What’s really in a McDonald’s hamburger?

What’s really in a McDonald’s hamburger?

What’s in a McDonald’s hamburger? A 100% beef patty that’s seasoned with a pinch of salt and pepper, topped with melty cheese, tangy pickles, minced onions, and (of course) ketchup and mustard. Duh.

Sounds pretty good, right? This is how the McDonad’s hamburger is advertised. Sounds simple enough. And from a real food perspective, it sounds… well, real. 

But what’s REALLY is in a McDonald’s hamburger?

Ah, I’m glad you asked.

The McDonald’s hamburger deconstructed

What's really in a McDonald's hamburger? You may not want to know, but really need to.Let’s take a quick look at what’s in a McDonald’s hamburger as outlined in their nutritional information. It shows a fairly harmless ingredient list:

  • 100% beef patty
  • regular bun
  • pastuerized process American cheese
  • ketchup
  • mustard
  • pickle slices
  • onions

Despite what many Americans think, I don’t see hamburgers as the typical  “junk food” villain. Under the right circumstances I am totally game for a real hamburger. And by “real” I mean that the beef is grass-fed, the cheese isn’t processed, the bun is sourdough or sprouted, and the condiments are not full of nasty stuff.

Not too surprising, but the McDonald’s hamburger isn’t quite so real. In fact, you have to scroll down their 30 page nutritional information guide to get the whole scary truth.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

What’s REALLY in a McDonald’s Hamburger: The Ingredient Breakdown

100% Beef Patty:

Ingredients: 100% pure USDA inspected beef; no fillers, no extenders. Prepared with grill seasoning (salt, black pepper).

Thankfully, McDonald’s and several other chains recently stopped using the “pink slime” in their beef. But the vast majority of fast food beef comes from CAFO (concentrated agricultural feeding operation) cows. Not only is this horrible for the animals and the environment, but eating meat from sick animals will only make you sick.  Eat a McDonald’s hamburger and you might be getting a mouth full of antibiotics, hormones, and dangerous bacteria.

Regular Bun:

Ingredients: Enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water, high fructose corn syrup and/or sugar, yeast, soybean oil and/or canola oil, contains 2% or less of the following: salt, wheat gluten, calcium sulfate, calcium carbonate, ammonium sulfate, ammonium chloride, dough conditioners (may contain one or more of the following: sodium stearoyl lactylate, datem, ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide, mono- and diglycerides, ethoxylated monoglycerides, monocalcium phosphate, enzymes, guar gum, calcium peroxide), sorbic acid, calcium propionate and/or sodium propionate (preservatives), soy lecithin.

Oh boy. Where do I start? How about we just look at the length of this ingredient list. All of this for a bun? Did you know you can make your own bread using just flour, salt, and water? Seriously. The extra 20 – 30 ingredients here is stuff your body doesn’t need.

Lets look at just a few of the above ingredients:

  • Ammonium chloride… sounds tasty right? Did you know it is also an ingredient in fireworks, safety matches and contact explosives? Eat up.
  • Ammonium sulfate is used most commonly as an artificial fertilizer for alkaline soils. It’s also in flame retardant materials. Ammonium sulfate activates yeast, so it helps to get industrially produced bread to rise.
  • The soybean and/or canola oil used here are most likely GMO. They are also foods I generally avoid for a number of reasons.
  • The high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), despite the desperate marketing strategies to persuade otherwise, is not natural. And because it’s in so much of our processed foods, not only is it hard to avoid, but it can be doing major damage to your health.
  • “Enriched” flour sounds harmless enough. But “enriched” just means that all the nutrition was taken out in the first place. Refined flours are also hard for your body to digest, even before the mess of chemicals are added to it.

I can’t even get through this whole list. But I think you get the point. Nothing really healthy or real here.


