McDonald’s McWraps. A Nutritious Choice?

Mcdonalds McWrap Spoof

Did you know that McDonald’s has been overtaken by Subway in number of locations in the US? Riding the wave of nutrition awareness has done good for the latter, a purveyor of foot long subs. Now Ronald McDonald wants in on the fun.

Enter the new McWrap.

According to McDonald’s: 

Savor all this goodness…Wrapped up and ready to go! We’ve taken a feast from the table – and moved it to a tortilla. Enjoy your choice of a grilled or crispy white-meat chicken breast filet, crisp veggies and tasty sauces, wrapped in a warm, flour tortilla, just for you.

Let’s cut through the market-speak. Basically it’s a tortilla with chicken, plus some additions. The calorie range is 360-600. Crispy means fried.

Let’s look at a middle of the road choice: Premium McWrap Chicken & Ranch (Grilled)

McDonald’s makes it VERY HARD for you to understand this item’s nutritional information. (Word of the Day: Obfuscate – (v) Render obscure, unclear, or unintelligible). McDonald’s is obfuscating its menu’s nutrition information in several ways. To see a product’s nutrition facts panel, one must download this PDF. To see the ingredients list, one must download another PDF.

There’s more, but first the nutrition facts. This wrap is 430 Calories and contains 6 grams of saturated fat (30% of the daily max). The sodium level is worrisome at 1130 mg. That’s about half of the daily max for healthy adults! We do like the 3 grams of fiber and 30 grams of protein.

Now back to the ingredients and a game of hide and seek we are forced to endure simply to understand what’s in our lunch. A first look at the ingredient list for the Chicken Ranch Wrap is very promising. It looks like a very short and healthy lineup:

Grilled Chicken Fillet, Flour Tortilla, Shredded Lettuce, Cucumber, Tomato Slice, Shredded Cheddar/Jack Cheese, Spring Mix, Buttermilk Ranch Sauce, Seasoned Rice Vinegar

But then you realize that 6 of the 9 ingredients above are actually highly processed foodlike substances. We’ve conveniently underlined them for you. Thank heavens for lettuce, cucumbers, and ONE tomato slice!

Below is a long list of ALL the ingredients in this wrap. We cobbled them from the ingredient PDF for your convenience. We highlighted the problematic ones in bold:

Grilled Chicken Fillet: (30 ingredients)

Chicken breast fillet with rib meat, water, seasoning (rice starch, salt, sugar, yeast extract, canola oil, onion powder, maltodextrin, chicken skin, paprika, flavor,
sunflower oil, chicken, garlic powder, chicken fat, spices), sodium phosphates.
Prepared with Liquid Margarine: Liquid soybean oil and hydrogenated cottonseed and soybean oils, water, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, salt, soy lecithin,
mono-and diglycerides, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate (preservatives), artificial flavor, citric acid, vitamin A palmitate, beta carotene (color).

Flour Tortilla: (23)

Enriched Flour (Bleached Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, Shortening (Interesterified
Soybean Oil and/or Hydrogenated Soybean Oil and/or Soybean Oil and/or Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil), Contains 2% or Less of: Sugar, Leavening (May Contain One or More of: Baking Soda, Sodium Aluminum Sulfate, Corn Starch, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Calcium Sulfate, Monocalcium Phosphate), Salt, Wheat Gluten, Dough Conditioners (Sodium Metabisulfite [Contains Sulfites], Distilled Monoglycerides).

Shredded Cheddar/Jack Cheese: (15)

Cheddar cheese [pasteurized milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes, annatto (color)], Monterey Jack cheese (pasteurized milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes), potato
starch and corn starch and powdered cellulose (prevent caking), dextrose, enzymes, natamycin (natural mold inhibitor).

Spring Mix:

May contain some or all of the following Baby Whole Leaf Varieties: Baby Green Romaine, Baby Red Romaine, Baby Red Leaf, Baby Green Leaf, Baby Red Swiss
Chard, Baby Red Oak, Baby Green Oak, Lolla Rosa, Tango, Tatsoi, Arugula, Mizuna, Frisee, Radicchio.

Buttermilk Ranch Sauce: (37)

Soybean Oil, Cultured Buttermilk, Water, Sour Cream (Milk, Cream, Modified Food Starch, Guar Gum, Sodium Phosphates, Carob Bean Gum, Sodium Citrate,
Calcium Sulfate, Carrageenan, Dextrose, Potassium Sorbate, Enzymes), Egg Yolks, Contains 2% or Less: Distilled Vinegar, Maltodextrin, Salt, Dextrose, Modified
Food Starch, Soy Sauce (Soybeans, Wheat, Salt), Dried Onion, Garlic Powder, Lactic Acid, Natural Flavor (Vegetable Source), Shallots, Preservatives (Sodium
Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Calcium Disodium EDTA), Xanthan Gum, Spice, Phosphoric Acid, Sodium Acid Sulfate, Propylene Glycol Alginate, Autolyzed Yeast Extract.

