Foods to Eat   > Beef in Big Mac French Fries
  * News Bureau * Maryland * March 9, 2001

An irate Indian consumer in the US has discovered that McDonald's uses beef in its French Fries.


Sanjeev Dahiwadkar, who lives in Columbia, Maryland, was horrified to discover in a book review that the flavoring of McDonald's French Fries comes from a flavor extracted from animals. That discovery angered Dahiwadkar because he is a vegetarian and very particular about what he eats -- especially when it comes to food which is described as vegetarian.


As Fast Food Nation, written by investigative journalist Eric Schlosser, points out, McDonald's originally used beef tallow to fry its French Fries.


But after switching to vegetable oil in 1990, it began using a natural flavor that, on the record, comes from an "animal product".


However, in its declaration of ingredients, McDonald's does not say that any animal extracts are used in its French Fries. Worried after reading this, Dahiwadkar shot off e-Mail to McDonald's asking the company to comment on the revelation.


The reply he received shocked him.


It said, "….for flavor enhancement, McDonald's french fry suppliers use a minuscule amount of beef flavoring as an ingredient in the raw product…"


The reply -- carrying the reference no. 665483 -- signed by a member of the company's Home Office Customer Satisfaction Department went on to explain that "…beef is not listed as an ingredient because McDonald's voluntarily (restaurants are not required to list ingredients) follows the "Code of Federal Regulations" (required for packaged goods) for labeling its products. "As such, like food labels you would read on packaged goods... the ingredients in "natural flavors" are not broken down," it said. "Again, we are sorry if this has caused any confusion," the reply concluded.


The official list of ingredients of McDonald's French Fries lists, "potatoes, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, natural flavor, dextrose, sodium acid pyrophosphate (to preserve natural color)." They are "cooked in partially hydrogenated soybean and corn oils, TBHQ (to protect flavor)" it adds.


The realization that he has been consuming beef in some fashion, simply because the ingredients did not list them, has angered and shocked Dahiwadkar.


While Schlosser's book is a savage indictment of many aspects of McDonald's functioning, Dahiwadkar is worried about the fact that thousands of Indians in the US may have consumed something they didn't want to simply because the truth wasn't told on the list of ingredients.


"They think that they are having just a potato chip and they eat it on even at the day of holy fasting," they said.


Actually, the revelation that McDonald's uses beef in its French Fries is not a new one, although Schlosser's book, published in January this year, has drawn attention to the fact.


A January/February 1998 issue of The Vegetarian Journal, for instance, says: "McDonald's informed us on telephone that the natural flavor in their French fries is a "beef product." At that time, they declined to send us this information in writing. In July 1997, McDonald's sent us a fax stating that "the natural flavor used in French Fries is from an animal source," it added.


McDonald's claims it does not use beef at all in the food served at the restaurants in India.


(Would you trust their claim? I won't. They deliberately lied, insulted our religious feelings, and then called us 'confused!' -- Editor)