, in their natural state, contain naturally occurring chemicals. What a lot of people have a problem with is the way the food industry in recent decades (not way back when our grandparents were young) has been adding artificial ingredients to foods during processing. A chemical that naturally occurs in a food item such as milk, eggs, or apples is, to many people, quite different from an artificially made chemical that is then added to the food. Similarly, some processes, such as refining flour and other grains, strip those foods of their nutrition. These refining processes also involve the use chemicals. Skim milk is not just milk with the fat removed. The orange juice you buy in the store is not just orange juice. Both of those products are chemically altered then reflavored to make them shelf stable and palatable. The labels don’t spell this out for you because, thanks to food lobbyists and influential agribusiness, doing such things to foods and still calling them only milk or only orange juice is perfectly legal.

When my grandmother was young, she couldn’t pop over to the store and buy skim milk. It was a waste product. She couldn’t buy shredded cheese with wood pulp added (that’s why it doesn’t clump together in the package) and meats weren’t loaded up with antibiotics or arsenic. The food industry has changed drastically in recent years with more and more focus on profit and repeat business than quality and health. Comparing what people ate 50 or 75 or 100 years ago to what people eat today is like comparing apples to Big Macs.

Yes, we face a challenge to efficiently feed the world’s growing population. While it’s probably unrealistic to think that everyone on the planet can be fed with local, organic, whole, fresh foods, the opposite doesn’t have to be true. I’m sure food companies could find a middle ground between responsibility and profit, but they won’t do it on their own. It will take an awareness of current food practices and people showing their priorities with their dollars. When Kraft’s practice of making mac and cheese for the UK market without petroleum based food coloring while still selling the original artificially colored product in the US started to get a lot of press, they finally took the artificial colors out of some of their products in the US. Not all, but it’s a start.

You could get into the link between poverty and obesity, the link between federal subsidies and processed food (why is fresh food so much more expensive than junk food that’s been through so many processes and shipped all over the world?), the difficulty small farms have in staying in business, the link between processed foods and the top health issues in our country, and probably a dozen other food related topics, and start to feel like some kind of conspiracy theorist spouting off about agribusiness and pharmacological giants and conflicts of interest in the government, but that’s exhausting.

Bottom line is people will make their own choices, but to pretend that a local, farm fresh egg from a free range, organically raised chicken is as chemically dangerous as a pack of Slim Jims from the corner gas station is ridiculous.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Last bunch of eggs I got from a farmer were spoiled. It was nasty.

Did you know that McD’s only imports free range raised cattle from Australia and such places for their beef? American cows don’t meat their requirements for leanness. The other fast food places buy their beef from American farmers.

They add preservatives to the buns, but not to the meat. They don’t have any reason to add preservatives to the meat.
They’ve been adding the same “chemicals” to flour for a hundred years. I, for one, prefer not to have to throw out a loaf of bread after 3 days because it’s gone moldy.

glacial's avatar

@Dutchess_III You keep saying this thing about Australian beef. From the McDonalds website:

“McDonald’s is the largest purchaser of American beef in the U.S., and we do not buy beef from South America. In order to keep up with our requirements for lean beef, we do import a very small percentage of beef from suppliers in Australia and New Zealand, who are required to meet the exact same high quality and safety standards as our U.S. suppliers.”

I also can’t find any indication that they use meat from “free-range cattle”. Everything I’ve read says that they are corn-fed.

livelaughlove21's avatar

“Did you know that McD’s only imports free range raised cattle from Australia and such places for their beef?”

I’m pretty sure we all know that at this point. You mention it every single time the McDonalds subject comes up on here. And I think you even already said it in this thread. ;)

ETA: Ah, @glacial beat me to it. And debunked it. I suspected it was BS.

I eat fast food and I don’t worry about chemicals and all that, but I’m not under some misguided impression that it’s not super unhealthy.

momster's avatar

That’s lovely. Good for McDonald’s. I kind of doubt that’s true, but whatever. I would still never eat there for about a million other reasons. Who cares where they get their beef? Their food is crap and doesn’t even taste good. They even managed to take oatmeal and turn it into a junk food! Seriously, there is not one thing on their menu, or any other fast food place’s menu (including Subway), that I would feel comfortable feeding my family.