Seasoned Rice Vinegar: (12)

Rice Vinegar, Water, Sugar, Soybean Oil, Brown Sugar, Salt, Xanthan Gum, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Soy Sauce (Soybeans, Wheat, Salt), Maltodextrin.

All told – 121 ingredients, including trans fats, chemicals on the FDA’s toxicity watchlist, and more.

Also: this division of the ingredient list is problematic for people with allergies because they may read the short ingredient list and deduce a green light when in fact a dangerous allergen is present.

Bottom line: We’re not too sure this is a better choice than a Big Mac. Health seekers beware. Thanks McDonald’s, for treating us like ignorant fools while peddling us healthy choices…

  • McKel | Nutrition Stripped

    McCrap is correct! Another way fast food establishments are trying to promote “healthier options” while simultaneously misleading the public. These ingredients are ridiculous. I’ll stick with the ones I can pronounce ;)

  • lauren


  • Pingback: What about the other 112 ingredients? Fooducate does some sleuthing on the new McDonalds McWraps | Sustaining Starter

  • Mary Goodson

    Heck, I’d have highlighted LOTS more “problematic” ingredients than you did! How about “Enriched flour” – a.k.a. BLEACHED white flour? Soybean oil? (GMO), sulfites, sugar…. all disgusting “food like substances”.

    McDeath’s doesn’t sell “food”.

    • alphaomega08

      I’d also add the canola oil (likely GMO) to the problem list.

  • Max_Freedom

    The spring mix shouldn’t be included in the list of “highly processed foodlike substances.” That is misleading.

    • Fooducate

      It’s not counted.

      • Max_Freedom

        “6 of the 9 ingredients above are actually highly processed foodlike substances.”

        You underlined spring mix as one of the six, and then give us the breakdown of it.

        You are trying to scare us with the contents of spring mix.

        • Fooducate

          Thanks for pointing that out.
          We stand corrected.
          Only FIVE of the nine should scare us, not six.

          • Max_Freedom

            Thanks. Good article. I wouldn’t eat that junk anyway!

  • James Cooper

    This is indeed not that great a food choice. But what exactly is the problem with yeast extract? Surely you don’t still think there is any evidence that MSG is a problem? There is no evidence that people actually have allergies to it, and it commonly occurs in foods such as cheeses, tomatoes, broccoli and soy sauce and no one ever reports any reactions to them.

  • Carol H.

    McD could save some $ and use fewer ingredients by using dark meat chicken rather than adding fat-containing ingredients (oil, chicken fat, etc.) to light meat. In addition to more flavor and moisture/fat, dark meat also has more iron and zinc. And as long as the skin is removed, the saturated fat is not that high (2 g per 100 g). Apparently the unfounded bias towards breast meat is still alive and clucking.

    • Jill Handy

      Most people I know prefer the taste of white meat to dark meat. Dark meat may have more “flavor”, but the flavor of white meat tastes better to me. And with fast food, it’s all about what tastes better and convenience and price. Not health. Believe me, if most people preferred the taste of dark meat, fast food joints would use it more often. And anybody that thinks that McDonald’s would serve anything healthy, despite any of their ads, is foolish.

      • Carol H.

        Most people are eating white meat fatted up with oils (especially as prepared in restaurants) to make it taste more like dark meat, which is naturally more moist/tender/fatty, plus contains more minerals. Try plain breast/light meat with no fat or sodium added and you will see.

  • Jennifer Carlton

    I refuse to eat there!

  • Marshall

    Another great commentary – I love the McCrap bit too. What chaps my hide is “artificial flavor” or “natural flavor”, why do food companies have to hide their proprietary blends? It’s curious and concerning as a consumer.

  • Jensen_G

    How about McD’s salads? I always assumed they were a reasonably health choice if one chose grilled chicken.

  • karl_of_delaware

    who posts calories in bigger print than mcdoanlds? no one. the calorie designation is as big as the price. give them a break. they substitute apples for fries – give them another break. the sweet chili mcwrap is really filling, tasty, and has 360 calories. this, seems to me, is a remarkable product.

  • Mart

    I agree with everything you say. However, it tastes SO DAMN GOOD.