The McDonald’s French Fry Fiasco

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Do you know what’s in your food? Well, if you ever eat at the popular fast-food chain McDonald’s, you might run into some confusion. It seems that contrary to previous claims, McDonald’s French fries could contain wheat and dairy products. . . or maybe not. The issue actually seems to be a bit murky at the moment.

 However unclear it is, this issue is extremely important to those people who suffer reactions from foods containing dairy or gluten. Let” take a closer look at these food sensitivities so you can have a greater understanding of what’s going on in the fast-food industry.

 There are two types of dairy sensitivities. People allergic to dairy have an immune system overreaction to milk proteins, like ‘casein.’ Lactose intolerance occurs when your body is unable to break down ‘lactose,’ a sugar found in dairy products, which leads to excess gas. Both of these sensitivities can bring on an array of painful and uncomfortable symptoms — and both are serious threats to your health.

 Gluten allergy, also known as ‘celiac disease,’ occurs when your immune system reacts to proteins in wheat and other grain products — gluten — as if they were foreign invaders. This can cause many unpleasant symptoms, mainly gastrointestinal concerns, and it is also believed by many to lead to more serious illnesses, such as cancer and arthritis.

 There’s no way to “cure” any of these sensitivities. The only real option available is avoidance of products containing dairy or gluten, which brings us back to McDonald’s French fries.

 Until recently, the fast-food giant claimed that these crispy treats contained no gluten or dairy and were thus safe to eat for consumers with those allergies. However, last month, McDonald’s updated its web site, stating that its French fries contain derivatives of wheat and dairy.

 Apparently, the company made this ingredient revision to conform to some new FDA regulations, which requires that the packaged foods industry report the presence of common allergens in their products. Note that McDonald’s is a restaurant operator, not a member of the packaged foods industry, so it was not legally required to meet these new standards. However, the savvy people behind the company might have had one major strategy in mind: to avoid lawsuits.

 Unfortunately for the company, this strategy seems to have backfired. After the French fries ingredient “amendment,” three lawsuits were launched by those seeking compensation for food sensitivity complications or misleading dietary information.

 In a confusing move, McDonald’s subsequently had an expert from the University of Nebraska test its fries for possible food allergens (you’d think it would have done this already). According to the company, its French fries were found to be gluten-free and allergen-free. It seems that the company is going back to its original claims, which conveniently nullify the lawsuits.

 A quick check of the McDonald’s web site reveals that the ingredient list for its fries still contains wheat and dairy. Conversely, the “Food Allergens and Sensitivities Listing” on the site lists the product as not having these two allergens. It seems like McDonald’s needs to make up its mind.

 This fast-food giant needs to stop clowning around when it comes to food sensitivities. An allergic reaction is no laughing matter. This whole ridiculous situation should serve as a wake-up call for people with food sensitivities or intolerance.

 It seems the only way you can be sure of what you’re putting in your mouth is to eat at home, using fresh, organic food items. Sorry to all the French fry lovers out there, but you might want to avoid the golden arches altogether until the company gets its act together.