Why Do McDonald’s Fries Have Almost 15 Ingredients?

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The ingredients used in McDonald’s fries go beyond the simple combination of oil, potatoes, and salt. While most people are aware of these three basic ingredients, the reality is that there is much more that goes into creating these fries.

In different regions around the world, the list of ingredients can vary. However, the key components typically include potatoes, canola oil or soybean oil, “natural beef flavor,” citric acid as a preservative, dextrose, sodium acid pyrophosphate to maintain color, and salt. It’s important to note that the specific ingredients used may differ depending on the location.

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Ingredients in McDonald’s fries in the United States

In the United States, McDonald’s fries are prepared in a vegetable oil blend that consists of canola oil, soybean oil, corn oil, and hydrogenated soybean oil. This mixture helps to maintain the freshness and stability of the oil during the frying process. Additionally, TBHQ (tertiary butylhydroquinone) and citric acid are added to preserve the oil’s freshness, while dimethylpolysiloxane is included to reduce oil splatter.

The “natural beef flavor” used in McDonald’s fries contains hydrolyzed wheat and milk as the initial ingredients. Hydrolyzed wheat and hydrolyzed milk undergo a chemical process known as hydrolysis, which breaks down the bonds by adding water. This process results in an amino acid reaction that creates the savory and “beefy” taste.

The Scary Process Behind Making McDonald’s Fries

The preparation of McDonald’s fries involves a specific process to achieve their iconic taste and texture.

First, the potatoes are coated with a combination of oils, including hydrogenated soybean oil, which provides shelf stability. The mixture also includes the “natural beef flavor” and citric acid.

To enhance the flavor, salt, sodium acid pyrophosphate, and sugar are sprinkled on the potatoes.

Sodium acid pyrophosphate helps prevent browning of the potatoes.

Additionally, TBHQ is used as a frying agent to ensure optimal cooking results, while dimethylpolysiloxane serves as an antifoaming agent, reducing the splatter of oil during the frying process.

The Controversy Surrounding McDonald’s Fries


Over the years, McDonald’s fries have faced some controversy due to the inclusion of certain chemicals and additives. Critics argue that the extensive list of ingredients raises concerns about the nutritional value and potential health risks associated with consuming these fries regularly.

Here are a few ingredients that have sparked discussions:

1. Beef Flavoring:

McDonald’s fries have been controversial due to the use of “natural beef flavoring,” which led to issues with vegetarians and vegans, who believed the fries were free of animal products. McDonald’s settled a lawsuit in 2002 regarding this and have since clearly stated in their ingredients list that the natural flavors are derived from beef.

2. Trans Fats:

For a time, McDonald’s was criticized for using partially hydrogenated oils, which contain trans fats, known to be detrimental to heart health. However, McDonald’s, like many other food chains, has changed its frying oil to reduce or eliminate trans fats in response to health concerns and changes in food labeling laws.

Trans fats, particularly artificial trans fats, are known to be harmful due to their ability to raise bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and lower good cholesterol (HDL) levels, thereby contributing to the risk of heart disease.

3. Preservatives:

The fries contain several preservatives, which can be controversial to some consumers. One of these is tert-Butylhydroquinone (TBHQ), a synthetic antioxidant that prevents oils from becoming rancid. It’s considered safe in low amounts but has sparked controversy due to potential health concerns at higher levels.

Ingesting high doses of TBHQ can cause nausea, delirium, collapse, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and vomiting. Studies have also shown that TBHQ could be carcinogenic at high doses.

4. Dimethylpolysiloxane:

Dimethylpolysiloxane is primarily used as an anti-foaming agent in food, but it is also used in cosmetic and industrial applications. While it is considered generally safe for consumption at low levels, there are concerns about the potential for this substance to contain or break down into other compounds that may be harmful, such as formaldehyde.

5. Palm Oil:

In some regions, McDonald’s uses palm oil or has used palm oil as a component of the frying oil. The production of palm oil has been linked to deforestation, habitat degradation, and other environmental issues.

6. High Salt Content:

The high level of sodium in McDonald’s fries has also been a point of controversy due to the associated health risks such as high blood pressure and heart disease when consumed in excess.

7. Acrylamide:

Frying potatoes at high temperatures can result in the formation of acrylamide, a chemical that has been linked to cancer in animal studies. The presence of acrylamide in fried and baked goods is a broader issue in the food industry, not exclusive to McDonald’s.

