McDonald’s announced it is removing all artificial additives in its seven classic burgers. This means they will no longer have any artificial flavors, artificial preservatives or added colors from artificial sources. The company is changing the beef patties, buns, cheese and Big Mac Special Sauce to make them healthier.
FILE- In this file photo, a McDonald's Quarter Pounder, left, and Double Quarter Pound burger is shown with fresh beef in Atlanta. Following years of reformulating at McDonald's, most of the burgers it serves in the U.S. are now preservative-free. The chain says classics like the Big Mac and Quarter Pounder with Cheese are preservative-free, with reformulated buns and sauces. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart, File)
The buns will no longer have the artificial preservative calcium propionate. In general, calcium propionate helps prevent mold growth on bread and is considered antifungal. McDonald’s may be getting rid of it because previous research found that this preservative could negatively affect children’s behavior. The study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics and Child Health, showed that calcium propionate might cause “irritability, restlessness, inattention and sleep disturbance in some children.” In addition, removing the preservative could reverse these behavioral problems.
McDonald’s is also getting rid of sorbic acid, which was an artificial preservative in its cheese that prevented mold. Studies on rats, mice and dogs showed that this preservative was “practically nontoxic” and not carcinogenic. However, the National Library of Medicine HSDB Database reveals that some people can have allergic reactions to the sorbic acid used in cosmetics.
The Big Mac Special Sauce is losing several preservatives: potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate and calcium disodium EDTA. Potassium sorbate is made from sorbic acid and potassium hydroxide, and it also inhibits mold growth. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) considers 3 mg of potassium sorbate per kg of body weight safe per day. However, there are questions about this chemical causing developmental and reproductive problems.
Sodium benzoate can prevent the growth of fungi and bacteria on foods. Nevertheless, when sodium benzoate combines with ascorbic acid (vitamin C), it can create benzene, which can cause cancer. Calcium disodium EDTA can prevent foods from going rancid, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) limits the amount that can be used.
Chris Kempczinski, McDonald’s USA President, explains, “We know quality choices are important to our customers. From switching to 100% fresh beef in our quarter-pound burgers, cooked right when ordered in a majority of our restaurants, to removing artificial preservatives in our Chicken McNuggets®, we’ve made significant strides in evolving the quality of our food – and this latest positive change to our classic burgers is an exciting part of that story.”
McDonald’s changes will affect the hamburger, cheeseburger, double cheeseburger, McDouble®, Quarter Pounder® with Cheese, Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese, and the Big Mac®. The fast-food company categorizes them as its seven classic burgers.
Although the burgers are getting an overhaul, the pickles still have an artificial preservative, which will not be removed. On Twitter, McDonald’s official account shared, “We’re excited to announce our classic burgers have no artificial preservatives, no artificial flavors and no added colors from artificial sources! Our pickle contains an artificial preservative, so skip it if you like. Changes you can feel good about!”
McDonald’s hopes these changes will attract more customers who care about not having any artificial additives in their food. Its modifications to the menu mimic the industry’s movement toward healthier ingredients in fast food.