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Thursday, September 29, 2011
McDonald's and Gluten
To this day, my post "McDonald's Fries are NOT gluten-free" still gets the most traffic. I know that restaurants update their ingredients from time to time, so I thought I would revisit this topic. Guess what?? McDonald's fries are still NOT gluten-free.

Please note: All information in this blog posting is for McDonald's in the United States only. From the comments and tweets I am getting, it looks like McDonald's around the world have VERY different ingredients. Beware!

Here are a few other menu items that might surprise as having gluten. You can find all of this information and the complete list of ingredients for all products on the McDonald's website.

French Fries: Potatoes, vegetable oil (canola oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, natural beef flavor [wheat and milk derivatives]*), citric acid (preservative), dextrose, sodium acid pyrophosphate (maintain color), salt. Prepared in vegetable oil ((may contain one of the following: Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness), dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent).
*CONTAINS: WHEAT AND MILK (Natural beef flavor contains hydrolyzed wheat and hydrolyzed milk as starting ingredients).

Hash Brown: Potatoes, vegetable oil (canola oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, natural beef flavor [wheat and milk derivatives]*, citric acid [preservative]), salt, corn flour, dehydrated
potato, dextrose, sodium acid pyrophosphate (maintain color), extractives of black pepper. 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.
*CONTAINS: WHEAT AND MILK. (Natural beef flavor contains hydrolyzed wheat and hydrolyzed milk as starting ingredients).

Big Mac® Sauce: 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).

New Premium Ranch Sauce: Soybean oil, buttermilk, water, sour cream (milk, cream, food starch-modified, guar gum, sodium phosphate, carob bean gum, sodium citrate, carrageenan, dextrose, potassium sorbate), egg yolks, distilled vinegar, maltodextrin, salt, dextrose, food starch-modified, 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.

Snack Size Fruit & Walnut Salad: Apple Slices and Red Grapes [apples, red grapes, calcium ascorbate (a blend of calcium and vitamin C added to maintain natural freshness and color)].

Candied Walnuts: walnuts (TBHQ and BHT added as preservatives), sugar, peanut oil, dry honey, salt, wheat starch, maltodextrin, xanthan gum, soy lecithin, natural
(plant source) and artificial flavor.

Sweet 'N Sour Sauce: High fructose corn syrup, water, apricot puree concentrate, peach puree concentrate, distilled vinegar, soy sauce (water, wheat, soybeans, salt), salt, food starchmodified, dextrose, soybean oil, xanthan gum, spices, sodium benzoate (preservative), natural flavors (fruit, vegetable and plant source), garlic powder, cellulose
gum, dried chili peppers, malic acid, onion powder, caramel color, extractives of paprika, succinic acid.

Newman's Own® Low Fat Sesame Ginger Dressing: Water, soy sauce (soybeans, wheat, salt), sugar, corn syrup solids, distilled vinegar, soybean oil, freeze dried orange juice concentrate, roasted sesame seed oil, corn starch, guajillo pepper, ginger, dehydrated onion, corn vinegar, dehydrated garlic, dehydrated bell pepper, brown sugar, garlic, salt, parsley, xanthan gum, apple cider vinegar, spices, citric acid, sea salt, caramel color, maltodextrin.

Newman's Own® Low Fat Family Recipe Italian Dressing: Water, corn syrup solids, distilled vinegar, Romano cheese (pasteurized milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes), soybean oil, sea salt, sugar, worcestershire sauce [distilled vinegar, molasses, corn syrup, water, salt, caramel color, garlic powder, sugar, spices, tamarind, natural flavor (fruit source)], anchovy paste (cured anchovies, salt, water), dried onion, dried garlic, spices, xanthan gum, barley malt extract (contains barley gluten), citric acid, paprika (color), hydrolyzed soy protein.

Tangy Barbeque Sauce: High fructose corn syrup, water, tomato paste, grape vinegar, distilled vinegar, salt, soy sauce (water, wheat, soybeans, salt), food starch-modified, spices, dextrose, soybean oil, natural smoke flavor (plant source), xanthan gum, caramel color, garlic powder, cellulose gum, dried chili peppers, malic acid, natural flavor (fruit and
vegetable source), onion powder, sodium benzoate (preservative), succinic acid.

