Monday, 1 September 2014

Mc Donalds, Im Not Lov'n It

I’ve never been a fan of Mc D’s. In my university days, myself & a friend popped in to the O’Connell Street branch in Dublin. A quick pit stop to line our stomachs as cheaply as possible, preferring to use our pennies to swell the student union bar coffers instead. My friend, a vegetarian had not been before. She asked for a veggie burger and got a guerkin in a bun. That was McDonalds take on vegetarian at the time.

Ever since seeing the Mc Libel documentary, wherein two Greepeace activists took on the fast food behemoth and won, I vowed that I would never again cross the threshold of an edifice with a giant yellow M. A pledge I have kept, apart from 2 occasions, both of which were driven by necessity rather than choice. The last time was a few days ago. The mitigating circumstances were as follows:

1) It was late at night and we had to catch the Chunnel (Calais to Folkestone) early the next morning
2) My 6 year old had been forced to forego food in order to make it to the port on time & was starting to eat the upholstery of the hired campervan
3) It was a choice of loading up with wine in the supermarket or feeding said child. Fortunately, we spotted a Mc D’s while we were loading up the vino
4) It was either Mc D’s or a day old baguette & everyone knows Baguettes have to be eaten fresh. It would breach cultural protocol & international incidents have been born of far less effrontery.

I ordered the Mc Fillet and small fries. I couldn’t taste the fries for all the salt they were smothered in. My request to exchange the fries for some without salt caused a near diplomatic episode. “Did you ask for them without salt?” said the “crew member” as though she was prosecuting me for murder. “No, I retorted, but I didn’t order my fries with salt either”. If I didn’t ask for salt, why did you add it without asking me”? “If I’d wanted salt with a sprinkling of fries, that’s what I would have ordered (I said this last bit in my head as my French wasn’t up to that level of complexity)”.

The discussion ensued with Mc D’s rep arguing that all Mc D’s fries are served with lashings of salt so what did I expect. I pointed out that I’m not one of their regulars (evidenced by the fact that my waistline is still discernible) & asked if it didn’t occur to them that some customers, given a choice, would prefer not to ingest their weekly sodium allowance in just one portion of fries? Either she couldn’t think of a clever retort or she just gave up the will to live, but I got my sodium free fries.

Having done some research on Mc D’s nutritional components I came across numerous reports citing a document apparently published by Mc Donald’s last year. It set out the ingredients that go into their fries. All 17 of them. One website elaborated on what some of those ingredients actually comprise of. They range from hydrogenated soybean oil which they claim is largely extracted from genetically modified soybeans to dimethypolysiloxane, an anti foaming agent, which appears to be an industrial chemical and allegedly carries a host of safety concerns and TBHQ, which is cited as a petroleum based butane like ingredient (lighter fuel), which is allegedly used as a preservative. The list, including alleged hormone disrupters, goes on.

Next time you want to order some fries in Mc D’s you might want to take the list & ask them to hold all but 1 of the 17 ingredients. The potato.

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