Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Holy McCow

McDonald's, fresh off the "Oops, they have more trans fats than we thought, maybe 8 instead of 6 grams" nightmare, now they have to announce that their fries also might contain allergens. Great news for celiac patients...I'm no advocate for McDonald's as I haven't eaten there more than twice in 27 years, but here's the deal:

Many commercially sold fries are batter coated to keep them crunchy, presentable and flavorful after a good trip through the fryer. That batter may contain wheat and/or dairy derivatives, which is what McDonald's meant when they explained that their potato suppliers removed all wheat and dairy proteins. The proteins in wheat and dairy (gluten for wheat and casein for milk and cheese) are allergens -- people are only allergic to proteins. So they figure if the proteins are removed, people won't have reactions to them (and they might be right about that). They have flavors in the oil, too, and those come from wheat or dairy derivatives as well. I never knew that before...

All this is in response to the FDA's request that packaged food suppliers inform people about possible allergens in the food. Meanwhile, McDonald's is attempting to create a fry with lower trans fat without increasing the saturated fat. That will take some doing. I wonder if they'll eventually offer a "baked" fry that takes a trip through the convection oven as an alternative. With their luck, they'll be just in time for research quantifying acrylamide levels on baked and fried carbohydrate/protein foods! (Don't panic, so far it's been in very small amounts...but it's not well researched just yet...)

Last time I went to McDonald's, in 1986 after the Thanksgiving parade when I was starving, all I had was the fries (haven't had a burger there since I was 13, and I wasn't a vegetarian for another 20 years -- call it intuition). They do taste good. And every 20 years or so I indulge (so this might be my year, huh?). Perhaps that's about right considering what's in them.


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