Grant Imahara, host of the eye-opening show Mythbusters, was at it again. This time, he didn’t set out to get involved with crash test dummies or explosives. Instead, he recently focused on a specific food — which it can hardly be called — at McDonald’s: french fries.
Imahara went directly to the fast food chain’s processing plant in the potato-loving state, where he thankfully learned that the fries’ first ingredient are indeed spuds.
However, the ingredients that followed are disturbing to say the least.
Included on the list of 19 items are dimethylpolysiloxane, a form of silicone found in Silly Putty, tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ), a petrol-based chemical, and hydrogenated soybean oil, which is a manufactured form of trans fat.(1)
These ingredients are downright unhealthy, a Franken-food that can wreak havoc on the body. Let’s take a closer look.
Brain damage and cancer with your fries?
According to Vani Hari, more commonly known as the “Food Babe” who helped bring Subway’s bread ingredients into the spotlight in 2014 for their use of a substance that’s also used in yoga mats, dimethylpolysiloxane should be avoided.
The McDonald’s french fry ingredient is the same as what’s found in aquarium tank sealants, mold release agents and hair conditioners.
In some cases, she explains that it even contains formaldehyde, a highly toxic chemical associated with brain damage, cancer, allergies and auto-immune disorders.(2)
Interestingly, Hari notes that McDonald’s fries are worse than those made in Europe. She writes that, compared to the U.S., french fries in the UK are primarily made of a few basic ingredients such as potatoes, vegetable oil, and some sugar and salt.(2)
“How can McDonald’s make french fries with such an uncomplicated list of ingredients all over Europe, but not over here?” she asked.
“Why do McDonald’s french fries in the U.S. have to have an ‘anti-foaming’ agent? Do the [B]rits like extra foam? No, they don’t, Europe actually regulates this ingredient because they know this man-made chemical was never intended to be consumed by humans. This whole time [McDonald’s] has known about this and chooses to continue to serve [its U.S.] citizens silly putty.”(2)
Safe to eat, even though it’s the same ingredient found in lacquers
Then there is the issue of tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ).
Those involved in making the chemical casually applaud its so-called virtues.
For example, the site TBHQTertiaryButylhydroquinone.com says that it’s a “type of phenol” that is “used to stabilize foods, fats and vegetable oils against oxidative deterioration,” which extends their storage life.
Unfortunately, the site also says that it’s found in everything from perfumes to biodiesel. Worse, it claims that it’s safe to ingest.(3)
It is also used as a corrosion inhibitor in biodiesel. In perfumery, it is used as a fixative to lower the evaporation rate and improve stability. It is also added to varnishes, lacquers, resins, and oil field additives.
Both the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have evaluated TBHQ and determined that it is safe to consume at the concentration allowed in foods.(3)
Sinking your teeth into a “silent killer”
Finally, let’s take a look at hydrogenated soybean oil.
Like TBHQ, it’s used in the food industry to prolong shelf life. It’s also referred to as the “Silent Killer,” and for good reason.
A report put out by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston noted that at least 100,000 cardiac deaths that take place annually in the United States could have been prevented “if people replaced trans fat with healthier non hydrogenated polyunsaturated or monounsaturated oils.”(4)
These are all chemicals that are bad for people’s health. They’re not natural, are found in Silly Putty and added to resins, and play a role in destroying heart health.
Be sure to steer clear of McDonald’s french fries, and foods from other fast food restaurants for that matter. In doing so, you’ll be vastly improving overall health.