What’s in That Big Mac? MUCH More Than You Think

big mac

photo: hoodburger.wordpress.com

Time magazine has just run an article entitled What’s in That Big Mac? More Than You Think. The title was a lead in to a discussion of calories of fast food meals. Most people, when asked, underestimate the calorie count of a big mac combo meal by up to 20%. A consistent undershoot of caloric values can obviously lead to weight gain.

That’s why the simple public health policy of calorie labeling on items at fast food establishments, to be implemented early next year, seems to make sense. However, as readers of this blog know, not all calories are created equally. Eating junk food that is high in calories poses risks greater than simple weight gain. the nutrient devoid food, often laced with dangerous preservatives could lead to other health implications.

Did you know that with every bite of a Big Mac, you are chewing on a highly processed formulation of:

100% pure USDA inspected beef, no fillers, no extenders, Prepared with grill seasoning (salt, black pepper),Enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water, high fructose corn syrup and/or sugar, soybean oil and/or canola oil, contains 2% or less of the following: salt, calcium sulfate, calcium carbonate, wheat gluten, ammonium sulfate, ammonium chloride, dough conditioners (may contain one or more of the following: sodium stearoyl lactylate, datem, ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide, mono- and diglycerides, ethoxylated monoglycerides, monocalcium phosphate, enzymes, guar gum, calcium peroxide), calcium propionate and/or sodium propionate (preservatives), soy lecithin, sesame seed,Milk, water, milkfat, cheese culture, sodium citrate, salt, citric acid, sorbic acid (preservative), sodium phosphate, color added, lactic acid, acetic acid, enzymes, soy lecithin (added for slice separation),Soybean oil, pickle relish [diced pickles, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, vinegar, corn syrup, salt, calcium chloride, xanthan gum, potassium sorbate (preservative), spice extractives, polysorbate 80], distilled vinegar, water, egg yolks, high fructose corn syrup, onion powder, mustard seed, salt, spices, propylene glycol alginate, sodium benzoate (preservative), mustard bran, sugar, garlic powder, vegetable protein (hydrolyzed corn, soy and wheat), caramel color, extractives of paprika, soy lecithin, turmeric (color), calcium disodium EDTA (protect flavor),lettuce,Cucumbers, water, distilled vinegar, salt, calcium chloride, alum, potassium sorbate (preservative), natural flavors (plant source), polysorbate 80, extractives of turmeric (color),Chopped onions,…

That’s over 80 ingredients, some of which we’d like to highlight:

  • Azodicarbonamide is a popular dough conditioner. It also bleaches the flour (makes it whiter). It’s considered safe in the US at up to 45 parts per million, but is banned from use in Europe because studies showed it could cause asthma or allergic reactions.
  • Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) is used as a preservative to retain color. It may irritate the skin or cause skin rash and even asthma. It is on FDA’s list of food additives to be studied for toxicity.
  • Industrial caramel coloring is made by reacting sugars with ammonia and sulfites under high pressure and temperatures. The chemical reactions create 4-methylimidazole, which in government-conducted studies caused lung, liver, or thyroid cancer or leukemia in laboratory mice or rats. This is why California recently required foods containing caramel color to be labeled as potential cancer-causing agents.
  • Sodium benzoate / benzoic acid are used to prevent the growth of microorganisms in acidic foods. When consumed in conjunction with beverages with ascorbic acid (vitamin C), a chemical reaction creates small amount of benzene, a carcinogen.

We could go on about the MSG-like additives, glycerides, and high fructose corn syrup, but we think you get the picture.

A few more “fun facts”, beyond the 540 calories (before fries and soft drink):

  • 10 grams of saturated fat – which is 50% of the daily maximum allowance
  • 1.5 grams of trans-fat – Nutrition experts recommend a daily allowance of zero
  • 1040 mg of sodium – close to half of the daily maximum

So, What’s in That Big Mac that you need? MUCH LESS Than You Think

  • Dancing Monkey

    I’d like to know why Big Macs have 3 g of fiber. What could it be? The iceberg? the sesame seeds on the bun?

    • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

      The bun is probably 1 gram. Maybe the lettuce and onion add some more?

      • Carol H

        yes, that’s it

  • Melissa

    I knew it was, but not that bad. That’s a lot of ingredients, that who
    knows what role they will play in your body down the line.

    Love the “appetizing” picture you posted too. Great contrast to the airbrushed foam they use in their commercials :)

  • Nancy

    Great article. I especially like when the artificial ingredients are broken down and explained. Although I don’t eat at McDonald’s, I still like to know what lurking out there. :)

  • The Candid RD

    But it just tastes so GOOOOOD. haha, jk. I can’t even remember the last time I had a Big Mac, or even ate at McDonalds (other than to get their soft serve…). Gross. I wouldn’t eat one of these if it was free.

  • Melody Byblow

    Thanks for posting this. Let’s not forget the GMO ingredients: canola oil, soybean oil, high fructose corn syrup, and non-organic dairy.

  • Ronald mcdonald

    Doesn’t matter what you say is in it, I will still have one once in awhile because it tastes good and reminds me of my childhood. Go eat your vegetables!!!

  • Carol H

    The trans fat is naturally-occurring from meat and cheese — it isn’t artificial trans fat (from partially hydrogenated oils/fats). Many states now ban the use of artificial trans fats in restaurant and school foods.

    • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

      1.5 grams seems to much to be just naturally occurring..

      • Carol H

        Not for a large chunk of meat or cheese. Most restaurants leave it out of the data, because it is generally not required (because only artificial trans fat is considered a health risk).

  • Mirinda @MakeMyPlate

    wow! was a little nervous to read this as it worries me how many people are still eating this stuff – this is not even food lets hope much more awareness and change is coming in the future!!!

  • Sarah Bradford

    The way, I look at that Big mac, is If I wouldn’t eat over 85 ingredients and fill confident about its nutritional value. Then I won’t pass the word to others to eat it.