Macca's French Fries are NOT failsafe


In the latest update to their menu ingredients list, last week McDonald's Australia presented two alternate sets of ingredients for their French Fries:

Potato, Canola Oil and Sunflower Oil, Dextrose, Mineral Salt (450), Antioxidant (320)


Potato, Canola Oil Blend, Antioxidant (320), Food Acid (330), Antifoam (900a), Dextrose

This is alarming, because last time I looked at their menu list, synthetic antioxidant BHA 320 wasn't included. I've even told people that Macca's fries may be failsafe. Well, they are definitely NOT now, even though Maccas questions section still says there is no synthetic antioxidant

So what's wrong with antioxidant 320? (also known as BHA, butylated hydroxyanisole)

Most people think antioxidants are good for you, and they are if they are natural antioxidants such as vitamin C and Vitamin E. But additives 310-312 and 319-321 are synthetic antioxidants that can cause a full range of nasty side effects, from itchy rashes, asthma and migraines to behaviour and learning problems in children, to depression. Another problem is that they are often hidden, either in unpackaged foods or unlisted under the 5% labelling loophole. See this story from a reader, and more below.

Chronic Tic Disorder due to antioxidant 319 or 320 in hot chips

My three boys have been avoiding a number of additives for many years now because of obvious affects on their behaviour and health. Last year my oldest son (then 8 years old) was diagnosed with Chronic Tic Disorder (one step before Tourettes Syndrome). He could not sit still, having tics in his face, neck, shoulders and arms. After a period of time, I realised that this behaviour coincided with an increase in eating hot chips. I stopped my son eating hot chips and THE TICS WENT AWAY. I have since tried him on hot chips and the same thing happens. The culprit ingredient/s here is the synthetic antioxidant 320 (and/or 319) that appears in most chips and oil used for deep frying, however manufacturers of frozen chips, and other products such as packet chips/crisps and dry biscuits do not need to list the additive on the label if the oil is less than 5% of the product. NOT GOOD ENOUGH! How can I help my son be tic free if we don't know when these nasty additives are in certain foods? –  from story 471

Of course, it could be worse.

In the US, McDonalds fries contain 19 ingredients, some of which are disguised MSG (beef flavour, hydrolysed wheat). See our blog 129 ways to add MSG and fool consumers.

Is there a way to eat fast food potatoes without nasty antioxidants? Rather than fries, consider baked jacket potatoes with healthy fillings. Better for the waistline too! 

Or you can cook your own frozen oven fry chips, quick and easy and also better for the waistline (but watch out for added annatto 160b in some brands including formerly failsafe Logan Farm guilt free).

Read more

Our factsheet: 320 BHA and other antioxidants

McDonald's French fries: ingredients revealed  website accessed 4/12/2015

McDonald's Australia menu website accessed 4 & 10/12/2015

Introduction to food intolerance factsheet

More reader stories

Asthma from hidden 320 in bread

When my daughter was about four, she required Ventolin whenever she ate bread and so she ended up wheat free. The only time she has had asthma since last year was during the antioxidant (BHA, 320) challenge. You were right about the wheat - it is no trouble whatsoever. We realise now that our daughter was wheat free unnecessarily for years - from story 1051

Depression and learning difficulties from 320

Six months ago our daughter developed severe behavioural problems, including depression, lack of motivation, poor sleeping habits, lethargy and loss of enthusiasm. These were very uncharacteristic of a hard-working fulltime student and a complete puzzle to her concerned teachers. As a consequence, her exam results declined, as did her study performance.

Her problems were eventually traced to her consumption of home-baked products containing Dairysoft, a butter-oil blend manufactured by one of Australia's largest companies, the Murray Goulburn Co-Operative Ltd.

Our daughter is known to be affected by antioxidants 310-312 and 319-321 and several other food additives. Before she started using Dairysoft, verbal advice was obtained from Murray Goulburn that there were no antioxidants in the oil which comprised 22% of the product.

After months of increasing problems, we contacted Murray Goulburn again and were now that informed that the canola oil in the product did in fact contain 320, Butylated Hydroxyanisole.

Our daughter removed Dairysoft from her diet and she has since made a complete recovery, although there can be no compensation for the six months of pain and uncertainty which she suffered. Following complaints, Murray Goulburn have now correctly labeled this product, although without any food recall, product safety or public apology notice - from story 1053

Some questions from our facebook group:

"Oh no!!! What about Hungry Jacks?" - thanks to Denise

The listed ingredients in Hungry Jack's fries are :

Potato, Canola Oil, Sunflower Oil, Dextrose

See more

Conclusion: Hungry Jack's fries appear to be failsafe (do we need to add gently that french fries are not a great food to eat if you are trying to lose weight?)

"Is there any other fast food that is Failsafe?" - thanks to Nerissa

At Subway in Australia  you can choose

the Wheat bread or the White bread (none of the other breads)
the lettuce (with carrot and cucumber) if you can manage some moderate salicylates
the Swiss cheese (none of the other cheeses) if you can manage some dairy and amines.

This is what we eat if we get stuck without food sometimes. Or a fresh bread roll from Coles (read the ingredients list) or Bakers Delight with a banana as filling (if you can manage amines). Or take your own fillings.