Common Myths About Fast Food You Need to Stop Believing

Is fast food as bad for you as they say? Nearly everyone indulges occasionally. In fact, one study reports the average person spends $1,200 per year on fast food and 44% of people eat it once a week. Moderation may be the key. Check out these common fast-food myths that aren’t actually true. You should absolutely ignore the ridiculous tale on page 10.

1. Myth: McDonald’s shakes don’t contain dairy

Shamrock shake
McDonald’s shake | Todd Van Hoosear/Wikimedia Commons
  • Truth: The shakes contain milk from its “reduced-fat soft serve, which makes them thick and creamy,” according to McDonald’s website.

People wonder why McDonald’s blended drinks are called “shakes,” not “milkshakes.” Some think it’s because they’re made with chemicals rather than real milk, but that’s not true. McDonald’s FAQ explains: “Dairy regulations vary from state to state on what can officially be called a ‘milkshake.’ We like to keep it simple and refer to them strictly as ‘shakes.’”

Next: The truth about Taco Bell meat

2. Myth: Taco Bell uses ‘Grade F’ meat

Taco Bell Launches Its New Cantina Restaurant Experience
Taco Bell | Scott Olson/Getty Images
  • Truth: The chain’s meat is made with beef, seasoning, and thickeners, not dog or horse meat like some sources suggest.

Ah yes, the rumor about Taco Bell meat that got a grade of D or F — even though those classifications don’t exist. What’s the truth? It’s the same USDA-inspected meat you find at the grocery store. They also try to provide healthier options, like the Fresco menu with choices under 350 calories.

Next: The White Castle rumor that came crumbling down.

3. Myth: White Castle uses fake onions

Chopped onions in a frying pan
Onions |
  • Truth: Onions are affordable, and White Castle uses the real thing.

Sources claim White Castle uses “cabbage slices soaked in onion juice” to create the taste of onions on their burgers. But onions are cheap. Why would they go to the trouble of faking them?

Next: Does this popular drink contain insects?

4. Myth: Starbucks frappuccinos are made with insects

Starbucks Frappuccinos are blended drinks
Starbucks Frappuccino | dontree_m/ iStock/Getty Images Plus
  • Truth: This rumor used to be true, but it’s not anymore.

In 2012, people noticed a certain ingredient in frappuccinos, and news spread. The item in question? Carmine (also called cochineal), a natural red food coloring made from crushed bugs that’s used in many food and beauty products. Starbucks removed it from all drinks, but other food items you eat may still have it.

Next: This is why your McDonald’s hamburger won’t rot.

5. Myth: McDonald’s food doesn’t decompose

McDonald’s Big Mac hamburger | Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images
  • Truth: Fast food is shaped and cooked in a way that preserves it.

The internet has many side-by-side comparisons of fast-food burgers and fries next to homemade versions. The homemade food breaks down and gets moldy after a few months. The fast food looks exactly the same. People attribute this to all of the preservatives. But is this true?

In reality, McDonald’s hamburgers don’t rot, but they do dry out and harden because they’re small, thin, and cooked on a hot griddle. The moisture loss makes the burger dry out before it can get moldy. A homemade burger of the same size and cooked the same way won’t rot either.

Next: About those mutant KFC chickens…

6. Myth: KFC chicken comes from genetically modified mutants

Bucket of KFC chicken
KFC | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
  • Truth: KFC isn’t hiding anything about its chickens with the company’s name change and rebranding.

Farms full of beakless, featherless mutant chickens would make a great horror movie, but this isn’t what’s happening at KFC. This rumor stems from the chain changing its name from Kentucky Fried Chicken to KFC, removing any reference to real chicken. Despite the change, KFC still sells regular chicken. They changed the name to publicize other menu items.

Next: Do Egg McMuffins have real eggs in them?

7. Myth: McDonald’s Egg McMuffins don’t contain eggs

close-up of an egg McMuffin sandwich
McDonald’s Egg McMuffin | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
  • Truth: Menu items with eggs have additives that enhance color, flavor, and texture. But they use real eggs.

Hitting the McDonald’s drive-thru may be a good bet for a fast, filling breakfast. But are you eating “fake” eggs with your Egg McMuffins? Don’t worry; this rumor isn’t true either. McDonald’s always uses real eggs.