Ingredients: Tomato concentrate from red ripe tomatoes, distilled vinegar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, water, salt, natural flavors (vegetable source)

As if HFCS isn’t enough… let’s add some regular corn syrup to the mix! Not to mention that most corn is GMO. Did you know that recently the first long term study on the effects of GMO was released? You can find it here. The part that should freak you out: Massive tumors in rats who are fed GMO corn for two years. What do I mean by massive? Check this out:

Rat What's really in a McDonald's hamburger?Tumor Monsanto GMO Cancer Study image source

That’s after two years. GMOs have been in our market for 20.

Let’s talk about the “natural flavors.” What does that really mean? For me it means “don’t eat.” The term “natural flavors” can be used for a number of not-so-natural and definitely not-so-healthy ingredients including things like MSG, Aspartame and bugs (yes, bugs).


Ingredients: Distilled vinegar, water, mustard seed, salt, turmeric, paprika, spice extractive.

Okay, these look familiar. Except maybe “spice extractive.” What does that mean? Read this and try to figure it out… a little “iffy” for sure.

Pasteurized Process American Cheese:

Ingredients: Milk, water, milkfat, cheese culture, sodium citrate, salt, citric acid, sorbic acid (preservative), sodium phosphate, color added, lactic acid, acetic acid, enzymes, soy lecithin (added for slice separation)

Let’s just start with the name. I mean, come on. Cheese is milk’s chance for immortality and “pasteurized process American cheese” just sounds nasty.

Why are we messing with something so good? Pasteurization kills living enzymes. Although in this case it’s probably good since it can also kill the bad stuff that comes from milk from sick cows in horrific factories.

With all the added colors, preservatives, and other “goodies” I think I’ll skip the cheeseburger.

Pickle Slices:

Ingredients: Cucumbers, water, distilled vinegar, salt, calcium chloride, alum, potassium sorbate (preservative), natural flavors (plant source), polysorbate 80, extractives of turmeric (color)

Another handful of chemicals. Let’s just highlight the polysorbate 80 for a moment. In general this chemical is considered safe and well tolerated. Although a small number of people may be sensitive to it, and it may be harmful to people with Crohn’s disease. (But don’t worry, that only affects between 400,000 and 600,000 people in North America. Ouch.)


Ingredients: Chopped onions.

Finally. An ingredient list I can get behind. Of course, I prefer my veggies organic (locally grown is even better) to avoid pesticides. But so far the onions are your safest bet.

So… what’s the verdict about what’s really in a McDonald’s hamburger?

Well for an ingredient list with 50+ questionable items… I think I’ll pass on the McDonad’s hamburger. Forever. And before you think I have something against McDonald’s, realize that this list will look very similar for any fast food hamburger.

Remember, food is what helps your body thrive. Feed your body sick food and guess how you’ll end up? Sick.

Ultimately, however, it’s not McDonald’s we should be mad at. Nobody is forcing us to eat this garbage. What we need is to help educate people and let them know what they are putting in their bodies. I think Joel Salatin says it well:

What's in a McDonald's hamburger?

Help empower people with information to make better choices. Share what you know. Being willing to change. Your body will thank you.

Want to eat healthier, but confused by all the information out there? You’re not alone!

It took me years to figure out this whole “healthy” eating thing, and that’s because the world is full of confusing information. Every “expert” is telling us something different, and it seems our lists of “shoulds” and “should not” eats are changing faster than we can keep up with.

If you’re like me and wish there was a simple, stress-free approach to healthy living then you’re in the right place. My guide Processed Free will help you easily navigate real food no matter where you are on your path to healthier living.

And good news! The ebook is only 6 bucks so there’s nothing holding you back from creating life-long habits for healthier, happier living. Click here to check it out.



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About the author

Hi! I'm and I’m passionate about healthy living: feeling nourished, having energy, getting good sleep, and feeling strong. I believe healthy living does not have to be complicated or stressful. I’m a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist (RSMT) and a Certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst (CLMA). I’m also an avid researcher and love to read about nutrition, the body, and toxic-free living. Learn more.

