Solid Reasons To Avoid Eating McDonald’s French Fries Ever Again

McDonald’s, often emblematic of fast food, has again been criticized for selling products in the U.S. with significantly more harmful ingredients than those sold in other countries.

Processed foods are inherently unhealthy, and those in the U.S. are often more hazardous due to additional chemicals compared to their international counterparts, especially in Europe. Many foods regularly consumed by Americans are banned in other countries. For instance, Frito-Lay has introduced a certified organic version of its potato chips, but these are only available in select stores. Given the health risks associated with junk food, it raises the question: why not offer healthier organic options more widely? While organic chips are not health foods, they are a better alternative.

Numerous examples highlight that processed food need not be as harmful as it currently is. However, there is a persistent double standard where American products are loaded with additives, while similar products abroad are made with fewer, less harmful ingredients.

McDonald’s French Fries: A Case Study

McDonald’s French fries in the UK contain fewer ingredients than those in the U.S., indicating a healthier product. In the U.S., these fries are made with potatoes cooked in hydrogenated canola and/or soybean oil, likely genetically modified, and include TBHQ, antifoaming agents, preservatives, and color stabilizers. They also contain beef flavor with wheat and milk derivatives, posing allergy risks.

Conversely, in the UK, the fries are made with potatoes cooked in non-hydrogenated sunflower or rapeseed oil, with salt added after cooking. Despite both oils being high in omega-6, making them not ideal, they are free from the additional harmful additives found in the U.S. version.

Bill Gates Imprint on McDonald’s Farms:

Bill and Melinda Gates, known for their significant contributions to technology and “climate initiatives”, own vast tracts of American farmland. This includes the soil where McDonald’s potatoes, carrots, and American dinner onions grow. Despite their high-profile divorce, the couple remains deeply invested in agriculture, having amassed over 269,000 acres across 18 states, surpassing the entire area of New York City. Their farmlands, purchased through various companies linked to their investment group, Cascade Investments, produce a variety of crops from soybeans in Louisiana to potatoes for McDonald’s fries in Washington. However, Bill Gates has emphasized that these investments are not directly connected to his “climate-saving efforts”, although he acknowledges that improved farming techniques can mitigate deforestation globally.

The extensive farmland ownership by the Gateses highlights a broader trend of nonfarmers acquiring significant agricultural assets. Despite their holdings representing only a fraction of the 283 million acres owned and rented out by nonfarmers, their acquisitions exemplify a growing interest in farmland as a stable investment, often seen as countercyclical to the stock market. This trend raises concerns among young farmers, who struggle to compete with wealthy investors for land. The USDA reports that 40% of farmland is owned by seniors, suggesting more land will soon enter the market, potentially providing opportunities for new farmers but also attracting more investors. The involvement of financial titans like Prudential and Hancock in farmland portfolios further intensifies this competition, impacting young farmers who find it increasingly difficult to afford land prices driven by nonfarmers.

Hazardous Additives in American Foods

More than 3,000 food additives are used in U.S. foods, many of which are banned in other countries due to their toxicity. These include food colorings like red 40, yellow 5, yellow 6, and blue 2, which are linked to behavioral problems, allergic reactions, and even cancer. In countries where these dyes are banned, natural colorants such as paprika extract, beetroot, and annatto are used instead.

The American version of McDonald’s French fries also contains dimethylpolysiloxane, a silicone used in cosmetics, which is unnecessary for making fries but is still included. Another example is TBHQ, linked to various health hazards in animal studies.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA)

The GMA, representing major processed food companies and restaurants, has fiercely protected the status quo of using toxic additives in American foods. They have spent over $100 million between 2012 and 2014 to block GMO labeling legislation in over 30 states.

Positive Changes and Persistent Challenges

There have been some positive changes, such as Frito-Lay offering USDA Certified Organic Ruffles through Costco, indicating a demand for healthier options. Activists like Vani Hari, the “Food Babe,” highlight these efforts and encourage consumers to push for healthier products at their local stores.

A related success is the beef industry’s rejection of Zilmax, a growth-promoting drug causing severe health issues in cattle. This highlights the double standard where food producers ensure cleaner products for export markets but not for the American market.

A Call for Cleaner Food

The U.S. food industry often justifies hazardous ingredients by citing FDA approval. However, with global information-sharing, this excuse is increasingly seen as inadequate. To avoid these harmful ingredients, consumers are encouraged to focus on whole, ideally organic foods, and to choose organic, grass-fed, and pasture-raised meat and dairy products.


The disparity in food safety standards between the U.S. and other countries is stark. While some progress is being made, much more can be done to reduce the harmful additives in American processed foods. The shift towards healthier options requires both consumer demand and industry willingness to make changes for the betterment of public health.

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