Next: Does liquid meat exist?

8. Myth: Arby’s sandwiches are made with ‘liquid meat’

Arby's restaurant
Arby’s | Tim Boyle/Staff/Getty Images
  • Truth: Arby’s beef is transported in a solution within a sealed bag.

What the heck is liquid meat? Sources have said that’s what makes Arby’s roast beef sandwiches so uniform. The rumor began because Arby’s beef arrives in a sealed bag, soaked in a solution of water, salt, and sodium phosphates. But the meat comes in a liquid. It’s not made of liquid, just regular roast beef.

Next: Here’s the answer on pink slime chicken nuggets.

9. Myth: McDonald’s chicken nuggets are made with pink slime

Chicken nuggets
Chicken nuggets | Chris Hondros/Getty Images
  • Truth: Pink slime, also known as “lean, finely textured beef,” is just ground up beef.

Images of a bubblegum-looking blend of meat products circled the internet, with sources claiming that’s what is inside your chicken nuggets. However, McDonald’s chicken nuggets are actually made of 100% white meat chicken with no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. The news source that started the rumor had to pay out in a lawsuit when the meat processor suffered decreased business after the scandal.

Next: It’s unlikely you’ll find body parts here.

10. Myth: You might find body parts in Wendy’s chili

Wendy's Chili
| Wendy’s via Facebook
  • Truth: Fast-food chains must follow strict standards for food prep, so you won’t find human or animal body parts in your meal.

A woman did find a finger in her Wendy’s chili bowl in 2006. But she put it there herself because she wanted a lawsuit payout (she lost and got prison time on extortion charges). With strict standards about food prep, it’s doubtful you’ll find human or animal body parts in your fast food.

Next: Does McDonald’s utilize the whole cow?

11. Myth: McDonald’s beef makes use of the whole cow

First McDonalds Franchise Recalls Fast-Food Giants Beginnings
McDonald’s | Tim Boyle/Getty Images
  • Truth: They use 100% beef, of course, but not the whole cow.

Some question the term “100% beef” in McDonald’s ingredient list. If it’s 100% percent, do beef suppliers use the entire cow? No, of course not. A McDonald’s hamburger doesn’t have ground-up cow bones inside.

Next: Some think this restaurant uses drugs to keep people addicted to it.

12. Myth: Popeyes’ batter is laced with cocaine

Popeyes | Coast-to-Coast/iStock/Getty Images
  • Truth: They use 100% beef, of course, but not the whole cow.

Yes, it’s delicious, but the batter at Popeyes’ is not laced with illegal drugs. Rumors swirled that a manager put cocaine in the chicken batter, but those allegations were false. This “news article” was just a prank (and a publicity stunt).

Next: This option at McDonald’s was removed from the menu.

13. Myth: You can super size your McDonald’s order

McDonald's Big Mac
McDonald’s | Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images
  • Truth: You can’t supersize anything anymore.

The popular 2004 documentary Super Size Me! highlighted the worst parts of the fast-food industry, including the gigantic portions of McDonald’s supersize meals. Now with a focus on health, McDonald’s has removed this option from menus. Want to stay healthy? Order from the kid’s menu to control your portions.

Next: Vegetarians need to avoid this.

14. Myth: McDonald’s French fries are vegetarian-friendly

Mc Donalds French Fries
French fries | Junce/iStock/Getty Images
  • Truth: McDonald’s has always added some form of beef to their fries.

They may be potato-based, but the French fries are far from vegetarian or vegan. McDonald’s used to fry the potatoes in beef fat, which gave them an appealing flavor. They don’t do that practice anymore. But the chain still adds natural beef flavor to the fries to get the same taste. Want vegan fries? Head to India, where they don’t use any beef products at McDonald’s.

Next: Most myths are probably fake.

15. Myth: Most disgusting urban legends about fast food

Fast Food Restaurant White Castle Celebrates Its 90th Anniversary On Capitol Hill
White Castle burgers | Win McNamee/Getty Images
  • Truth: Most rumors are just that — totally false.

Ever hear the one about a woman who bit into a fast food cheeseburger only to discover a headless rat inside? There are countless stories like this floating around. And most of the wildest rumors you’ve heard are untrue. When in doubt, check Snopes for the truth.