Recently, Chipotle Mexican Grill became the first fast food restaurant of its kind to indicate ingredients containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on its website. GMOs are "plants or animals that have been genetically engineered with DNA from bacteria, viruses or other plants and animals," and most developed nations consider them unsafe to consume.
In fact, more than 60 countries across the world excluding the U.S. have implemented "significant restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs." Chipotle's label (a small G in a red square) is elusive, but the fast food chain is still the first of its kind to begin the practice of labeling ingredients that contain GMOs. The FDA currently does not require restaurants to label their ingredients that contain GMOs, which begs the question: what else are restaurants hiding? Here are some of the things you probably don't know you are consuming when you eat out.
If you've ever ordered a burrito from Chipotle, you've eaten genetically modified organisms. According to the website, GMOs are used in the flour tortillas and fillers including rice, steak, chicken, barbacoa and even fajita vegetables. Only in small writing does a notification indicate Chipotle's goal "is to eliminate GMOs from Chipotle's ingredients."
Well, until the fast food chain that is considered a healthy alternative among its peers "meats" the challenge and stops serving ingredients containing GMOs, you're eating them.
You might not be surprised that your McNuggets aren't 100% chicken, but you probably didn't know that your 10-piece meal is only 50% chicken. Among the "corn derivatives, sugars, leavening agents and completely synthetic ingredients" that are added to McNuggets, you are consuming Dimethylpolysiloxane, a chemical used in silicone that can be found in Sticky Puddy and breast implants. You may want to rethink that happy order.
A closer look at the ingredient information reveals that McDonald's prepares their chicken with "Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent."
Your favorite "Whopper Burger" may not be what you thought it was. Rather than pure beef in your patty, Burger King UK admitted early this year that the chain used horse meat as a replacement. Investigations determined that horse DNA was found in all Burger King burgers, and after denying the presence of horse meat, Burger King came clean. In all honesty, though, horse meat could be less concerning than many of the other ingredients that add flavor to the chain's classic treats.
There are lots of dyes that go into your favorite foods, but maybe none as alarming as Yellow #5, also known as tartrazine. The dye is derived from coal tar and has many health risks, including possible connections to ADHD and anxiety, as well as cancer. Yellow #5 is banned in Austria and Norway and European countries warn against the dye, but it is still widely used throughout the U.S to give foods the bright color of Kraft Mac & Cheese. Despite a petition urging the brand to cut out the ingredient, Kraft is convinced that Yellow #5 is "safe and legal," and will continue to use it in products.
Think your "Taco Supreme" is made with beef filling? You might want to reconsider "yo quiero Taco Bell." Not only is the meat in your taco not the stuff from Mexico, but it's not exactly the stuff from a cow. Taco bell "seasoned meat mixture" is only 36% beef, while the remaining 64% comes from "tasteless fibers, various industrial additives and some flavoring and coloring." The U.S Department of Agriculture has determined what constitutes as ground beef, and believe it or not, Taco Bell's concoction does not qualify. I guess it doesn't come as a surprise given that the food chain sells their tacos for under a dollar. Still, customers deserve to know.
You've probably heard of Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), a type of seasoning that was once commonly used in many Chinese dishes. You might not have known, however, that KFC uses MSG to season most of its chicken dishes. MSG is a controversial ingredient; not officially recognized as unsafe by the FDA, it does illicit an "MSG reaction" in many people who consume it, including headaches, sweating, heart palpitations, nausea, and numbness in the face.