McDonalds is healthy!

This started off as an incensed status update but the longer I watched this ‘documentary’ McDonald’s Gets Grilled, the more furious I became. The main reason I am so infuriated is that the average Joe, eating what they think is healthy by ‘Australian Standards’, will realise that McDonalds is not so bad after all… This video is so obviously biased and set-up and I would not be surprised if McDonalds itself sponsored this, it’s more like an advert than an ‘investigation’. Just when people were starting to see the light as far as their personal nutrition goes, with movies like Food Inc, Food Matters and Hungry For Change widely viewed worldwide, now this. A cheap shot at redeeming the tarnished reputation of junk foods pilot light. The chairman of the crappy food’s board, dum dum dum, McDonalds! Be warned, what you are about to read is dripping with sarcasm…

6 ‘Ordinary Aussies’ pair up go behind the scenes to investigate them: from the farms that originally produce their meat, to independent food analysis, to them observing behind the scenes at actual Maccas stores. The participants are portrayed as sceptical, as if they’re going in guns blazing with lots of hard questions to ask. As you watch you discover that half of them are die-hard Maccas customers already and though the other 3 are not quite as devoted, only 1 of them is vehemently against it in the first place:

“We’re not in this game to make friends, we’re in it to find the objective truth”…

There’s a scene where a pair are at a beef farm in Esk, Qld who supply “to meat racks (?), it goes to 5 star restaurants or McDonalds – that’s up the market.” It shows lush grass, roaming cows amongst family operated fun and laughter whilst rounding up the cattle. What’s ironic to me is I’ve never heard anyone question the integrity of the farm that the meat comes from, or even the treatment of the animals (although the question of grain or grass-fed did not even come up!) and yet a big deal was made to paint the picture of a wholesome, country farm who supplies McDonalds. The reality is that the healthy cattle from this, undeniably beautifully run family farm, is sent to the abattoirs where big butcheries bid on it and then off it goes from there to wherever… including McDonalds who can then add whatever they want to it to make their burgers. So this idea that’s then imposed on the viewer – that the lovely farm which the animals may come from, somehow translates to the integrity of the final product is, in my opinion – vastly misleading! The farmers even defend their beef (and rightly so considering the association with McDonalds):

“Most people think that Maccas are just the offal or the cuts that people don’t pick up… People automatically presume that it’s rubbish but it’s not just not so”

Next we’re on a chicken farm on the central coast of NSW with 2 investigators including a new Mum who appears to knows more than the others, about food quality.  “The treatment of farm chickens is the most controversial topic in the food industry. Alan and Eleni are expecting the worst”. You see them opening up the barn door to a pitch black, tunnel-ventilated barn almost overflowing with chickens.  They’re not classified as free-range but barn-raised chickens and as such are running around in a blacked out barn.

“Why’s it so dark?”

“If you stay in here for a fair while your eyes get used to it, it’s fairly bright”

Evasion much? Compare this justification to Food Inc, where the farmer himself laments how his chickens, who are raised in the same manner as the ones in this show, never get to see the light of day. Doesn’t sound humane to me! Again, in contrast, Food Inc then shows the one and only farmer who would allow cameras into her barn-raised chickens barn – Carole’s boasts better conditions though with old school open windows with airflow and even she says:

“It is nasty in there, there’s dust flying everywhere, there’s faeces flying everywhere.  This isn’t farming, this is just mass production like an assembly line in a factory”. She even wears a mask inside her barn.

“When’s it dark inside the houses, chickens lay down, it’s less resistance when they’re being caught”

The Macca’s chickens grow to their processing weight within just 50 days

“So they put hormones in the food?”

It’s emphatically stated that hormones have been banned in the meat and food industry for 4 years. It’s also stated that no antibiotics have been given on that particular farm for over 10 years. That’s not to say it isn’t given on every other farm that McDonalds get their chicken from. It’s also not to say that the chicken’s food isn’t pumped full of antibiotics either! As Carole says

“When they grow from a chick and in 7 weeks you got a 5 1/2 pound chicken, their bones and their internal organs can’t keep up with the rapid growth. A lot of these chickens here can take a few steps and then they clock down because they can’t keep up with all the weight that they’re carrying.”