I have never thrown out a loaf of bread because of mold. I guess buying or making the right amount for our needs and knowing how to store it properly helps. I do have to go to the store twice a week now instead of once a week, usually for produce, bread, and milk, but its worth it for the difference I’ve seen in our health since cutting out the crap and chemicals.

momster's avatar

Also, I just looked into it and there is nothing added to whole wheat flour. Just whole wheat. I think you are talking about white flour.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@glacial I hadn’t seen that. So I stand corrected. I was going off of this article in Snopes.

@momster That’s true. It’s the bleaching agents that is added to the flour that constitute most of the “chemicals.”

Whole wheat is much higher in gluten than bleached though. You know some people have a real issue with that. It doesn’t bother me a bit. I just prefer the texture of white bread.

I have no medical issues, personally, with any foods at all.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Wait…I reread the article from the link @glacial provided. It’s saying the same thing as the Snopes article, only it’s much shorter. The Snopes article provides quite a bit more detail.

They don’t buy beef from South America. They buy a percentage, about 1%, (per Snopes) from New Zealand and Australia, where the cattle is free range and the standard for leanness are much higher than in America.

The thing that’s interesting to me is so many Amercians get their undies in a bundle over our corn fed, antibiotic injected cattle, but when McDonalds address that concern Americans get their undies in a bundle because they aren’t buying American!

glacial's avatar

@Dutchess_III Exactly. You have been saying that McDonalds doesn’t use US beef, and that it buys all its beef from Australia instead, because somehow the quality of Australian beef is higher.

My quote from McDonalds shows that this is not true. Most of their beef does, in fact, come from the US, with only a small percentage from other countries like Australia. They do not claim that the standards are higher in Australia. What they say is that the beef that they import from Australia must meet the high standards of the beef they buy in the US. In other words, there is no claim that US beef is somehow “below standard”.

The information in the Snopes article seems to be correct – but you seem to have been drawing “facts” from it that are not there. The article never says anything about any of McDonalds beef cattle being free range. I still don’t know where you are getting that from. And McDonalds is not buying from Australia for quality reasons – they are buying from Australia because they can’t meet their demand with US beef alone.

No one is saying here that US beef is unhealthy. We’re saying that what McDonalds does with that beef is unhealthy. You won’t catch me going anywhere near a McDonalds for anything but free wifi.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Right. As I said, I stand corrected @glacial. I promise I won’t bring that link up again. Pinky swear.

However, I don’t believe McDonalds does anything dastardly with their beef other than add salts and seasonings to make the taste uniform. They process it and flash freeze it so quickly they don’t need to add any preservatives or any other chemicals. It would be a complete waste of time and money, and profits would go down. They go through their beef faster than we go through our beef that hangs around in the freezer for weeks or months before it’s cooked.

This article on Australian beef is interesting. It would appear their standards are more complex and must meet more requirements than those set by the USDA. It doesn’t mean the USDA requirements are below standard. The USDA just isn’t as stringent as Australia. From the article “Most U.S. customers are satisfied with the existing commodity system, and risk-averse producers are reluctant to adopt and/or document production practices that increase cost without some assurance of higher revenues in return.

glacial's avatar

@Dutchess_III It may be true that they go through beef quickly, but they also need to make sure nothing can grow on it for the length of time that their minimum-wage, minimum-training food handlers interact with it. And investing money in the safety of the food is their top priority, above the quality or taste of the food, because they don’t want to be a lawsuit magnet.

Do please provide evidence that all they do to their beef is add salt and seasonings. Can’t wait to see that.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’m lookin, I’m lookin! I’m finding plenty of answers that confirm what I’m saying on the McDonald’s websites (and Snopes) but I once came across a very well written, impartial article on the subject a while back. I’m trying to find it again….

Man there is a lot of hysteria out there!

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, found this article about the never-rotting hamburger.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Here an article that answers your question about the “minimum-wage, minimum-training food handlers interact with it.”
Obviously it doesn’t have time to grow anything because they’re frozen when they put them on the double sided grill.

glacial's avatar

@Dutchess_III If they are not worried about what grows on the meat, why have they been washing it in ammonia all these years?

Dutchess_III's avatar

I saw that….I’ll look at it again.

