McDonald’s is introducing a new item in its San Francisco bay area locations: Fish McBites. Here’s the PR pitch we received via email:
[McDonald’s] is making waves with a new limited-time fish menu option—Fish McBites … crispy, tender pieces of wild-caught Alaska Pollock … responsibly sourced from Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified sustainable fisheries, making McDonald’s the first fast food chain in the U.S. to offer MSC certified sustainable fish on its menu all year long.
Well, we certainly are happy that a fish option is being made available, especially in Happy Meals. And the sustainability piece is impressive coming from McDonald’s. Kudos.
Our biggest concern, as always, is what a fast food chain does to food in order to streamline delivery of millions of uniform servings within 90 seconds of order by a hungry customer.
So we took a look at the product the ingredient list:
Pollock, Wheat Flour, Water, Vegetable Oil (Canola Oil, Corn Oil, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Citric Acid As Preservative), Modified Corn Starch, Contains Less Than 2% Of: Yellow Corn Flour, Torula Yeast, Salt, Leavening (Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Monocalcium Phosphate, Disodium Pyrophosphate), Dried Garlic, Dried Onion, Spices, Wheat Gluten, Sugar, Spice Extractives, Methylcellulose, Colored With Paprika And Turmeric Extracts. CONTAINS: FISH (POLLOCK) AND WHEAT Prepared in Vegetable Oil (Canola Oil, Corn Oil, Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil with TBHQ and Citric Acid added to preserve freshness). Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an Antifoaming Agent.
We highlighted the ingredients of concern:
Hydrogenated oils – while not as bad as partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats), they are still high in saturated fats.
Torula yeast – an MSG look a like.
TBHQ (tertiary butylhydroquinone) a petroleum industry derivative used as an antioxidant to keep oils from going rancid. TBHQ cannot exceed 0.02% of the oil and fat content in a food. The food industry pushed the FDA for years to get it approved as a preservative despite the fact that ingestion of large doses (a thirtieth of an ounce) can cause nausea, delirium, and ringing of the ears.
Dimethylpolysiloxane, also called dimethicone or Antifoam A, is an antifoaming additive used in a variety of processed food products and drinks. Its’ a type of silicone and not considered toxic, according to the World Health Organization. It’s most notably used in Silly Putty.
Aside from these fantastic four, you may ask yourself why water is the third ingredient. We’re asking too.
Bottom line: Overall this seems like a marginally better option than Chicken McNuggets, but still not a reason to visit Ronald McDonald.