Pan to several disturbing clips of Carole dumping dozens of dead chickens bodies at a time into a mini-bulldozer as well as dead and dying chickens lying around the barn after the live ones have been cleared out to go to the processing plant.

“The feed is primarily made up of wheat and sorghum”

Did you know that chickens are naturally omnivorous? Leaves, petals, worms, bugs and small grains.

Next up is a potato farm in Mollongghip, Victoria – a beautiful farm nonetheless! This reveals that Maccas chips are in fact made from real potatoes, not mash or reconstituted product BUT after being cut they are put through a sugar ‘flume’ which “gives the strips a nice even exterior colour”. Later on the CEO of McDonald’s Australia comes out and says that it only ends up being 1g sugar overall. It’s not just the amount but what that sugar does to you. It’s well researched that sugar is addictive in nature because it is a highly refined and processed chemical carbohydrate called sucrose. It’s only coated on the chips for the same reason that there’s caffeine in Diet Coke – to make it addictive! Why do you think you can’t shovel those chips into your mouth fast enough? Or have any cognition by the end of it, of how many you’ve actually consumed?!

Back to the boys and their beef: “What cuts are these?”

“The shoulder, the neck and the rib region of the animal”

… By far the cheapest cuts of meat and indeed, the cuts that nobody wants – particularly in beef. I often use a lamb shoulder or necks to make a casserole in winter, but never the beef. Maybe that’s just me? But if I were making a beef patty at home, it’d be out of a decent cut of meat like rump or sirloin.

“Who set the standards for the quality of the meat?”


Skip a few steps and all of a sudden you see the patties… but you don’t get to see how they’re made! Pink slime anyone? The Maccas sceptic in this team is told that there are no preservatives in it and (for the 2nd time) it’s proclaimed to be 100% export quality. When asked why the fat’s at 24%, the Maccas lover is told “The fat percentage is set by McDonalds, that’s all about flavour profile” Never mind what KIND of fat is in there, most likely *assumption alert* grain-fed, therefore toxic animal fat. Organic and grass-fed animal’s fat is actually nutritious and research is showing that it’s not the baddie it was originally thought to be as far as heart disease and cholesterol go – a notion that I personally am completely onboard with! And not to mention the type of oil it will be cooked in – vegetable oil of some kind, which when heated becomes a transfat as these man-made oils and fats are extremely unstable at high temperatures, becoming a transfat and extremely carcinogenic.

The burger bun factory. Loved this, laughed out loud…

“What’s the difference between this bun as opposed to the burger buns that I buy at a supermarket? Is there more sugar in these buns?”

Seems it’s good news all round – they only have 1 percent more sugar than the highly refined, bleached white flour & 99% sucrose loaded supermarket burger buns. Yay! So it must be good for you then?! Or at least not as bad? What’s irresponible about this downplaying of the quality of the bun is that it makes people believe that it’s ‘not that bad’. In reality, it’s poison to your system! What really bothers me about this proud admission is how ‘surprised’ this self-confessed maccas addict is and how she reiterates as if by script that it’s ‘only 1% more!’ (My blood’s boiling at this point)

Let’s go see how they make their nuggets shall we? What cracks me up again is the sceptical act put on by the ‘investigators’ and how surprised they are at how natural everything is! *chuckle* Here’s the best part, what’s in their marinade (they really use this term extremely loosely here!) that coats all Macca’s chicken breasts?

“A blend of salts, phosphates, it also has some flavouring. It is all natural flavouring”

“When you say natural, what does that mean?” *hangs head in embarrassed laughter*

“It’s a…”

She interjects “Its come from a natural product is that right or?”