View all articles by Robin Konie


    1. robin

      Me, too! I’ve never really been a fan of McDonald’s but during my college years I totally hit up Wendy’s way more than I should. And I’m pretty sure I was getting just as much garbage. *shudder*

        1. Post author

          I know, right? Wow… it’s crazy to think how many times we walked over there. And awesome to think how long it’s been since I’ve been inside one now. Yay for us! :)

      1. Post author

        Ha ha… “den of iniquitous poison sellers.” Sounds about right.

        Shame about Whole Foods. We don’t actually have one near by so I have very little to do with them. It’s so hard when our supposed “health” stores are still selling garbage. You really got to do your homework to know what’s good.

        Thanks for stopping by, Ravi.

  1. Jamie

    Love it, Robin. My son always asks, “When can we go to McDonalds? Oh, wait, I know. . . NEVER.” Ha ha! He would love to go, but knows that I do not like that place. :) Or any fast food for that matter. . .

  2. Betsy

    Great article Robin! Thank you for deconstructing the McDonald’s hamburger and reminding me why I stay away from all fast food. Voting with my dollars could not be easier when I think of all these toxic ingredients! :)

    1. Post author

      Thanks, Betsy! Sometimes it’s good for the reminder… especially when life gets hectic and it would be so much “easier” to just grab some fake food on the go.

      1. Cassidy Collins

        I just had a burger! And after reading this… I CANNOT BELIEVE what I just put inside my body!!!:(

  3. Denise @WholemadeGoodness

    Great post — although had to skip fast past those mice pics. And while we all know those buns are chock full of garbage, this makes me even more glad that I’ve been more committed to making our own buns instead of purchasing them. :)

    1. Post author

      Thanks, Denise! I totally agree. It’s really not that hard to make your own buns, and it’s so much better for you. Thankfully, for those who are super busy there are much better store-bought alternatives… but you really got to read the ingredient list. :)

  4. Kathy @ Granny's Vital Vittles

    I developed a real interest in nutrition partly as a result of getting hugely sick from eating at Burger King every lunch for about 3 months straight on my first real job many years ago … realized something was really wrong with my diet, imagine that 😉 Great wake up call, kinda like Morgan Spurlock’s experience, LOL! Thanks for sharing this with us at Scratch Cookin’ Tuesday!

    1. Post author

      Ha ha! Yeah, I think many of us “real foodies” came here after some not-so-good wake up calls. Thanks for stopping by. :)

    1. Post author

      I know. Sometimes it blows my mind to think back to where I used to be. But usually it just makes me really happy to be where I now am and the path of progress. :)

  5. Barbara

    People love to poke at the big guys. It’s not a McDonalds thing. IT most all food in the US, I get tired of people blaming McDonalds for everything. Go buy a bottle of ketchup at the grocery store, it has the same ingredients. Go buy normal meat it comes from the same type of producers. Bread, why do you think you can keep a loaf on your counter for a week and not have it go bad, it has the same garbage in it. Unless people really take personal responsibility for what they eat, they will still be eating this crap even if they never set foot in any fast food restaurant. I live overseas and was home in the US this past summer.I was amazed at what American people did not know about their food supply. The number of people that told me that America has the strictest standards was appalling. So many foods that are not allowed in any other country because they are not safe are on the shelves all over America.

    1. Post author

      I totally agree, Barbara! That’s why I made the point at the end that it’s not just McDonald’s… it’s about empowering people with information to make better choices. With the upcoming election, I’m hoping more people will spread the word about proposition 37 in California because we do have a right to know what’s in our food.

    2. Sarah H

      Well said! Whole foods and a commitment to read labels and moderate things is the only way to go. Portion control is overlooked too and our kids need that knowledge with the size of a meal increasing 70% in 4 decades. It’s not McDonald’s fault it’s the consumers eating themselves blindly into an early grave. McDonald’s is awful when it comes to how they treat animals and pay farmers. It’s the same bullying tactics Walmart uses when closing out other stores and products. Vlassic pickles and glad Tupperware were destroyed by walmarts demands. We need to educate ourselves and buy locally. One person at a time we can become a smarter and healthier population.

  6. Jen

    Oh yuck. I haven’t eaten at a Micky D’s or any other fast food chain in a few years. Thanks for the reminder of why I should never eat there even as a last resort. Blech! I think I’d rather starve.

