I loved fast food. I would have married it had that been an option. When I was a city dweller, I would make every excuse in the book to eat somewhere so I didn’t have to cook. Not surprisingly, I craved this food more and more and ate it more and more. I recently decided to look up some of my favorite fast food places. Just reading about them makes my mouth water even now! Let’s take a look at what Knowledge Sutra has to say about my four favorite drive thru restaurants of the past.
The egg’s reputation is recovering, but scrambled eggs as a part of McDonald’s breakfast include much more than egg. Their pasteurized whole eggs have sodium acid pyrophosphate, citric acid, and monosodium phosphate (all added to preserve color), and nisin, a preservative. To top it off, the eggs are prepared with liquid margarine: liquid soybean oil, water, partially hydrogenated cottonseed and soybean oils (trans fats), salt, hydrogenated cottonseed oil (trans fat), soy lecithin, mono- and diglycerides, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate (preservatives), artificial flavor, citric acid, vitamin A palmitate, and beta carotene (color). Though not all bad, these added chemicals may be the reason why homemade scrambled eggs taste so much better than McDonald’s.
For coffee drinkers, it would seem fairly safe to just grab a quick cup of coffee at McDonald’s on the way to work. But many health conscious people would object to it also including this list of ingredients: sodium phosphate, sodium polyphosphate, Di-Acetyl Tartrate Ester of Monoglyceride, sodium stearoyl lactylate, tetra sodium pyrophosphate, sodium hexametaphosphate, sodium citrate, and carrageenan. Do health nuts still drink coffee?
Salads can usually be counted on to be a “what you see is what you get” item. But McDonald’s adds some interesting ingredients. The salads with grilled chicken also have liquid margarine.
Several salads have either cilantro lime glaze, or orange glaze added. Along with many of McDonald’s sauces, both the cilantro lime glaze and the orange glaze contain propylene glycol alginate. While propylene glycol is considered “GRAS” for human consumption, it is not legal for use in cat food because the safety hasn’t been proven yet . Propylene glycol is also used “As the killing and preserving agent in pitfall traps, usually used to capture ground beetles” .
The chili lime tortilla strips that are included in the southwest salads have several ingredients used to hide MSG. They also contain two ingredients that advertise the presence of MSG: disodium inosinate, and disodium guanylate.
The chicken has sodium phosphates (of an unspecified variety). It could be trisodium phosphate (a cleanser), monosodium phosphate (a laxative), or disodium hydrogen phosphate . Why would McDonald’s add sodium phosphates (a foaming agent), and dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent in their crispy chicken breast fillets? It isn’t dishwasher detergent.
It’s interesting to note that the BK Veggie Burger has six ingredients commonly used to hide free glutamate (MSG): calcium caseinate, hydrolyzed corn, yeast extract, soy protein isolate, spices, and natural flavors. At the end of the ingredients list, it states This is NOT a vegan product. The patty is cooked in the microwave. Was that a warning statement?
Burger King has three salads to choose from. The TENDERCRISP Garden Salad, the TENDERGRILL Garden Salad, and the Side Garden Salad.
A salad may be a little boring without a dressing like Ken’s Fat Free Ranch Dressing which includes titanium dioxide (an artificial color, or sunscreen, depending on use), preservatives, and the ingredient seemingly mandatory in all ranch dressings: monosodium glutamate.
Once again, as is typical with the fast food industry, they took a simple thing like chicken, and added a long list of ingredients.
TENDERGRILL® CHICKEN BREAST FILET
Chicken Breast with Rib Meat, Water, Seasoning (Maltodextrin, Salt, Sugar, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Garlic Powder, Spices, Natural Flavors, Onion Powder, Modified Corn Starch, Chicken Fat, Chicken Powder, Chicken Broth, Disodium Guanylate and Disodium Inosinate, Citric Acid, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Dehydrated Garlic, and Artificial Flavors.), Modified Corn Starch, Soybean Oil, Salt, Sodium Phosphates. Glazed with: Water, Seasoning [Maltodextrin, Salt, Sugar, Methylcellulose, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Partially Hydrogenated Sunflower Oil, Modified Potato Starch, Fructose, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Dehydrated Garlic, Spices, Modified Corn Starch, Xanthan Gum, Natural Flavors, Disodium Guanylate and Disodium Inosinate, Chicken Fat, Carmel Color, Grill Flavor (from Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and Cottonseed Oil), Chicken Powder, Chicken Broth, Turmeric, Smoke Flavor, Annatto Extract, and Artificial Flavors], Soybean Oil. 
If a sandwich is advertised as healthy, one would expect that the bread would be whole grain. Not so with Subway’s wheat bread. While it does have some whole wheat flour, it’s the third ingredient, listed just before high fructose corn syrup . None of Subway’s breads are whole grain. Ammonium sulfate (a fertilizer) is also added. Unfinished sandwiches may be composted. The bread also contains azodicarbonamide. From Wikipedia,
Use of azodicarbonamide as a food additive is banned in Australia. In the UK, the Health and Safety Executive has identified azodicarbonamide as a respiratory sensitiser (a possible cause of asthma) and determined that products should be labeled with “May cause sensitisation by inhalation” .
Most of the meats at Subway contain MSG and/or sodium nitrite.
The chicken, the gravy, and even the rice all have monosodium glutamate added. Not surprisingly, the chicken in the salads also has MSG. For a healthy menu item, the House Side Salad without dressing has nothing more than iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, and tomatoes.
KFC claims 0g trans fat per serving for all their fried chicken. But The Extra Crispy Chicken, Colonel’s Crispy Strips, HBBQ Wings, Boneless HBBQ Wings, Fiery Buffalo Wings, and more have partially hydrogenated soybean oil listed in the ingredients. So if the trans fat content is below 0.5g per serving, they can round down to zero and claim zero grams per serving.
There you have it – in its chemical glory. Not so appetizing now, is it? I have a very hard time just smelling the greasy odors these places emit – there is no way I could eat at any of them now. Our daughter would love nothing more for us to succumb to the lure of the bright play areas and colorful containers but we have no plans to do that – ever.
Interesting facts about what they consider food! Head over to the Knowledge Sutra website – there are more restaurants listed!