McDonald’s USA has turned the page with its ongoing transparency campaign dubbed “Our Food, Your Questions.” The campaign’s latest video is making the rounds as it attempt to eradicate myths about how their “World Famous Fries” are made.
The fast food giant turned to the Grant Imahara, the Discovery Channel’s former Mythbusters host, to “reverse engineer” the entire process of producing and cooking the french fries.
As it turns out, real potatoes are used to produce the menu option and each potato is wholly cut. After the potatoes are peeled, they are lined up and shot through a water knife at speeds of 97 to 133 km/h, which is how each fry receives its uniform appearance and texture.
It contradicts some myths that the company mashes up potatoes into a goo and injects a substance into moulds to create the “perfect french fry.”
“It’s not a frankenfry composed of chemicals,” says Imahara. “McDonald’s french fries are made of potatoes.”
However, the entire production process requires a total of 19 ingredients instead of the usual one or two ingredients commonly required for homemade recipes. Imahara explains the process and ingredients in these videos:
Ingredients two to nine are used in the “partial frying” during the supplier’s production process while ingredients 13 to 19 are in the cooking oil at the restaurants.
Canola oil, soybean oil and hydrogenated soybean oil are listed twice by McDonald’s as they are used at different stages of the production and cooking process: the fries are “partially fried” at the supplier and they are cooked with the same oils for the second time at the restaurant locations. Two non-oil ingredients, citric acid and dimethylpolysiloxane, are also used twice in each of the two stages.
Citric acid is an anti-oxidant used to preserve the “freshness” of the oils used in the entire process.
Dimethylpolysiloxane reduces foaming and oil splattering, although Imahara fails to mention it is also used for adhesives, aquarium sealants, hair conditioners, polishes, silicone lubricants and even Silly Putty. This ingredient is also used as anti-foaming agents for french fries made by Carl’s Jr. and Wendy’s.
Natural beef flavour, hydrolyzed wheat and hydrolyzed milk in the oil for the “partially fried” process provides the flavour and french fry taste.
Dextrose is a corn-derived sugar added to maintain the uniform golden fry colour during the cooking process.
Sodium acid pyrophosphate is used to keep the potatoes from turning into a grey colour after the freezing and before they are cooked at the restaurant. Potatoes naturally oxidize in the air, just like cut apples and peeled bananas.
Tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) is a synthetic antioxidant to extend the shelf life of oil and fatty foods. In other processed foods, including McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets, TBHQ is sprayed on to prevent discoloration and any changes to the flavour and odour. However, it is also used for cosmetics, perfumes and varnishes.
McDonald’s Canada’s ingredients for its french fries are mostly the same as its American counterpart, although there are a few variations: safflower oil is used, but natural beef flavour, hydrolyzed wheat and hydrolyzed milk are not used.
The American transparency campaign follows a similar 2012 campaign by McDonald’s Canada that answered questions customers had about why their food looks different in advertisements than in restaurants.
Here is the Canadian campaign’s rundown of how their french fries are made:
Feature Image: McDonald’s fries via Shutterstock