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  8. Sheryl

    McDonalds is not the only chain that does this. Pretty much all of them do. Not that I condone it, but one of the reasons this happens is because consumers demand cheap, fast food. And the manufacturers think that using these chemicals is the only way to do it.

    1. Post author

      Totally agree. As I mentioned in the post, I think it’s not about “ratting” out on particular fast food chain, but getting people to realize what’s in these foods so they can start demanding better stuff. Like you said, if people stop buying the crap the big guys will stop making it. :)

  9. Dana

    You’re Paleo. Why are bugs unhealthy? You eat shrimp, don’t you? (Assuming no allergy.)

    Although, honestly, I don’t believe McD’s claim that their patties are all-beef. Can’t be. I’ve tried the eating a burger without a bun thing at their establishment and it is not at all satisfactory. Whereas I’ve had them at Wendy’s and that turned out a lot better. I don’t know what the difference is, maybe fat content, but I don’t like it one bit. If I eat a quarter-pound of beef and am still hungry, something is *wrong.*

    1. Post author

      Ha, ha! Yes, Dana. I actually don’t have a problem with the idea of eating bugs. (Not actually paleo, but live by many of the same ideas.) But my guess is that the bugs used here are not really “natural” anymore… kind of like the difference between grass-fed beef from local farms and CAFO beef.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  10. kristy @ gastronomical sovereignty

    i adore this post. empowering people with knowledge and information is key to changing the scary bits of the food system. And while I agree with Barbara that we have to look at the entire food system in order to make changes – McDonalds is merely a symbol for food ways gone wrong – I think analyzing that symbol is very important. It starts a discussion. Makes people think. and that, my friend, is worthwhile.

    thanks for sharing with us at the Wednesday Fresh Foods Link-up! I hope to see you again this week with more seasonal & whole/real food posts! xo, kristy.

    1. Post author

      Agreed. McDonald’s is just a representation of what’s happening in most of the industrialized food industry. It’s not about boycotting them, it’s about educating people for real change. :)

  11. Correna

    And educate us, you do!!!! Thank you, thank you. I just started this past spring/summer that something was wrong, so I started researching foods and what was in them. UGH!! Big time changing in my life now. I have been sick (diabetic) for 16 yrs, and was never told in all that time about processed foods and such, and was simply told to lose weight, ha, doesn’t work that way, as I have found out (on my own). Through my researching I came across your blog and started following it, and everything I have read from you has backed up my findings. You have a great blog and great posts.Thank you again. Have a great day!!!

    1. Post author

      Thank, Correna! I appreciate your words. Good luck with your journey toward health. I know I’ve found so much help and support through these online communities. Best wishes!

  12. Tricia Kauffman

    I recently became a Facebook follower and am now going back through your posts. I want to repost this on my Facebook Wall (“Help empower people with information to make better choices. Share what you know.”)I cannot find anywhere in the post to do that. Am I missing something?

    1. Post author

      Thanks for stopping by, Tricia! You can share this by using any of the sharing icons at the bottom of the post (just above the “related posts” text).

      Hope that helps! :)

  13. SharonO

    Natural flavors does not necessarily mean something bad. I made jams and breads for sale and I put natural flavors in my list of ingredients so I don’t have to give away my secret ingredients, such as violet or jasmine extract.

    1. Post author

      It’s very true, Sharon. It’s doesn’t always mean it’s bad… but the problem is you don’t know what’s in there and there are plenty of things I’d personally never want to eat that can still fall under the category “natural flavors.” So it’s tricky, especially when dealing with fast food. (I’m sure your jams and breads are delightful!)

    1. Post author

      I hate to be the bearer of bad news… chic-fil-a (although tasty) is not any better. :( An occasional indulgence is fine, but definitely don’t make it a weekly habit. :)

  14. Robin

    I don’t eat at McD’s any more. Several years ago I got a hamburger there that tasted like the smell of rotten meat, made me vomit. Also the meat does not take like beef I’m not sure what else is in it but it doesn’t taste like beef at all. As for the other fast food places, In N Out has never made me sick or feel funky but then again can’t afford to eat out so I make it at home…at least I know whats in them.

