Our fast “food” display is now 2 years old. The word food is questionable, since the bread-like and meat-like substances have not molded or spoiled in any way. Bugs won’t even bother with it. Please think twice about giving this to your kids. You have a choice, but they don’t. We truly are what we eat. (From LiveWell Wellness Centers)
The photo above got my attention today on Facebook. The photo from LiveWell Wellness Center of Belleville, Illinois, is making the rounds on the social networking giant. The photo, just shy of two years old when it was posted on April 17 shows the lack of any decomposition of “food” from four restaurants. This is not the first time pictures like this have rounded social circles on Facebook but this one got my attention so I did some digging. Author and obesity activist Julia Havey stored a McDonald’s cheeseburger and fries for 4 years, and Joann Bruso, a 62-year-old grandmother, held on to a McDonald’s Happy Meal for a whole year. All of these events were either videotaped or photographed. To illustrate what real food looks like when it spoils, Julia Havey’s video visually compares pristine looking four-year old McDonald’s french fries with a regular decomposed potato.
Then there’s Leo Foley’s Bionic Burger video. Foley has allegedly been saving McDonald’s hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and Big Macs from McDonald’s for over 19 years, and “they look EXACTLY the same!” says Foley. “These hamburgers are not food substances (the way we normally think of food), says Foley, “they are chemical concoctions that contain the look, taste, and smell of food but don’t be fooled. There is nothing ‘food-like’ about these substances at all.” For nonbelievers, Foley has this so say: “I don’t want you to believe me. I would rather have you buy a couple hamburgers from your local McDonald’s and follow our instructions on how to create a Bionic Burger for yourself.”
McDonald’s issued a statement claiming: “No preservatives are added to the beef patties in McDonald’s hamburgers.” But according to Foley, what you will find is 1,1,1 – trichloroethane, 1,2,4 – trimethylbenzene, BCH, alpha Chloroform, chlorotoluene, chlorpyritos, DDE, p, p, DDT, p, p, dieldrin, diphenyl 2-wthylhexyl phosphate, and ethyl benzene, among a host of other chemicals found in fast food. Some suggest that since fat makes up about 50 percent of the fries’ caloric content and 35-to-54 percent of the burger patties’, “high levels of fat leave less room for moisture, which prevents mold from sprouting.”
The McDonalds bun is enriched bleached flour (bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, reduced iron), water, high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, yeast, contains less than 2 % of each of the following: salt, calcium sulfate, calcium carbonate, calcium silicate, wheat gluten, soy flour, baking soda, emulsifier (mono- and diglycerides, diacetyl tartaric acid esters of fatty acids, ethanol, sorbitol, polysorbate 20, potassium propionate), sodium stearoyl lactylate, dough conditioner (corn starch, ammonium chloride, ammonium sulfate, calcium peroxide, ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide, enzymes), calcium propionate (preservative).
For those of you who consider these eternal McDonald’s hamburger claims over the top, consider this: McDonald’s chicken McNuggets contain tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ), a petroleum-based product also added to varnishes, lacquers, resins, and oil field additives, and dimethylpolysiloxane, an anti-foaming agent used in Silly Putty. And prior to 2003, there were even more toxic chemicals in McDonald’s chicken McNuggets that so shocked a federal judge, the chemicals were ordered to be removed. In 2003, a federal judge dubbed the food “a McFrankenstein creation of various elements not utilized by the home cook.” The ingredients allowed to remain are tBHQ and dimethylpolysiloxane.
Preservatives alone may not be responsible for the fungus-resisting powers of a Happy Meal. Marion Nestle, chairwoman of New York University’s food studies program, said that McDonald’s would have to use “really a lot of” sodium propionate to prevent bacterial or mold growth. McDonald’s French fries, for example, which have repeatedly proven their hardiness to spoilage, contain citric acid as a preservative. But a bigger factor might be the fat content of the fries. About 50 percent of the total 250 calories contained in a small order of fries come from fat. “Anything that is high in fat will be low in moisture,” says Barry Swanson, a professor at the Washington State University department of food science. And low moisture means less room for mold to grow. They’re crisper and thinner than regular fries, which means that they’re exposed to greater heat per surface area, killing pathogens and reducing water content. McDonald’s fries are also coated in a nice, thick layer of salt, something we’ve been using as a natural preservative for the last 2,500 years.
