McDonald's found itself in the fryer recently after two disclosures about its famous French fries. In early February, the company announced that its fries contain one-third more trans fats than thought. But the stunner came five days later with the news that they also contain dairy and gluten, a wheat product. McDonald's previously claimed its fries were dairy and gluten free.
The news has alarmed many people with food allergies or sensitivities such celiac disease. Not surprisingly, a series of lawsuits related to the "new" ingredients have popped up across the country.
This blow to the fast-food giant's credibility comes just as it readies to launch voluntary nutrition labeling on its products, the first in the industry to do so. The company says it found the added trans fats after adopting new testing methods. It now has researchers at the University of Nebraska testing the gluten levels of the fries.
McDonald's has said that it plans to lower the trans fat in its fries, in response to government-issued dietary guidelines advising Americans to eat as little trans fats as possible. Researchers have linked trans fats to coronary heart disease, the No. 1 cause of death in the United States.
Personally, I will admit to having a 30-pound stash of Happy Meal toys in the closet, something those who knew me "before kids" would be shocked to learn. With all the saturated fat and sugar, not to mention the possibility of carcinogens, I knew it wasn't a healthy choice. But now, I can't help wondering what other mystery ingredients lurk in fast food. What else doesn't the industry have to report?
How much faith do you have that corporations like McDonald's have your children's good health in mind? Do revelations like this one influence where (and how often) you take your kids to eat? If you choose not to buy fast food, how do you cope when it seems the only path to dinner is past the local drive-thru window?
Kris is a thirtysomething stay-at-home mom who lives north of Boston with her family.