    1. Post author

      Totally understand the “can’t afford to eat out”… sometimes that makes healthy living easier. 😉

  15. Eileen

    All I can say is Illllll and that I never knew what was is these so called “good hamburgers” I still think their “OKAY” but know I have a couple doubts :(

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  17. Echo

    I think that the idea of fast food started out good and when I was younger I truly believe they had a product worth eating now all the want to do is get away with the cheap way out and that seems to be the most unhealthy way out and I really think that as the time progresses we will find out the stuff that the fast food industry puts in our bodies is a whole lot of cancer causing chemicals.

  18. Shredmeister

    In Mark Bitmans How to cook everything there is an awesome easy recipie for bread. It’s called Jin Layhes no work bread.

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  20. keven

    You people kill me. I’m 55, 5′ 11″, 145 lbs in good health and have eaten McD’s occasionally all my life.
    The article maybe accurate, but misleading. Many of the nasty chemicals mentioned are so low, you’d need to 10 burgers a day to have the tumorous effects you so graphically show.
    Healthy eating is good, but demonizing or as you put it, deconstructing, is just another biased analysis. Your agenda as it were.
    Extoll the virtues without dashing anothers. Live and let live.

    1. Post author

      The problem, Keven, is that so much of our processed foods are just as bad so that it’s not ridiculous at someone could be eating the equivalent of many burgers a day… Those tumors are from GMO foods which are in 90% of processed foods… so not to far off, actually.

      I’m definitely not saying that eating there occasionally will kill you… if you are familiar with this site at all you’ll find that I am pretty balances about not going crazy about “healthy” eating… but weight is not the only factor for being “healthy” as evident by the epidemic of illness that has swept our world since processed food became king.

      1. Jon

        Weight really is the primary factor associated with the ‘epidemic of illness’ that you observe. Heavily processed and preserved foods hurt because they tend to be calorie-dense and nutritionally poor, but let’s not demonize ‘processed’ foods in general, freezing, pastuerizing, canning, cooking, baking, etc. are all methods of processing food, and though the author of this post dislikes pastuerizing, most can agree that many of the actual processes are largely agreeable.

        What processes do you actually find disagreeable?

        1. Post author

          When I say “processed” foods I’m talking more generally: Foods full of additives, preservatives, chemicals, rancid vegetable oils, etc. Obviously most food we eat is processed in some way. I’m not against freezing, canning, cooking, or baking of real food. But when I buy bread at the grocery store that has 30+ ingredients something is up because bread at home only takes a couple.

          Also, while I agree that we have a weight issue in our society, I personally think that calories are not the end-all evil. In fact, studies have shown that people used to eat more calories than we now do… but they were consuming a lot more fresh foods: vegetables, fruits, and animal products that weren’t full of hormones, disease, etc.

          I’m the first to admit that very occasionally we’ll eat out at some “fast food” place. It’s a rare experience, but I don’t stress about it because the remaining 90% of my diet is whole, clean, real food. But I grew up in a very different world. My health has dramatically improved by changing to real foods as opposed to commercial “processed” foods. I still eat hamburgers. Just grass-fed homemade hamburgers on homemade buns. I eat lots of fat. More calories than ever due to more butter, whole milk, etc. But I lost more than 40 lbs, cleared my skin up, reduced cravings, improved energy, etc. There is power in REAL food. That’s the whole point of this article: To help people see that McDonald’s (or the like) isn’t real food… so eat it sparingly.

          1. Jon

            That’s fair. People were more active too.

            I applaud your healthiness, and I don’t fault you for your stance. I just don’t like when people decry ‘processed’ foods, or say something isn’t ‘real’ food. I agree with you about preservatives, many of them are undesirable in foods. Most people don’t care about whether or not their beef is grass fed, but they might raise an eyebrow at the ingredients of that McDonald’s bun, I remember being surprised the first time I read about it. People do care, and we see it in the marketplace, foods proudly display that they have no trans-fats, or that they have X-grams of whole grains, when a decade or so ago nobody seemed to care about those things.