Some ingredients that health conscious consumers consider unacceptable are MSG (or free glutamate, or free glutamic acid, including anything hydrolyzed or autolyzed), trans fats (hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils ), artificial colors, artificial flavors, and most preservatives. Many so-called healthy fast food menu items, upon closer inspection, do not live up to the health hype. Most of the meat from any of the major chains has anything but a simple ingredients list. They add emulsifiers, preservatives, MSG, artificial colors, trans fats, and hidden ingredients under generic labels such as spices, or natural and artificial flavors. Some of these food additives are not foods at all, but are chemicals that are generally recognized as safe. Most of these additives cannot be found at your local grocery store, probably because they aren’t food. But some can be found at your local hardware store, though in inedible products like low tox antifreeze, silicone caulk, soap, sunscreen, and play sand.
The egg’s reputation is recovering, but scrambled eggs as a part of McDonald’s breakfast include much more than egg. Their pasteurized whole eggs have sodium acid pyrophosphate, citric acid, and monosodium phosphate (all added to preserve color), and nisin, a preservative. To top it off, the eggs are prepared with liquid margarine: liquid soybean oil, water, partially hydrogenated cottonseed and soybean oils (trans fats), salt, hydrogenated cottonseed oil (trans fat), soy lecithin, mono- and diglycerides, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate (preservatives), artificial flavor, citric acid, vitamin A palmitate, and beta carotene (color). Though not all bad, these added chemicals may be the reason why homemade scrambled eggs taste so much better than McDonald’s.
For coffee drinkers, it would seem fairly safe to just grab a quick cup of coffee at McDonald’s on the way to work. But many health conscious people would object to it also including this list of ingredients: sodium phosphate, sodium polyphosphate, Di-Acetyl Tartrate Ester of Monoglyceride, sodium stearoyl lactylate, tetra sodium pyrophosphate, sodium hexametaphosphate, sodium citrate, and carrageenan. Do health nuts still drink coffee? Salads can usually be counted on to be a “what you see is what you get” item. But McDonald’s adds some interesting ingredients. The salads with grilled chicken also have liquid margarine.
Several salads have either cilantro lime glaze, or orange glaze added. Along with many of McDonald’s sauces, both the cilantro lime glaze and the orange glaze contain propylene glycol alginate. While propylene glycol is considered “GRAS” for human consumption, it is not legal for use in cat food because the safety hasn’t been proven yet . Propylene glycol is also used “As the killing and preserving agent in pitfall traps, usually used to capture ground beetles” .
The chili lime tortilla strips that are included in the southwest salads have several ingredients used to hide MSG. They also contain two ingredients that advertise the presence of MSG: disodium inosinate, and disodium guanylate. The chicken has sodium phosphates (of an unspecified variety). It could be trisodium phosphate (a cleanser), monosodium phosphate (a laxative), or disodium hydrogen phosphate . Why would McDonald’s add sodium phosphates (a foaming agent), and dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agentin their crispy chicken breast fillets? It isn’t dishwasher detergent.
It’s interesting to note that the BK Veggie Burger has six ingredients commonly used to hide free glutamate (MSG): calcium caseinate, hydrolyzed corn, yeast extract, soy protein isolate, spices, and natural flavors. At the end of the ingredients list, it states This is NOT a vegan product. The patty is cooked in the microwave. Was that a warning statement? Burger King has three salads to choose from. The TENDERCRISP Garden Salad, the TENDERGRILL Garden Salad, and the Side Garden Salad.
