Wendy’s is touting their new natural cut fries as a tastier alternative to McDonald’s. And the “Natural” with “sea salt” makes it sound really healthy too. But, as always, cheap food comes at a price. BNET’s Melanie Warner spoke with Wendy’s Chief Marketing Officer, Ken Calwell , who had this to say:
“People are saying they want high integrity ingredients, things their grandmother would have used, that don’t look like they came out of a chemistry lab. But they’re also saying I’ve got a family to feed and can only afford to spend about $4 on my lunch, and I’ve only got about a minute or two to eat it.” Read more on BNET…
So what are the health tradeoffs for these fries?
What you need to know:
This the ingredient label for a medium order of fries:
Potatoes, Vegetable Oil (contains one or more of the following oils: canola, soybean, cottonseed, sunflower, corn), Dextrose, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate (to maintain natural color). Cooked in Vegetable Oil (soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, natural flavor [vegetable], citric acid [preservative], dimethylpolysiloxane [anti-foaming agent]). Cooked in the same oil as menu items that contain Wheat, Egg, Milk, and Fish (where available). Seasoned with Sea Salt.
If you are wondering why all the different oil types – it’s just a question of price. Whichever oil is the cheapest for Wendy’s to buy, is the one that will be coating your fries. What we don’t understand is why use hydrogenated oils for frying.
The potatoes are not peeled. This adds about 1 gram, or 2.5% of your daily value of fiber to a medium serving. Skipping the peeling process also shaves a few cents off of the cost to Wendy’s.
43% percent increase in sodium compared to the previous Wendy’s version. That’s 500mg (more that 20% of the daily max) in a medium serving of fries.
The calorie count is 420 for the medium size. That’s BEFORE the burger and the soda. Luckily, each packet of ketchup is only 10 calories.
To keep the fries from browning when frozen, they are coated with dextrose (a type of sugar from corn) and sodium acid pyrophosphate. Both are safe, but lead to the question why freeze the fries in the first place? Well, the process for making fries is to fry them once at a central location, then ship them to your local neighborhood Wendy’s where they are kept frozen until you order them. Then they are fried again.
The frying oil includes dimethylpolysiloxane, a chemical that prevents the oil from foaming after repeated use. Its’ a type of silicone (used in silly putty too) and not considered toxic, according to the World Health Organization. And yet, other countries have found other ways to prevent foaming oil.
To summarize, the image presented to consumers is that of an all “natural” product. In practice, we see it gets quite a lot of help from a chemistry set.
[Shout out to Juliette for suggesting this post.]