“I’ll get a…”

She interjects ” It’s been processed  but it’s natural?!” END SCENE, cut to next clip.

Nuggets are apparently made up of “around 80% chicken breast fillet, 15% skin, 4% water and we also put some salt and phosphates in there”. The tempura batter on the outside of the nugget is “just made up of wheat, corn, mineral salts and things but there’s definitely nothing artificial in that product”. Do I even need to comment? Other than the wheat and corn (don’t even get me started on GMO grains!), all of a sudden the salt in there is classed as mineral salts (I doubt they are using Himalayan or celtic salt!) and what are ‘things’? But on the upside they are ‘preservative free with no addition of any artificial colours.’

Bairnsdale Victoria and we’re on a lettuce farm. Another beautifully picturesque farm I have to say! Alarms bells start ringing straight up when you witness the lettuce getting washed in chlorine… chlorine! So much so that the water it’s washed in gets coloured dirty, green and becomes frothy and foamy. This is because “the sugars are being released as we wash it” But not to worry, our concerns are put to rest when the company boss happily takes a sip of this foamy, green water, as does the investigator, declaring it to taste just like sweet water. He also says that “by the time the process is finished there is no residual chlorine on the product” which he says they test for – comforting. Would you wash your vegetables in a chlorinated swimming pool?

On to Lismore, NSW to investigate their sundaes cos apparently they’re “full of pig fat” you must’ve heard that right? Their shakes are 11% sugar and their sundaes are “a bit higher which you’d expect the sundae product to be – a bit sweeter, it’s about 20%” admitting “it is a lot of sugar, that’s why it tastes good” leaving one investigator commenting “there’s nothing super artificial in there”… there’s nothing super about our heart disease and obesity rates in Western cultures around the world though either!

The longer I watch this, the more scripted the answers are: “When it comes to the burgers, what can you tell me about the nutritional value please?” Enter rehearsed answer… “well I think the first thing I’d say to you on that is that all our products now have a calorie count on all advertising so when you walk into the store and you see the pictures, every burger has its kilojoules. Consumers make their own decision about what they eat and how much they eat”

Now we follow 2 of the girls into a country Victoria McDonalds for a dinner date. Cue chirpy, upbeat piano music, beautiful lighting and a friendly manager who introduces them to the chip dispensers: Frankie Fry Dispenser and William, the chip frier. Njaaaw, how cute, warm and fuzzy! We see the actual lettuce – that they themselves cut fresh off the farm,  after it’s been washed, boxed and shipped to that particular Maccas store. The girls are so impressed by the fact that you could trace the lettuce on your burger back to the farm it came from as well as the fact that Maccas can now personalise your burger for you.

“I would rather have McDonalds than other junk food, I mean I like it anyway – it’s my junk food of choice but I’d be really surprised to find that your local fish and chippy or even a fancy restaurant would have as strict and clean condition as they have at McDonalds”

This coming from the initial sceptic – she’s suddenly declaring Maccas as her usual junk food of choice? I thought she was against it from the start. Things aren’t what they seem, it seems. Plus, way to focus on the positives like cleanliness and hygiene. I’m sure they have super strict standards in this area but that’s never been up for debate, has it?! The spotlight on McDonalds has nothing to do with how clean it’s kitchens are but everything to do the ingredients in their products. Not even  just the fat and sugar content, but the chemicals!

Just before meeting the CEO of McDonalds Australia., we meet the independent scientist who analysed samples of Maccas food products. He detected none of the 4 regular preservatives used in meat – what about the other preservatives around? that doesn’t mean there aren’t any in there, plus salt is a preservative, there’s probably enough in there to keep it fresh for weeks! He only found 9.2% fat in the Big Mac where McDonalds states it to have 13.4% (camera pans to suitably surprised and impressed looks among the investigators). The strawberry thickshake has less fat than full cream milk, but, I am certain none of the live, healthy enzymes found in raw milk, not to mention the high sugar content, which gets metabolised into fat the minute it hits your body when insulin is secreted to deal with it all. All he basically proved is that McDonalds weren’t lying on their nutrition panels (which I personally never doubted). If you’ve been following for a while you’ll know that I am not about the fat or calorie content – but only the quality of the ingredients!

