McDonald's May Serve GMO Fries and More News
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In today's Media Mix, In-N-Out's cease-and-desist letter, plus the problem with diet pills
The Daily Meal brings you the biggest news from the food world.
In-N-Out Case: After receiving a cease-and-desist letter from In-N-Out about a menu item called the Double Double burger, Underbelly has renamed it the "Cease and Desist" Burger. [Eater]
McDonald's GMO? Although currently McDonald's does not serve genetically modified potatoes, dodgy company answers suggests that in the future, it may be a possibility. [Chicago Tribune]
Diet Pill Chemicals: The FDA has issued a warning about diet pillls like Fat Zero, Fruit & Plant Slimming, and Extreme Body Slim for containing chemicals like sibutramine that may be linked to cancer. [NBC News]
Alcohol vs. Weed: Apparently, Miley Cyrus believes alcohol is more dangerous than weed, and we suppose she speaks from experience. [CNN]
McDonald's rejects GMO potatoes
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved Idaho-based J.R. Simplot Co.'s new genetically modified potato. But one of the company's oldest business partners - McDonald's - hasn't.
The fast-food giant says it doesn't use genetically modified potatoes."McDonald's USA does not source GMO potatoes, nor do we have current plans to change our sourcing practices," the company said in a statement.
The USDA this month gave Boise-based Simplot permission to begin commercial planting of its new spud, called the "Innate" potato. The company altered the potato's DNA so it produces less acrylamide, which is suspected to be a human carcinogen. Potatoes naturally produce the chemical when they're cooked at high temperatures.
The potato is also engineered to resist bruising.
Simplot is a major supplier of french fries, hash browns and other potato products for restaurant chains like McDonald's.
This isn't the first time the fast-food industry has resisted GMO potatoes. More than a decade ago, Monsanto brought its bug-resistant "New Leaf" line of genetically modified potato to market. Buyers, led by the fast-food industry, rejected the Monsanto spud, and it was pulled from production due to lack of business.
Simplot spokesman Doug Cole didn't address the company's plans to sell to the fast-food industry or the dehydrated potato industry, which both have urged growers against planting GMO potatoes. But Cole said the fresh potato market would embrace Innate.
Consumers will be receptive to the reduced sugars and potential carcinogens, Cole said. Because only 400 test acres of Innate varieties were planted and harvested this fall, production can't ramp up until after the 2015 harvest, he said.
Rupert potato grower Duane Grant said he's been told by buyers in the dehydrated potato industry not to plant the GMO potatoes. But he hopes to line up willing buyers so that he can plant the biotech potatoes and reap the higher yields that come with their reduced bruising, he said.
Consumers will be more receptive to Simplot's potato than Monsanto's because it benefits them, not just growers, he said.
The key for Simplot and for growers, Grant said, will be convincing the food industry, which is worried about consumer backlash, to trust the product.
"Brand equity is extremely important to quick-serve restaurants," Grant said. "They will avoid conflict whenever possible in order to protect equity of their brand name."
After 30 Years On the Menu, This McDonald's Item May Never Come Back
As only the most loyal McDonald's fans have noticed, there are several menu changes that were made back in April that are still lingering at the fast-food chain. For example, the All Day Breakfast still hasn't reappeared , and odds are, it never will. Why? Because McDonald's has actually seen its efficiency benefit greatly from the simplified menu.
Another item cut from the menu for the sake of efficiency was the salad. All of McDonald's salad options, which included the Bacon Ranch, the Southwest, and the side salad, left the menu quietly and rather unceremoniously, and no one really seemed to miss them too much. However, with the chain having brought back items like the Bacon McDouble, vanilla ice cream cones, and chocolate chip cookies over the summer, the continued absence of the salad is prompting more questions. Is it ever coming back? (Related: McDonald's Is Making These 8 Major Upgrades.)
Judging by the brand's Tweets at wondering customers , McDonald's doesn't seem to have any imminent plans to bring the salad back. "We hope you find a new favorite soon," is about as telling of an answer as any—salads are likely gone for good, after having spent almost 30 years on McDonald's menus.
Industry insiders have shed some light on why the chain is so happy to keep salads off the menu. Besides simplifying the jobs of their servers, who can fulfill orders faster when there are fewer items to make, the chain will also streamline their ingredient purchases.
"Instead of needing to purchase two kinds of lettuce, one for salads and one for sandwiches, now McDonald's needs only one," Jonathan Maze, editor in chief of Restaurant Business magazine, explained to The Washington Post .
