McDonald’s Dropping Corn Syrup, Other Additives from Its Menu, But Is It Healthier?!

Popular fast food restaurant chain McDonald’s will be dropping high fructose corn syrup and other unhealthy ingredients from its menu starting next month.

According to the Associated Press, the franchise – which is looking to shed the perception that McDonald’s only serves “processed junk food” – announced plans to drop the syrup and other elements that can be found in menu items such its Chicken McNuggets (chicken nuggets) and buns that contain artificial preservatives.

McDonald's Cheeseburger and Fries
McDonald's announced that it will be dropping high fructose corn syrup from its menu, a move that is expected to have a huge impact on the hamburger buns that it serves with its popular fast food meals. [Image by Justin Sullivan / Getty Images]

McDonald’s changes toward dropping high fructose corn syrup and artificial preservatives are expected to hit approximately 14,000 of its U.S. locations – essentially all of them – per CNN Money.

In particular, these ingredients have been targeted by various groups – including consumer advocacy and regulatory organizations – that have begun to question whether their presence in McDonald’s menu might actually cause a number of dangerous health risks, according to nonprofit E.W.G.. Among the issues of concern are claims that the additives have been connected with health risks, including cancer, hormone imbalances, and infertility.

“We need to think about our ingredient labels as being much smaller,” said former head of McDonald’s U.S. operations Mike Andres of the restaurant’s recent announcement. The decision that will see the dropping of high fructose corn syrup from its menu was announced at McDonald’s “Food Journey” event at its global headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois.

Other possible healthy points of interest for McDonald’s that it announced at the time included images of its new “breakfast bowls,” freshly cracked eggs and other items that the franchise is testing.

All are being promoted, it seems, to demonstrate that McDonald’s actually serves real food.

These changes also follow what AP’s Candice Choi called “three straight years of declining guest counts at its established U.S. locations.” Choi continued, “Major restaurant chains are scrambling to step up the image of their food as they face more competi1tion from smaller rivals promising more wholesome alternatives.”

A change toward promoting more of a healthy lifestyle seems to be the most direct and immediate response.

The news about McDonald’s dropping the corn syrup also follows a tumultuous year and a half of transition for the fast food restaurant, the AP noted, that has seen it switch from butter to margarine for its Egg McMuffin and add kale and spinach to its salad.

McDonalds Egg McMuffin
FAIRFIELD, CA - JULY 23: A McDonald's Egg McMuffin is displayed at a McDonald's restaurant on July 23, 2015 in Fairfield, California. McDonald's has been testing all-day breakfast menus at select locations in the U.S. and could offer it at all locations as early as October. (Photo illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

McDonald’s, meanwhile, had been signalling its plans for dropping corn syrup and other unhealthy elements of its menu since late 2014, the AP noted, when it announced that it was evaluating its cooking procedures and ingredients as part of its push to correct a series of dismal financial quarters.

More recently, McDonald’s announced that the sales in its flagship U.S. market have improved recently, which a number of officials attribute to adding an “all-day” breakfast menu at most restaurants starting in October 2015.

For the most recent quarter, the AP noted, revenues were up 1.8 percent at “established locations,” which were boosted by higher pricing as customers elected to purchase more costly options.

Center for Science in the Public Interest executive director Michael Jacobson, meanwhile, told the AP that the changes – although a nice step – do not address some of the “big picture problem with restaurant food,” which he notes is actually an overabundance of calories.

Dropping high fructose sugar, he added, actually does very little to ensure that McDonald’s buns are healthier than they were before.

McDonald’s did not respond to the AP’s request for comment as to which other ingredients it was dropping.

[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]