A salad may be a little boring without a dressing like Ken’s Fat Free Ranch Dressing which includes titanium dioxide (an artificial color, or sunscreen, depending on use), preservatives, and the ingredient seemingly mandatory in all ranch dressings: monosodium glutamate. Once again, as is typical with the fast food industry, they took a simple thing like chicken, and added a long list of ingredients.
TENDERGRILL® CHICKEN BREAST FILET
Chicken Breast with Rib Meat, Water, Seasoning (Maltodextrin, Salt, Sugar, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Garlic Powder, Spices, Natural Flavors, Onion Powder, Modified Corn Starch, Chicken Fat, Chicken Powder, Chicken Broth, Disodium Guanylate and Disodium Inosinate, Citric Acid, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Dehydrated Garlic, and Artificial Flavors.), Modified Corn Starch, Soybean Oil, Salt, Sodium Phosphates. Glazed with: Water, Seasoning [Maltodextrin, Salt, Sugar, Methylcellulose, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Partially Hydrogenated Sunflower Oil, Modified Potato Starch, Fructose, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Dehydrated Garlic, Spices, Modified Corn Starch, Xanthan Gum, Natural Flavors, Disodium Guanylate and Disodium Inosinate, Chicken Fat, Carmel Color, Grill Flavor (from Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and Cottonseed Oil), Chicken Powder, Chicken Broth, Turmeric, Smoke Flavor, Annatto Extract, and Artificial Flavors], Soybean Oil. 
Taco Bell’s website didn’t have much emphasis on health. Under the nutrition guide, at the bottom was a link to Keep it Balanced, a token nod to health. It had no serious information on how to really eat healthy. They recommend foods like pizza and tacos (no surprise) because they may include ingredients from several food groups at once. Including several food groups does not necessarily mean it’s a healthy food.
The seasoned beef, carne asada steak, spicy shredded chicken, and even the rice all include autolyzed yeast extract (hidden MSG). Disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate are flavor enhancers used in synergy with MSG [7,8]. Therefore, menu items with disodium inosinate and/or disodium guanylate also contain MSG. This includes the avocado ranch dressing, southwest chicken, citrus salsa, creamy jalapeno sauce, creamy lime sauce, lime seasoned red strips, pepper jack sauce, and seasoned rice. According to Wikipedia, dimethylpolysiloxane is optically clear, and is generally considered to be inert, non-toxic, and non-flammable. It is used in silicone caulk, adhesives, and as an anti-foaming agent . Appetizingly enough, it’s also included in Taco Bell’s rice.
At Wendy’s, there are several tempting salads. The mandarin chicken salad seems healthy at first glance. It has diced chicken, mandarin oranges, almonds, crispy noodles, your choice of dressings, and five different varieties of lettuce. Then reality takes a bite when you check the ingredients list. The almonds are roasted and salted. The crispy noodles are not whole grain. The mandarin orange segments are not freshly peeled oranges; most likely canned. The diced chicken has added autolyzed yeast extract (MSG), disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, sodium phosphates (soap?), salt, more salt, sugar, modified cornstarch (sic), and the universal umbrella ingredient list: spices, natural flavors, and artificial flavors.
In the ingredients lists for the salad dressings, one surprise was titanium dioxide in the Low Fat Honey Mustard Dressing and the Reduced Fat Creamy Ranch Dressing. It’s a very versatile chemical. It can be used to manufacture paint, sunscreen, semiconductors, and food coloring . Wendy’s Southwest Taco Salad is a salad with Wendy’s chili. Once again, the chili has hidden MSG: autolyzed yeast extract, spices, artificial flavors, natural flavorings, disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate (MSG give-aways). It’s puzzling to try to understand why their chili would need to include an anti-caking agent such as silicon dioxide (also known as sand, or glass powder).
If you have wondered why you feel sick after eating fast food…you can probably find the answer here. Worrying about pink slime seems like the tip of the ice-berg.