8. Sugar:

The use of dextrose, a form of sugar, is also controversial, as it is used to achieve a uniform golden color. Added sugars, even in small amounts, can be of concern to some consumers monitoring their sugar intake.

9. Pesticide Residues:

Some consumers have raised concerns about pesticide residues on conventionally grown potatoes used to make fries, although such residues are typically within regulatory limits.

Remember, these ingredients and controversies could be subject to change and may not apply in every country. For the most accurate and up-to-date information, it’s always best to refer to McDonald’s official nutritional information and ingredients lists or contact McDonald’s directly.

Healthy French Fries Recipe

Love french fries but don’t trust the ‘natural’ ingredients at restaurants and fast-food chains? Here’s a wholesome and mouthwatering alternative: Homemade Healthy Baked French Fries! This recipe shuns the unhealthy aspects of typical fries, steering clear of oils like vegetable, soybean, and canola oil, and instead opts for a more heart-friendly option—avocado oil.

Deliciously crispy and golden, these fries are seasoned to perfection with sea salt, pepper, and a medley of herbs, giving you the freedom to enjoy a guilt-free, nutrient-rich version of your favorite snack. Dive into this easy, flavorful recipe that ensures you no longer have to compromise taste for health!

Healthy Baked French Fries with Avocado Oil


  • 4 large russet potatoes
  • 2 tbsp avocado oil
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Optional: Fresh or dried herbs (like rosemary or thyme), garlic powder, paprika


  1. Preheat Oven:
    • Preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C).
    • If available, place a wire rack over a baking sheet to allow air circulation around the fries for crispiness. If not, line the baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Prepare Potatoes:
    • Wash and peel the potatoes (or leave the skin on if preferred).
    • Cut the potatoes into 1/4-inch sticks or wedges.
  3. Season Potatoes:
    • Pat the potatoes dry with a clean kitchen towel to remove excess moisture.
    • In a large mixing bowl, toss the potato sticks with avocado oil until evenly coated.
    • Season with salt, pepper, and any optional herbs or spices you like.
  4. Arrange Potatoes:
    • If using a wire rack, arrange the potatoes in a single layer on it, ensuring there is space between each fry for even cooking.
    • If not using a rack, place them directly on the lined baking sheet in a single layer, avoiding overcrowding.
  5. Baking:
    • Bake in the preheated oven for about 30-40 minutes, flipping halfway through, until the fries are golden brown and crispy.
    • Keep an eye on them as oven temperatures can vary, and adjust cooking time as needed.
  6. Serving:
    • Once baked to perfection, taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
    • Serve immediately with your favorite dipping sauce, and enjoy the delicious crispiness!


  • Avocado Oil: Avocado oil is chosen for its high smoke point and health benefits, making it a suitable choice for baking at high temperatures.
  • Herbs/Spices: Customize your seasoning by adding different herbs and spices according to your preference, and explore new flavors each time you make these healthy baked fries!

Conscious Eating and Nothing Less


Choosing to forgo McDonald’s fries, or any food replete with artificial and incomprehensible ingredients, is indeed a step towards a healthier, more enlightened lifestyle. Really, with additives like TBHQ and dimethylpolysiloxane still being scrutinized by the scientific community, who needs the uncertainty?

Selecting foods that are enriched with genuine, wholesome ingredients is not merely a boon to one’s well-being, but it also fosters more mindful consumption. By embracing recipes like our Healthy Baked French Fries with Avocado Oil, you gain culinary transparency, truly understanding what nourishes your body. So let’s make a conscious commitment to purity and authenticity in our diets, prioritizing natural, unadulterated foods over the allure of convenient, processed alternatives. After all, nourishing our bodies with quality ingredients is a form of self-respect and care that we all deserve.

Some of the links I post on this site are affiliate links. If you go through them to make a purchase, I will earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you). However, note that I’m recommending these products because of their quality and that I have good experience using them, not because of the commission to be made.

About Sara Ding

Sara Ding is the founder of Juicing-for-Health.com. She is a certified Wellness Health Coach, Nutritional Consultant and a Detox Specialist. She helps busy men and women identify their health issues at the root cause, in order to eliminate the problems for optimum physical/mental health and wellbeing.


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