            The problem with the buzzwords and catchphrases like ‘real food’ and ‘processed foods’ is that they create confusion and cause loss of credibility. A good message like ‘eat simple foods without extra ingredients/lots of preservatives’ gets further muddled when you suggest that a real burger has to come from grass-fed beef, or when you post rat tumor pictures and reference a dubious study as evidence that GMO’s are bad.

            Note, when you clarified about processed foods above, it had nothing to do with the actual processes, and everything to do with the ingredients “additives, preservatives, chemicals, rancid vegetable oils…”

            It may not make a difference if you’re already preaching to the choir, but I think you could do more good for promoting healthy living by keeping a balanced tone and being clear about what you’re really against and what you really recommend.

            Just my take, an outsider’s perspective.

    2. Clean Jupite rthelightgrassgreen flower.

      everybody is difrent dude.
      You may be more prone to cancerous sun rays than I am.
      You may go outside and start catching malignant moles and listen to who’s “demonizing who” all of a sudden.
      Just because you’re lucky enought to tolerate something more than others dosen’t mean that they are really “demonizing” anythung!

  21. Evelyn

    No use of complaining about something you don’t like unless you do something about it.

  22. sauasage boy

    well at least you guys arent dissing the sausage. nothing better then a suculante sausage

  23. sauasage boy

    ill tell you what….. if they make the sausage a finger stretch bigger !!!!! my cheeks would be full of drool!!!!.

  24. Sunshine

    :/ I know its full of yuck but every once in a while I just love me some chicken(less) nuggets from mcdonalds. I am educated in all the food-like stuff and the why-is-this-even-allowed-in-food ingredients, but I really like them. I just only have them when I’ve had my diet at almost all real food. (And usually a couple days before i have a cleanse planned).

    1. Post author
      Robin Konie

      Honestly, I think that’s a perfectly healthy way to live. I’m not a huge McDonald’s fan, be very occasionally we’ll still hit up Chic-fil-a or something similar while traveling or out with family. And their food is just as bad, but I don’t stress about the occasional “bad” food. Eat real food most of the time and don’t become so obsessive that you can’t enjoy life, too. 😉

  25. MacD

    Don’t forget …. both McDonald’s and BurgerKIng buy beef (from same national beef processor), that is laden with AMMONIA to act as an anti-bacterial solution. YES, you are being poisoned by AMMONIA with these two hamburger products.

    However, in contacting Wendy’s corporate headquarters, Wendy’s say it has never used beef from the same source that the other chains get theirs, and that they NEVER use AMMONIA in their beef products.

    Me? I’m sticking with the new Wendy’s hamburgers …. they taste great!

  26. EllieChu

    Just wanted to give you a heads up that the onions might not be your safest bet. The chopped onions you get on the burgers are dehydrated onions. It comes in a package and you mix water and drain them before using them. I worked at a McDonalds when I was in high school.

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  28. GigiE

    Watch “FORKS OVER KNIVES” a movie/documentary available through the website or on Netflix. It will show you how serious this is really is. It was life changing for me and my family.

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  31. Clean Jupite rthelightgrassgreen flower.

    I used to eat fasty food everyday, and had depression problems in school, family, my job, etc…now that I’ve cut out the junk food and artificial food(And not just mcdonald!) I’ve cut out kool-aid, artificial drink mixes, I’m cutting my baby brother off of certian kid snacks laden with artificial corn syrupy food, and I’m even considering planting a garden.
    The depression had stopped and now I’m helping he and my mother get exited about whole health!

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  34. Honolulu

    Unfortunately with this bad economy. Beggers can’t be choosy and will eat garbage to survive despite how bad it is for them.

  35. John L

    Wow, good eye-opener of an article. I’ve always known there was more to McDonald’s food than met the eye, but this clearly outlines it. After this, I won’t be able to eat there again, knowing that it’s a lot of toxicity we’re consuming.