I’m kinda tired and want to take a shower, so I quit looking for that article. From Snopes “McDonald’s hamburger patties in the U.S. are made with 100% USDA-inspected beef. They are cooked and prepared with salt, pepper and nothing else; no preservatives — no fillers.
Read more at"

I’m saying, they don’t NEED preservatives. Why add something to the meat that isn’t needed? It’s not cost effective.
The bread, yes. The fries, not sure. But the beef, no.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Found this in wikipedia discribing Amonium hydroxide: In food production, ammonium hydroxide is used as a leavening agent or acidity regulator and is classified by the Food and Drug Administration as generally recognized as safe (GRAS).[7] ”

I’m not seeing where they ‘washed’ the meat in amonium hydroxide. I’m just seeing it in relation to the infamous “pink slime,” which involves chicken…and is safe. It’s simply gross to look at and that’s enough for some people..

Dutchess_III's avatar

OK, I found where it applies to beef. It’s a process that allows the meat processing company to use every bit of meat that they can. You might peruse this Wiki explanation of pink slime. It’s use certainly wasn’t limited to McDonalds.

Excerpt: In March 2012, ABC News ran a series of news reports about the product, including claims that approximately 70 percent of ground beef sold in U.S. supermarkets contained the additive at that time.

The FDA said it was safe, and I’m sure it was. We all ate a bunch of it! Don’t know if they still use it though. McDonalds hasn’t since 2011 even though it wasn’t hurting anyone.

it was the words “Amonium hydroxide” that freaked people out.

livelaughlove21's avatar

* munching on chicken nuggets from McDonalds while reading thread *

glacial's avatar

It’s not the words ammonium hydroxide that freak me out (if you recall, my first post on this question was about this subject). It’s the fact that they used it. There is more, about the “meat glue” used to hold it all together. And about what the cows that McDonalds buys are eating. The discussion about whether their meat is healthy does not stop at salt and pepper.

“Other companies used it too” is not an argument that it’s good for human consumption.

Anyway, if you like it, and you don’t think the risk is significant, by all means keep eating it; I take no issue with that. Just please don’t promote it as “great quality!” and “completely safe!”

Dutchess_III's avatar

I believe it is as healthy as any other beef we get here in the US. As far as the ammonium hydroxide, the USDA, the FDA say it is safe in the amounts used in commercial beef and chicken industry. Of course, their standards aren’t as high as those in some other countries, like Australia. McDonalds doesn’t use it anymore, but the grocery stores do. Probably the other fast food chains do too.

McDonalds, more than any other fast food chain, is under the microscope. In my opinion, that ensures a lot of quality compliance, more than is found in any private kitchen.

So much of what we worry about is based only on perception and not understanding certain properties. That’s how that guy got away with the infamous Di hydrogen monixide hoax

I’ve never seen anything about “meat glue.” Why would they need meat glue any more than someone hosting a hamburger barbque?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Hey….would you ever consume something that contained acetic acid? “Acetic acid is produced by the fermentation of ethanol by acetic acid bacteria.” I clean my floors with it. I also eat it in some foods.

glacial's avatar

@Dutchess_III I don’t know why you’re pushing this. I’m a scientist. I know what acetic acid is.I’ve already explained that I find the demonization of “chemical-sounding” words irritating.

Dutchess_III's avatar


So…what is with the “meat glue”?

momster's avatar

I do not trust the USDA to be rigorous about keeping unsafe additives out of food. There are plenty of additives that are allowed in this country that are not allowed in others because of evidence they are unsafe. There are many ties between the USDA and the biggest, wealthiest food corporations. Their main interest is money, not health and safety UNLESS health and safety issues start to impact their bottom line.

Just because a label says a food is 100% anything doesn’t mean it is. Thanks to the USDA, food companies can add certain things to foods and still not have to list them on the label—such as I mentioned above with skim milk and orange juice.

I am not worried about the health effects of the occasional glass of orange juice or the once a year candy binge of Halloween. I’m trying to be more aware of the long term effects that are more and more being associated with the infamous Western diet.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@livelaughlove21 McD’s chicken nuggets are one of my favourite treats and I don’t care about all the horror stories of what goes in them!!!

Dutchess_III's avatar

They’re best with honey, IMO @Leanne1986. :)

Coloma's avatar

The BEST McDonalds in the WORLD, literally is the asian McDonalds, they serve their fries with a green Wasabi mayo instead of ketchup. OMG…to die for!

Dutchess_III's avatar

Hmmm. Well, lets go to Asia, shall we? :)

OpryLeigh's avatar

@Dutchess_III Do you mean honey mustard? That’s my favourite dip. I don’t really like honey on it’s own so I’d probably just take your word for it if that’s what you mean!!!

Dutchess_III's avatar

No, not the honey mustard. * Wrinkles nose * Just the honey. Yummy!

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