September 26, 2008

You Ask, I Answer: McDonald's

While I do not refute that McDonald's is not very appealing to me, do you think this article written by a "nutritional consult" has any value?

-- Kate Redfern
Alberta, Canada

The article Kate refers to is written by a "wellness educator" and nutrition consultant who argues that "[a] McDonald's [hamburger] fills an empty space in your belly. It does nothing to nourish the cell, it is not a nutritious food."

The author comes to this conclusion after pointing out that a hamburger she purchased at the Golden Arches 12 years ago and has since kept at her home has not decayed one bit and looks exactly like one someone ordered 5 minutes ago.

And the point of that would be...?

While that demonstrates that this hamburger contains plenty of preservatives, it does not negate its nutritional profile (which I will explain a few paragraphs later.)

One particularly confusing part of her argument is that "a [McDonald's] hamburger [in the United States] tastes exactly the same in China or some around the world place."

To that I say, "so what?"

After all, when you go to your favorite restaurant, you expect the dish you had 2 weeks ago to taste the exact same, don't you?

The fact that the taste is always identical does not mean said dish -- say, lentil soup -- is void of nutrition.

Standardized recipes and formulas are common practices in the restaurant business. They are there to ensure customer loyalty, not as some nutritional conspiracy.

While I do not disagree with the thought that McDonald's food is heavily processed, this notion that one of their hamburgers "does not nourish" is completely inaccurate (by the way, I'm still trying to figure out what the author means when she specifically mentions "cell nourishment.")

The plain and simple fact is that a McDonald's beef patty contains iron, protein, B vitamins, and a little vitamin A. The bun, meanwhile, offers iron, folate, niacin, thiamin, and riboflavin.

Is the hamburger high in sodium? Absolutely. Devoid of fiber? Yes -- but that's the case with ANY hamburger, not just a McDonald's one.

In short, these sorts of "articles" irritate me to no end because they aren't written within a framework of nutrition science (and by that I mean basic food composition; knowing what nutrients are in what foods.)

This is simply fear-mongering meant to titillate and shock, rather than educate.

Eating a McDonald's hamburger once a month, for example, will not kill anyone. The patty will not sit in your colon for 12 years. It will provide protein, iron, and B vitamins to your diet.

Would I recommend someone seek out food at McDonald's? No. But I am also not going to sit on some self-made ivory tower and condemn anyone who occasionally enjoys one of their plain hamburgers.

Besides, I have a hard time believing the hamburger shown at the link has been stored at room temperature for 12 years without a trace of mold -- not even on the bun!

As far as I'm concerned, it's the article at the link that's lacking substance.


Mandy said...

OMG the author of that article is a moron! How can meat and bread not have nutritional value? She bases this 'belief' of hers on the fact that the burger dried up rather than rot? PRESERVATIVES. The very fact that someone can think that meat and bread has no nutritonal value, is just ludicrous. And yes, I agree with you on the comment regarding the burger being 'cloned' - um, hello? That's what restaurants do - use the same recipes at all locations. AS THEY SHOULD.

My goodness - the very fact that drivel like that can be published or even posted is sickening. Do people actually believe that crap?

yes it got me ranty :) I agree with you wholeheartedly!

Kristin said...

This woman is full of it. The burgers DO decay. If you don't want to try your own experiment, watch the little segment at the end of Morgan Spurlock's documentary "Super Size Me". It's available on YouTube here:

Aside from that, I'm pretty sure that the recipe they use to make their burgers has changed since 1996. Even if she was making real statements about the nutrition of a McDonald's hamburger, I don't think it's relevant for her use as an example a hamburger you could buy at McDonald's 12 years ago, because you probably cannot buy the same hamburger today.