But just because they're out with the old, doesn't mean McDonald's isn't growing their menu. This year, we've seen the chain put out plenty of new offers, like the Spicy Chicken Nuggets which sold out in record time , the seasonal return of the McRib , and the announcement of a brand new chicken sandwich and plant-based burger for 2021 . Ummm, salad who?
Still, if you're feeling nostalgic, indulge in your feels by taking a look at some other beloved McDonald's items that have been discontinued below.
McDonald&rsquos Fries Will Never Go Soggy Again With This Tip
This will change how you travel home from the McDonald&rsquos drive-thru forever.
McDonald&rsquos fries are awesome. But, like all takeaway fries, they do tend to go a bit soggy, if you&rsquore not careful. Like, if you&rsquove promised yourself you wouldn&rsquot eat every single one on your way home from the McDonald&rsquos drive-thru, there&rsquos a good chance that, by the time you get home, they&rsquoll have lost their crunch.
So, what can we do to ensure our fries stay crispy until we get to enjoy them at home?
Well, lucky for us, an ex-McDonald&rsquos employee has given us a simple tip that will ensure there will be no more soggy chips for dinner.
Sydney radio producer, Bruno Bouchet, worked at a McDonald's in Brisbane for three years when he was a teenager.
And he says it's all to do with the paper bag.
&ldquoWhen you're at the drive-thru, you get given your chips, and they end up getting soggy. So, I'm going to tell you. the error everyone makes is closing the top of the bag that contains the chips,&rdquo Bruno told KIIS FM&rsquos Kyle and Jackie O.
&ldquoBecause you'd think if you make it nice and airtight, the heat will keep the chips warm. Wrong. What it actually does is, it steams the potatoes, so you're left with sloppy chips. So, you're actually steaming them when you close the bag.
&ldquoSo, the hack is simple: you need the heat to escape, so first things first &ndash bag open. Secondly, you know how the chips are placed upwards in the bag? Put the chips horizontally because that would slow the rate of the heat escaping. It would go out one side rather than straight from the top.
&ldquoFinally, stack the bags so they're horizontally at the bottom - and you put the burgers on top of the chips to keep them warm.
&ldquoLet me recap, chips at the bottom, tip them horizontally, burgers on top, let the bag breathe - you'll never have soggy chips ever again in your life, I guarantee it.&rdquo
So simple, and yet so effective.
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McDonald's fries take a chemical bath
If you look closely at McDonald's ingredient list for their fries, you'll notice quite a few hard-to-pronounce ingredients. Two of those ingredients, dextrose and sodium acid pyrophosphate, are added at the factory, essentially giving the cut potatoes a nice chemical bath.
According to Heathline, dextrose is a simple sugar made from corn, which is often used as a sweetener and can typically be found in processed foods and corn syrup. Medically, it can be used to increase a person's blood sugar. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, sodium acid pyrophosphate actually reduces the levels of acrylamide, a carcinogen present when potatoes are fried, so there might be some chemical additions we should be applauding.
Registered dietitian Georgie Fear told ABC that the dextrose helps the fries have a uniform golden color, and the sodium acid pyrophosphate keeps them from turning an unappealing gray color after they are cooked. Fear explained it further, saying, "Dextrose is simply a sugar that occurs naturally in our blood. To my knowledge there is no data of any health concerns from sodium acid pyrophosphate."
McDonald’s serves WHAT in London?! The outrageous double standard in fast food.
If you’ve ever been to the U.K., you might notice that the fast food restaurants over there are a little bit different, and slightly healthier than they are here. In the past, I wrote about how it’s a common practice for food companies (everyone from Betty Crocker to Pringles to Quaker Oats) to reformulate their products with safer ingredients overseas, while they continue to sell us inferior products with unhealthy ingredients here in the States. If you walk into any McDonald’s in the U.K. you’ll find organic milk available for children in their Happy Meals, and no chocolate milk. Just think about that for a minute…
McDonald’s serves organic milk to children in the U.K.? But not here in the U.S.?
McDonald’s also serves organic milk with their porridge (oatmeal), coffee and tea! You’ll also find healthier items, like pineapple and carrot sticks that you won’t find at any McDonald’s in the U.S. – also without preservatives. Their fries aren’t cooked in oil that contains TBHQ (a derivative of butane) or the anti-foaming agent dimethylpolysiloxane (an ingredient in silly putty) like they are here. Isn’t it funny that the oil in the U.K. seems to work just fine without these ingredients?