Enter the CEO, Katrina. When asked why phosphates are in the chicken products, she responds: “It’s common in most products like that you know products you get from the supermarket… it’s in very small amounts, it’s all been tested and proved”… proved to do what? Tested for what? Next in front of the firing squad, those sugary fries… Again, they’re ‘keeping to the standards’

“In all chips in supermarkets, whether they’re oven baked or fried, all go through that process. It’s to give it an even colouring. In the finished product there’s less than 1g of sugar. It’s not to add flavour, you’re not eating added sugar, it really is just part of that process to give it that even colour which is what our customers expect”

How big is a finished product related to the 1g? I argue as I did before that it’s about making them addictive – whether no one wants to admit it or not! When asked about the burger buns she says “About 5 or 6 years who we took half (!) the sugar out the buns because of that very feedback” Gees, how much was in there in the first place”? Not one mention actually gets made of just how much sugar IS in the buns. It’s always given a positive spin like they’ve only got 1% more than supermarket buns or it’s already half of what it was 5 years ago. No one will reveal the actual sugar content!

Finally, when the ultimate Maccas sceptic is asked how he now views McDonalds in light of everything he’s seen, here’s his disturbing response “Having seen the quality of the ingredients, the export quality (there it is again!) beef all the way from the paddock to the pate, I no longer regard McDonalds as junk food” WHAT?! If Maccas isn’t junk food, what is? Has no one seen “Supersize Me“?

I’m not judging Macca’s customers, even I have been known to gorge myself on the odd McDonalds binge back in the day, it’s been a while though. A LONG while. I am judging the honesty and integrity of this show – happily highlighting the postives and sneakily  covering up the obvious-to-everyone-else negatives

8 Responses to “McDonalds is healthy!”
  1. Natural New Age Mum says:

    ugggh! I am as mad as you. Of course they can make it sound good, they have billions of dollars to spend on marketing! I have since heard that they DID sponser it. I really hope people aren’t sucked in to this. It feels like it will what some are looking for to justify their junk food addiction. 😦 😦 😦

  2. We watched the show and laughed. As if chlorine in the lettuce was the only issue with McDonalds! For McDonalds to do a show (advert) like this just reflects the fact that many many people are now aware of the mc toxic meals they have been eating and feeding their families with and McDonalds are in damage control! xx

  3. Venessa says:

    Do you remember the test that was done in SA with a patty from Macdonalds and a patty from Steers? each patty was placed in a container , lid firmly in place, and left for 2 weeks. After that, the lids were removed to reveal 1) macca’s patty was perfect still and 2) the Steers patty was covered in fur!!! I wonder why.

  4. Marike says:

    In a way I think its good that this docu was shown. People are becoming more educated about food_thanks to blogs like yours_and i really think most of them will be able to see past the “advertising” and realise that there is a lot more to a Bic Macc than Grade A beef and fresh lettuce. Obviously McD is realising this too which is maybe why this docu was made, in the hopes of still securing their die hard_die of a hart attack_fans?!
    Love your passion Jodes! x

  5. This is an EXCELLENT post Jodes! I was furious when watching this show last night. It was so obviously biased and the whole reason for it was to shine good light on Macca’s. I wonder if those people who were the ‘investigators’ went away from this experience thinking, “hey, Maccas is so healthy for you, I am going to feed it to my family and eat it 7 nights a week. It is just like a home cooked meal!”….I think not.

  6. claire says:

    was totally McDonalds funded and believed to be allowed by Channel 7 due to McDonalds sponsorship of “My Kitchen Rules” – see link

  7. Claire Fryer says:

    was totally McDonalds funded and believed to be allowed due to their sponsirship of hannel Sevens “My Kitchen Rules”. see link

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