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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.

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.”

That isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  My local juice bar has standardized recipes for their juices and smoothies (ie: 1 cup of almond milk + 1/2 cup frozen bananas + 1 TBSP almond butter, etc); that is part of a good business model.  I know that when I go to buy my green juice, it will taste a certain way.

Standardized recipes and formulas are common practices in the restaurant business. They are there to ensure customer loyalty.  Sure, in some cases it means that 50 artificial ingredients are mixed together in a laboratory to make crop subsidy byproducts taste like real food; but in other cases, it’s simply a good business practice.

While I do not disagree with the idea that McDonald’s food is heavily processed and not healthy, this notion that one of their hamburgers “do not nourish” is 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.

And, yes, the sourcing of ingredients is questionable, and one can rightfully assume that a good percentage of the ingredients are genetically modified.  I am by no means saying McDonald’s is “healthy” and no different than an organic grass-fed beef patty in a whole-grain, organic bun.

What I do object to, though, are articles that make it seem as if a McDonald’s hamburger will sit in your colon for 12 years, or that it offers zero nutrients.  There is plenty to object to about McDonald’s; no need to resort to so much hyperbole.



  1. Mandy said on September 26th, 2008

    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!

  2. Kristin said on September 26th, 2008

    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.

  3. Adrienne Dellwo said on February 8th, 2010

    Thank you so much for pointing this out! It drives me nuts, too. I can see talking about how candy or soda have no nutritional value, but a hamburger?

    As for keeping one for 12 years, that’s just ridiculous. I’ve dug those things out of the back of my fridge after a week or two and they look disgusting.

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