Pull through the Taco Bell drive-thru and you won’t be able to order Cinnabon desserts and big Mt. Dew Baja Blast Frozen drinks because these super sugary “treats” simply aren’t available. If you dine at Pizza Hut, you’ll get to take advantage of a free unlimited salad bar full of fresh vegetables (like they used to have in the United States but discontinued). I’m not saying everything is healthy in these restaurants, because it’s certainly not – but, it’s definitely different than what we’ve got going on here in the U.S. Not only are their ingredients different, but they are serving up completely different ingredients and menu choices. One startling thing I noticed is that many of the menu items in the U.K. contain far less sugar than the versions that they serve us in the U.S.
Five Fast-Food Restaurants Serving Up More Sugar In the U.S.:
1. McDonald’s Chocolate Shake (without whip cream or cherry on top)
If you order a large chocolate shake in the U.K., you’ll get it in the classic smaller cup (16.9 oz.) that I remember as a kid. This is about the same size as a medium size shake now in the U.S., as cup sizes have grown dramatically over the years. McDonald’s has changed their shakes for the worse in the U.S. and now serve new larger versions (22 oz.) with whipped cream that contain an astounding 120 grams of sugar. In the U.K. that large shake still has a whole lot of sugar (67 grams), but it’s so much less sugar than what we get here at home. Taking into account the bigger cups sizes in the U.S., ounce for ounce, the U.S. McDonald’s shake without whip has 33% more sugar than the U.K. version.
2. Pizza Hut Pepperoni Lovers/Pepperoni Feast Thin Crust Pizza (14” large/8 slices)
Not only would you get to take advantage of that free unlimited salad bar in the U.K., but when you order this pizza it only contains 16 grams of sugar, versus a whopping 40 grams in the U.S. version. That’s 151% more sugar!
3. Subway Turkey Ham Sandwich (6″ with 9-grain wheat bread, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers and onions)
Subway used to be one of my go-to “healthy” sandwiches before I stopped eating processed fast food. Their Turkey Ham Sandwich isn’t exactly high in sugar, but here in the U.S. you’ll get over 56% more sugar (8 grams of sugar for 217 gram subway sandwich) than if you were to order the exact same sandwich in the U.K (5.4 grams of sugar for 228 gram sandwich).
4. Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte (20 oz. venti, semi-skim/2% milk with whip)
Following my Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte investigation, I couldn’t help but wonder if Starbucks was serving up the same ingredients in other countries. I obtained the complete list of ingredients for the Pumpkin Spice latte in the U.K., and my hunches were correct. Not only did they reformulate their recipe with safer ingredients, but it also contains a lot less sugar. The venti Pumpkin Spice (2% milk with whip) in the U.S. has a whopping 58% percent more sugar than the U.K. version. A “tall” latte in the U.S. (small size) has almost the same amount of sugar as the Venti (large size).
Starbucks also doesn’t use use caramel coloring in the U.K., which proves this is a totally unnecessary ingredient. Instead, they color it with beta carotene (from carrots) and don’t use preservatives. Starbucks is telling news agencies here in the U.S. that they’ve got a “team in place” working on phasing out caramel coloring in the U.S. But, they’ve already done it in the U.K., so why can’t they just serve the same, safer, product here?
*Caramel Color Level IV contains 4-MEI, which is classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”. The National Toxicology Program also has determined caramel coloring level IV compound 4-MEI to be a carcinogen.
McDonald's Reveals Exactly How Your Beloved Fries Are Made
-- Ah, McDonald’s French fries. It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like the American classic, regardless of their thoughts on the fast food chain.
It’s always been a bit hazy, though, how exactly McDonald’s makes their addictive potato sticks -- until now. McDonald’s released the above video detailing the process, which we’ve broken down for you below, along with registered dietician Georgie Fear’s take on the ingredients.
Step 1: Peel, Cut and Blanch
The fast food chain uses non-GMO potatoes, including shepody, ranger russet, Umatilla russet and russet Burbank varieties. Once arrived at the plant, the potatoes are peeled and forced through a cutter at 65 MPH to make uniform fries. They’re then briefly immersed in hot water to remove excess natural sugars for color reasons. According to McDonald’s, blanching also eliminates enzymatic activity which prevents spoilage and develops a fluffy interior, similar to a baked potato, for better texture.
Step 2: Dip in “Ingredient Bath”
This is the most unnatural step of the process. The now-cut and blanched fries are dipped in an “ingredient bath” which consists of dextrose and sodium acid pyrophosphate. The dextrose, a natural form of sugar, is to help achieve a uniform golden color and the sodium acid pyrophosphate prevents the potatoes from turning grayish after they are cooked, according to McDonald’s.