  36. Passin Thru

    I worked for a meat packer and hauled cows and meat to San Antonio meat and Martin Brower in TX. MCD bought Cancer eyed cows, so skinny you could see through them, old cows called canners and cutters. To that they added leg and rib meat and back fat, spleens, tongues and other parts from “Choice ” graded cattle thus “our hamburger comes from choice cattle. I have seen old cows down in a cattle trailer, they shot them and dragged them in the kill floor. Eat lean ground beef, grass fed, not so bad but never fastfood hamburger.

  37. Alexandria G.

    Dear robin,
    I’m a eleven year old girl
    Who’s very curious and is trying to
    Keep fit. Thank you so much for you information! Although tastes,good I now know to stay away from it. Can you do one about habbit?

  38. Andrew C.

    Hi Robin,
    Thank you so much for this article. I’m happy to finally know what really is in McDonalds’ food. Like the girl before, I am an 11 year old boy. Now I know to stay away! :-)

  39. Ann

    I totally appreciate your desire to help people know more about the food they eat. We all know fast food is not the best choice and that cooking at home is what we should all be doing, but this post uses some misleading information to support a position. Please do not take my comments as an attack… let’s have a conversation.

    First, “Organic” does not mean a food is better for the environment, healthier, or contains fewer pesticides. “Organic”, like “conventional”, has standards for production… rules for growing and marketing the product. Often, organically produced goods use MORE of the “lesser effective/less strong” pesticides than conventionally produced goods. Why? Growers have to compete with pests. Ignoring that fact can leave a field subject to unwanted visitors that can damage plants. It is life. Also, organically produced, often means more trips across the field equaling greater energy (fuel) use. Eating “organically” is fine but it is a choice and should not be use to bully or demean those who eat conventionally. It merely means one is willing to spend more on their food.

    The description of the beef patty is skewed and inaccurate. First, beef cattle are not produced in confinement situations. They are fed grass/hay for most of their diets… often grazing on hills or in pastures. It is only in the last days of their lives that they are brought in for “finishing”. Here, they are fed grain to add more fat to the meat. This is to help the product taste better, more flavor and more tender but is NOT the full diet of the animal. Why? Grain is expensive and the ruminant digestive system requires forage to operate. Contrary to popular belief, beef cattle are NOT pumped full of hormones or antibiotics. Go here for explanations (http://www.fooddialogues.com/foodsource/antibiotics…). In fact, you get more hormones from soy products than from beef. Regarding the lean finely textured beef, the public wants to know the % fat it is getting in its ground beef. To meet consumer demand, the food industry found a way to make that happen. If the consumer stopped caring about getting a 90/10 and just ate ground beef, we might see something different in the case.

    The information given regarding the American cheese is, well, disappointing. Visit a dairy! I have been to MANY! Small dairies, large dairies… they are all the same. They are run by people with a passion for cows. Heck, they even decorate their homes with cows!! It is easy to point at the management practices and call them barbaric but it is quite another thing to understand why things are done the way they are. ALL the dairies I have visited have large areas (pastures, pens, etc.) for cattle to live. They have space to walk around, move, run/jump if they choose. Most cows want to eat and ruminate. They are fed well-balanced diets, given proper medical care when needed, and milked twice a day. Milking is done in a parlor, often in a stall or on a turn table. Cows willingly walk in to a stall while a dairyman does the milking. When she is finished, she walks out just as calmly and willingly as she did when she arrived. Cows like being milked? Why? It is uncomfortable NOT being milked. Want to know more about a dairy? Check out Dairy Carrie!! http://dairycarrie.com/

    I appreciate the desire to know more about our food. Agriculture seeks to produce the safest, highest quality, most abundant food supply for the nation. These people feed their own families from what they produce. Would they want to harm their own families? Would they want to destroy their land? The answers are, “no”. It is my recommendation for people who desire to know more about their food, to visit with their local growers. Seek connections with farmers and ranchers. They want to help people learn what they do… and what they don’t do. The information is there. If you wish to know more about farmers and ranchers on the web… let me know! I would LOVE to introduce you to some.