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Blogger Gluten Free Doll said...

That is such a shame. Both the French Fries and Hashbrowns are GF in Canada. I wonder they don't make the switch to the Canadian version.
Although not the healthiest choice, I'm happy it's an option.

Blogger TravGlutenFree said...

What is more frustrating is the fact that their menu varies so much around the world. Here in the UK the fries are GF which obviously led to issues when we visited the US and wrongly assumed they would be there as well. Add in that in some countries like Spain and Norway for example you can even get GF bread, they are quite a confusing company!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

McDonald's fries ARE GLUTEN FREE and nothing has changed. Read this. You should stop posting false information.

Blogger Unknown said...

To the last anonymous comment, the information I posted today is from the McDonald's website in 2011 which clearly states that the french fries have an ingredient that is derived from wheat.

"natural beef flavor [wheat and milk derivatives]*)"

Whether or not the "FLAVORING Agent added to the par-fry oil included a wheat and dairy source, which the par-fry company states does not contain proteins (therefore cannot be allergenic)", as a Celiac I do not make it a habit of ingesting food that is derived from wheat.

McDonald’s as a company does not state that their fries are gluten-free. Therefore, I would assume that they are not gluten-free.

You can see even more comments here:

Blogger Shauna said...

In response to anon: I know that the hydrolyzed wheat which McDonald's fries have is allowed in GF foods in the UK. But I've also read one of the main studies that say it is 'safe,' and all the participants who didn't react were those who were eating a <200 ppm diet and not getting sick off of THAT. Considering that the UK is lowering its standard to <20 ppm because they don't think that 200 ppm is safe enough, I'm not trusting the hydrolyzed wheat, either.

Blogger Jen said...

I love when people post snarky comments as "anonymous" ;-) Thanks for posting this, I can't believe their sweet and sour sauce is not GF!!! Not to mention all the other things that are surprising. Shouldn't be eating at McD's anyway so I guess this isn't a bad thing :)

Blogger Unknown said...

Ha! Jen... I thought the same thing about the anonymous post. I agree we shouldn't be eating McDonald's anyway, but I really wanted people to be aware and to be care. If Anon wants to eat fries, that is fine. Not me!

Blogger Jen said...

Oh yeah totally, I didn't mean that people in general shouldn't be. Just me!! If you're stuck and have to grab something, it's nice to know what the options are. :)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, now, this is interesting.

The McDonalds USA allergen list for its french fries CLEARLY states "CONTAINS: WHEAT", because the beef flavour "starts from hydrolyzed wheat..."

That seems pretty straightforward, right? Well, maybe not so much. Here's an article from January this year:

which seems to indicate that hydrolyzed wheat flour MAY BE SAFE for celiacs. In the scientific study, celiacs were able to tolerate baked goods made with fully hydrolyzed wheat flour (the hydrolyzing process reduces the concentration of gluten, apparently).

Now, if celiacs might tolerate baked goods that are made PRIMARILY from fully hydrolyzed wheat flour, one wonders whether McDonalds french fries, which contain only a small component of beef flavour, which ITSELF is only DERIVED from hydrolyzed wheat, might be safe.

I don't know what the answer is. I suspect as always that it's a personal decision. And of course this ignores the ever-present cross-contamination risks inherent in a fast food restaurant. But it's enough to make me change my answer from "no way" to "possibly...let's get some more info."

Anonymous Anonymous said...

but why is MCD's USA EVEN using "hydrolyzed wheat" in fries ANYHOW???? IT'S F****ING BS. Just fry the straight potatoes in NON-Hydrogenated/bad oils...PERIOD.
Sooo glad I found this info. Thanks for sharing/posting everyone! UNBELIEVABLE all the awful, inflammatory BS flavorings/preservatives/additives hidden in our US food supply.

Blogger Unknown said...

Gluten free at McDonald is ideal for eating for Celiacs and for people who want to be Gluten free. McDonalds is proud to offer countless options on their menus to ensure Celiacs and people with Gluten sensitivity could have a place to eat. gluten free McDonalds

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