Fear said these ingredients are of no health concern. “Dextrose is simply a sugar that occurs naturally in our blood,” the author of “Lean Diet” told ABC News. “As for the sodium acid pyrophosphate, when potatoes are cut and then exposed to air, they turn a green, greyish-brown color which isn’t very appealing to the end consumer. This chemical keeps them nice and white-looking. To my knowledge there is no data of any health concerns from sodium acid pyrophosphate.”
Step 3: Dry & Quick Fry
Next, the fries are dried and partially fried to ensure a crisp exterior. McDonald’s not only fries the potatoes in a mix of oils – canola, soybean and hydrogenated soybean – but also adds natural beef flavor derived from beef fat that contains wheat and milk derivatives for flavor, citric acid for preservation and dimethylpolysiloxane to reduce oil foaming and extend the quality of the oil life, according to McDonald’s.
The only thing to note about the beef fat for Fear is that it makes the French fries no long vegetarian, and for those with wheat or milk allergies, the fries could trigger reactions.
“Wheat is often used for non-clumping. I do not know McDonald’s’ process at all but my expectation would be that the wheat and milk derivatives are added to the flavoring to make it a usable powder,” Fear said. “Citric acid is completely benign found in fruit. I haven’t heard of dimethylpolysiloxane, but since I work in the health field I would probably have heard of it if it were a health concern.”
Step 4: Flash Freeze
The fries are then flash frozen, which is how they arrive at the restaurants.
Step 5: Ship & Cook in Restaurants
When you’re ready to order, the restaurants cook the fries for a third time, frying them in more oil. This time, it’s a vegetable oil blend of canola, corn, soybean and hydrogenated soybean oils. There’s also TBHQ, an antioxidant that extends the shelf-life of the oil and acts as a preservative for the oil, citric acid for freshness and more dimethylpolysiloxane to help reduce oil spattering, according to McDonald’s.
"TBHQ is an antioxidant that prevents oil from going rancid,” Fear explained. “The Food & Drug Administration as well as the European Food Safety Administration have both determined it to be safe in quantities under .02%, so as long as McDonald’s is not adding it above the legal limit, there should be no concerns.”
Finally, the chain adds salt after the fries are cooked, though you can request unsalted.
Out of the 19 ingredients in the French fries, surprisingly only one is of concern to Fear.
“For the consumers, they see this long list of more than 10 ingredients and many of them look like big, long, alien chemicals. However to a nutritionist with expertise in biochemistry, the one that makes me not eat McDonald’s French fries is hydrogenated oil,” Fear said. “Hydrogenated oils are a source of trans fat, which is shown to be negative for human health in many ways.”
Hydrogenated fat is often present in solid shortening, vegetable shortening and some margarine. Liquid canola and vegetables oils do not contain it.
McDonald's Is Standing Behind This Decision That's Disappointed Customers
For more than a year now, the pandemic has caused fast-food chains to operate very nimbly in order to encourage sales. McDonald's was among the hot spots that were forced to make some tough decisions in that period. Now, the president of McDonald's USA has just told investors that while some customers have been frustrated with these moves, it hasn't stopped them from coming back.
Restaurant Business has the report, following an investor call on Thursday led by Joe Erlinger, president of McDonald's USA. Erlinger said that last year at this time—when the pandemic had suddenly but severely dampened McDonald's business—the company moved fast to evaluate what customers really wanted. The company eliminated items like salads, the artisan grilled chicken sandwich, chicken tenders, and its All Day Breakfast, which they'd introduced in 2015. "Driving customer visits begins with committing to the core menu," Erlinger said. Because perhaps in truth, most customers really do roll up to McDonald's craving classics like a Quarter Pounder, Big Mac, or fries.
Erlinger said on the call that removing "dozens of" these items in the U.S. has definitely helped business: "Our drive-thrus got faster, margins grew and customer satisfaction improved … Put simply, our restaurants became easier to run and more profitable."
Other McDonald's executives have revealed that over the past year, being forced to turn primarily to the drive-thru as the point of service (since the dine-in option has been restricted) has actually been a win. It's given the brand an opportunity to further focus on streamlining the drive-thru experience. Blake Casper, chairman of one of McDonald's franchisee organizations, was quoted saying last June: "The limited menu and ease of operations are allowing our teams to focus and provide blazing fast service," adding, "Our teams are doing amazing work in our drive-thrus."