    In the meantime, here you go…
    The Pioneer Woman (Of blogging and Food Network fame): http://thepioneerwoman.com/
    Ryan Goodman: http://agricultureproud.com/
    The Peterson Brothers (They have a phenomenal YouTube channel): https://www.facebook.com/PetersonFarmBros

    Thank you for opening the dialogue. :-)

    1. Kathi Bernier

      I have to respectfully disagree with the assertion that eating organically means I am willing to spend more on my food. We have been unable to get legislation requiring GMO labeling.. A product cannot contain GMOs and carry the organic symbol. Since something like 88% of all the corn in the US is genetically modified and no labeling is required the only way to ensure the corn I am eating is GMO free is to buy organic.. I also have to take things a step further. I want to be able to know if the beef, pork, or chicken I am eating has been fed feed containing GMOs. By law pork and chicken cannot be given growth hormones or antibiotics, however beef can. I try to avoid those also. Our local dairy http://contoocookcreamery.com/ does not use rBST/BGH and only uses antibiotics on a sick cow that has been removed from the general population and her milk thrown away until it can be tested to be antibiotic free. Unfortunately they are fed GMO containing feed and thus I do not want to consume their products.Back to the organic labeling….a product cannot carry the organic symbol and contain GMOs, however a product that does not carry the organic label could be GMO free, but not fulfill the other criteria for organic labeling. It is up to the consumer to research what we are putting into our bodies. Knowledge is empowerment.

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  41. Christy

    Wow just two weeks ago my 2year old son refuse to eat their hamburger when i bought him a happy meal. I thought he was just being pickey but he then ate some, when we was done we walked out mcdonalds and all he could do was throw it all up. Right there i knew there must be something wrong with their food because when we go eat at our organic burgers spot or when i make them fresh at home he would eat it without no hesitation.

  42. Peter

    While I appreciate the sentiment behind this article, I find something all too common in posts like this: There’s so much self-righteous back-patting on how healthy you are and how ignorant the rest of the world is. The most troubling thing for me is the sloppy use of statistics and a lot of assumptions.

    Example: The 400-600k people in North America that are negatively affected by pickles. According to a quick Google search, there are 528.7 million people in NA. That is .11% of the population that is negatively affected by the pickles! By that same logic, all peanuts should be banned since 1.4% of the population of the US suffers from peanut allergies. ~300 million people, that’s over 4 million people affected by those horrible peanuts (all done through Google – I’m not an epidemiologist).

    Also, just because ingredients are used in a scary-sounding process doesn’t mean that they should not be eaten. How many non-food chemical processes are salt involved in, yet it doesn’t mean that salt is bad. And if something sounds “iffy”, how does that prove your point?

    You look at any food closely enough and use the right descriptive words, and anything will sound horrible.

    Just to be clear: I do agree people eat way too much fast food, there are way too many extra chemicals and preservatives in our food, and I hope to eat in a more healthy way. Yes, I agree that a salad is more healthy than a McDonald’s hamburger, and I do rank the burger among the lower tier of food options a person could choose. I just don’t think it’s as simple as it’s often made out to be.

  43. Molly

    Hi! I had a quick question for you Robin- you could either post the answer on here or if you want to email me, I would greatly appreciate it. What kind of cheese do you recommend? I am working on sticking to whole foods, but I can’t lie, I LOVE cheese. I have been cutting back on it, big time, but I still love to put cheese on a sandwich or a turkey burger. I just want to know what kind of cheese I should be looking for when I’m grocery shopping. :)

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  45. Jerryana

    Thank you so much for this! Wonderful article, it was very helpful, and I like the way you write, it was funny and entertaining. I always loved the big mac so much, so I’m a bit heartbroken. Is it ok to go, say, twice a year or something? Though the thought of putting all that toxic poison in my body has really put me off… Thank you for the pictures of those poor sweet rats! I’d forgotten what sweet little faces and paws they have… Now I’ll make my own Big Macs and probably get a pet rat too <3 Thank you!

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