What’s In McDonald’s Fries?

America loves McDonald’s french fries. Voted the best tasting french fry in various polls through out the years, it is safe to say that at least once, a person has scrounged for that errant bag fry in hopes for one last bite.

McDonald’s fries have a particular taste, a certain crisp when made according to standard. The recipe has changed over the years. As mentioned on Delish, many people have never fully recovered emotionally from the decision to switch from using beef tallow to the much healthier canola oil they presently use. Even Julia Child had her opinion regarding the switch from beef tallow to canola oil.

It is no mystery that the McDonald’s fries have a certain addictive quality to them. McDonald’s does offer an ingredients list as part of it’s nutrition guide. Winds up, there are real spuds in the fries along with 18 other ingredients.

CNBC teamed up with former Mythbuster star, Grant Imahara to focus on food safety and quality in the United States. The McDonald’s fries include more than just a mere potato, oil and salt. In addition to different oils, the list includes several chemicals that perform various functions. Functions such as adding flavor, an anti-foaming agent that keeps oil from splattering, one that keeps “the potatoes from going gray” and of course, preservatives.

In the report, Imahara takes a tour at Simplot, which supplies potatoes to McDonald’s USA, with Koko Neher, a production planner there.

Whole potatoes travel on a conveyor belt before being shot through a high-pressure water tube through a grate at 60 to 70 miles per hour. While this seems normal as the skins need to be removed, the next step is a bit troubling. As quoted on CNBC, Koko Neher explains the process known as the ingredient dip.

“This is the ingredient dip, where we control the color, and we’re adding dextrose – all natural sugar – to make sure that we get a consistent color no matter what time of the year it is,” said Neher, adding that it also puts in sodium acid pyrophosphate to control “graying after freezing.”

The next step includes partially frying the potatoes before traveling through a massive freezer tunnel of about 50 yards in length. The fries are now frozen solid and ready for transport. Final preparation occurs at the restaurant.

“So at the end of the day, it’s not a Franken fry composed of chemicals,” Neher said. “McDonald’s French fries are made of potatoes.”

Perhaps, plus 18 other ingredients. As provided by Care 2:


Canola oil

Hydrogenated soybean oil

Safflower oil

“Natural flavor”(think MSG–unable to clearly identify what is meant by natural flavors or how many flavors are involved)

Dextrose (sugar)

Sodium acid pyrophosphate (maintains color, which unfortunately, has been listed as hazardous for ingestion on the SDS

Citric acid—used as a preservative.

Dimethylpolysiloxane—used as an anti-foaming agent, this industrial chemical is typically used in caulking and sealants and comes with a list of safety concerns.

Vegetable oil for frying, which is a blend of 7 ingredients, including: canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with tert-butylhydroquinone (TBHQ), citric acid, and dimethylpolysiloxane.

TBHQ is a petroleum-based, butane-like (lighter fluid) ingredient used as a preservative.

Feel free to compare to McDonald’s list by clicking here.

Click here to read the response of McDonald’s to the rumor that the McRib contained the same ingredient found in yoga mats.

And if you’re really loving it, click here for more McDonald’s food fun.