So while it seems unlikely you'll see All Day Breakfast return to Micky D's anytime soon, at least you know McDonald's is there for the orders you've always shown up for. Plus, insiders say, as McDonald's has been more discriminating about which new menu they do introduce (think spicy Chicken McNuggets and the spicy chicken sandwich), orders like this are keeping fans flocking.
Still frustrated by McDonald's recent cuts? It sounds like Burger King may be chasing your breakfast business.
McDonald's Has Finally Added Waffle Fries to the Menu
McDonald's may have just debuted fried cheese bites, but it's still not done tinkering with the menu this year. In addition to the chain's famous fries, some locations are starting to serve crispy waffle fries. The catch? You may have to go on a road trip&mdashor hop on a plane&mdashto get them.
According to Brand Eating, McDonald's restaurants in Canada have added waffle-cut fries to their holiday lineup. As if that weren't enough, they're layering cheeseburgers with bacon and hash browns. Because nothing says "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Hanukkah" quite like a quarter pounder with tots on top.
While we're grateful for the peppermint mocha the Golden Arches is whipping up stateside, we're also hoping the frites cross the border sometime this season. Or hey, even next year. We can be patient-ish.
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Get your oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, and drop in your fries. At that temperature, and with the very thin shoestring fries, the cooking time will be rather quick. Everything I could find from "alleged McDonald's employees" online says that the fries cook for three minutes, 10 seconds. Three minutes, 10 seconds in my fryer produced overdone fries. After a few (a lot) of attempts, the perfect cooking time for fries at that temp is 2 minutes, but keep an eye on them in case you need to go longer (or shorter) in the cook time.
As soon as they're done, get them out and salt them — McDonald's salts the daylights out of them, but you can apply as much as your delicate sodium loaded body can take.
- Connaught Plaza restaurants, that operates 140 restaurants across North and East of India, introduced WhatsApp delivery service
When restaurants shut their doors in 2020 due to the lockdown, people craved for their Aloo Tikki burgers and Piri Piri fries. The convenience of filling one&rsquos stomach with a Happy Meal of Rs 100 seemed like a distant dream. So, when the government eased restrictions and QSRs opened their doors, McDonald&rsquos had to return stronger and savvier. Customers had to be served their favourite fast food, but now with extra care.
This is when Connaught Plaza Restaurants, which operates 140 restaurants across North and East of India, transformed their business with a strong focus on the safety and wellness of customers and employees. Sanjeev Agrawal, Chairman and Developmental Licensee, of Connaught Plaza Restaurants says, &ldquoApart from ensuring 100% contactless ordering at restaurants, we also introduced WhatsApp-based McDelivery service.&rdquo
This was well-received by the customers as the company saw significant increased visitors at most of its drive-thru restaurants and McDelivery channels. &ldquoThe numbers exceed pre-COVID levels,&rdquo claims Agrawal.
Global Safety+ Programme
Furthermore, the company strengthened the Global Safety+ program, which is a system of enhanced hygiene and safety practices. It includes nearly 50-plus process changes in restaurant operations. &ldquoWe introduced this program last year to help ensure that every part of the McDonald&rsquos experience is safe for its customers and employees,&rdquo explains Agrawal.
Some of the safety processes include thermal screening, masks and gloves for employees, frequent handwashing and use of hand sanitisers. As customers enter the restaurant, visual cues on the floor are set to guide them to the seating area and indicate physical distancing. &ldquoAt the front counter, protective shields have also been introduced as an additional safety barrier for customers and staff,&rdquo adds Agrawal.
Last but not the least, comes everyone&rsquos favourite part &ndash the menu. In 2020, the company introduced items such as Whole Wheat Bun, Shake-Shake Fries and McNuggets with piri-piri seasoning, Big Hug Burger with double patty variants and Masala Chai to spice up the menu.
&ldquoMenu innovation is an ongoing part of our business. This year, too, we will continue enhancing our menu with items as per the Indian taste palate,&rdquo says Agrawal. So, one can expect more Aloo Tikki burgers and Maharaja Macs going forward. And finally, to create a warm, welcoming and comfortable environment in the restaurants, the company plans to modernize the outlets with added convenience-leveraging technology.
Connaught Plaza Restaurants definitely has a lot on its plate for 2021, but that only means that customers will be served Happier Meals!
Architects of India's future will define the agenda for growth in this Golden Decade, at the Times Network India Economic Conclave - 25, 26 March | New Delhi. Watch LIVE coverage from the ground on Times Network News channels and www.indiaeconomicconclave.com.
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