The Deadly Ingredients in Your Favorite McDonald’s Order Will Make You Rethink Everything

It’s no secret that the items on McDonald’s menu aren’t the healthiest for you. (All that cholesterol! All that MSG!) But you may not be aware of the truly toxic ingredients that make it into your order. Here are the deadly ingredients in your favorite McDonald’s items. (The component on page 13 will make you question everything.)

1. Partially hydrogenated oils

Lady eats a beefburger

These oils can cause all sorts of problems. | Cate Gillon/Getty Images

You’re probably used to seeing this ingredient listed in the foods you eat. But that doesn’t make it safe. The bad cholesterol loaded in partially hydrogenated oils can lead to blood clots, stroke, and heart disease. And according to, partially hydrogenated oils are even used to cook menu items at McDonald’s that are supposed to be “healthier” options.

Next: This common ingredient is more dangerous than you think …

2. Artificial colors

These make happy meals less happy. | David Paul Morris/Getty Images points out that all artificial coloring does is make food look better. But some commonly-used colors have been linked to cancer, Eating Well says. Plus, they add that faux colors are connected to problems with children “including allergies, hyperactivity, learning impairment, irritability and aggressiveness.” (Makes you rethink those ‘Happy Meals’ doesn’t it?)

Next: And that’s not all …

3. Caramel color

Coca Cola being poured into glass

The caramel color in sodas is connected to cancer. | Nitrub/Getty Images

As you may have guessed, this is the component that gives the soda in McDonald’s vending machines their color. It’s also connected to cancer in laboratory animals, LIVESTRONG tells us. Some caramel coloring has also been linked to allergies and immune system deficiencies.

Next: This ingredient has a few question marks next to it …

4. Carrageenan


This ingredient keeps McDonald’s food looking plump.  | Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

This ingredient has been used to plump up fast food for years. But that doesn’t make it safe. Carrageenan has been linked to health issues ranging from bloating to food allergies to colon cancer. (However, Healthline admits that more studies need to be done to identify exactly what ailments it’s connected to.)

Next: This additive isn’t as innocent as you think …

5. Soybean oil

Mc Donalds French Fries

Soybean oil can give people unpredictable reactions. | Junce/iStock/Getty Images

The issue with soybean oil is that it isn’t listed in most places as an allergen on most foods. But this ingredient is the source of major food allergies for both adults and children — and the reaction can be unpredictable. Additionally, says it’s in 65 McDonald’s menu items.

Next:  This common ingredient is worse than you think …

6. High fructose corn syrup

McDonald's apple pie

High fructose corn syrup is sweet, but probably bad for you. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

It’s true — high fructose corn syrup gets a lot of mixed reviews. And according to Mayo Clinic, there still isn’t sufficient evidence that it’s worse than other sweeteners. That being said, too much sugar, in general, contributes to weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease.

Next: This deadly ingredient is as addictive as it is deadly …

7. Hydrolyzed protein

McDonald's drive thru service

This makes you crave McDonald’s food even more. | Yaoinlove/iStock/Getty Images

As if MSG wasn’t bad enough. points out that hidden ingredients such as hydrolyzed protein that make you crave bad foods even more, and are allegedly linked to neurodegenerative diseases.

Next: One of the most shocking ingredients on our list …


This ingredient has been banned in Europe. | McDonald’s

The worst thing about this additive used in frying McDonald’s fries and chicken nuggets isn’t that it’s linked to food allergies. It’s that TBHQ has been linked to cancer and has been banned in Europe. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has reportedly limited its use to 0.02%, although just a little bit of this ingredient can cause problems.

Next: This ingredient could be used in your car …

9. Tertiary butylhydroquinone

New York City Board Of Health Approves Bloomberg's Over Sized Sugary Drink Ban

This ingredient is derived from petroleum. | Mario Tama/Getty Images

Don’t shy away from learning about this ingredient because it has a long intimidating name. It’s in your McDonald’s chicken nuggets, and it’s not exactly meant to be in your food. CheckBiotech tells us that this component is derived from petroleum, which can have lasting effects on the lungs, liver, nervous system, and reproductive organs.

Next: Not a good way to start off your day …

10. BHA

McDonald's exterior.

This ingredient is another possible carcinogen. | Tofumax/iStock/Getty Images explains that this ingredient — short for butylated hydroxyanisole — is commonly found in items on McDonald’s breakfast menu. It is believed to be a carcinogen since it reportedly causes tumors in lab animals.

Next: More bad news for the breakfast menu …

11. Propyl gallate

close-up of an egg McMuffin sandwich

You could have an allergic reaction to an Egg McMuffin | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

For starters, this additive found in Egg McMuffins is also used in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Side effects include stomach irritability, liver and kidney problems, and allergic reactions on your skin.

Next: The effect this ingredient has on your blood can be costly …

12. Sodium phosphate

McFlurry ice cream

This chemical can harm your heart and kidneys. | Popartic/iStock/Getty Images

This ingredient is found in the cheese and ice cream that the fast food chain uses, says. Eating too much of it can lead to excess phosphate in your blood which can accelerate aging and contribute to both heart and kidney disease.

Next: This additive is worse than you may think …

13. Cellulose

Yes, there’s wood in your McDonald’s chicken. | TonyBaggett/iStock/Getty Images

Long story short, “cellulose” is a fancy name for wood chip pulp. Yes — there is wood pulp in your chicken nuggets and your fish fillet. And according to Grub Street, this ingredient can have a negative effect on cholesterol levels without adding any nutritional value.

Next: This long-named ingredient is worse than it appears …


McDonalds Big Mac

This ingredient can lead to heart disease. | Spflaum1/iStock/Getty Images

This ingredient, short for “diacetyl tartaric acid esters of monoglycerides”, is found in the dough in the fast food restaurants food items, says. It’s pumped full of trans fat and bad cholesterol, which can of course cause heart disease.

Next: Last, but certainly not least, we have …

15. Ammonium sulfate

hamburger on white background

That bun isn’t as innocent as it looks | rvlsoft/

This ingredient, which is an inorganic salt, is used to make fast food hamburger buns bigger. But as The Daily Meal tells us, the most common use for ammonium sulfate is in garden fertilizer. It has also been banned in certain countries because it is used to make explosives, The Daily Meal says. (Although, clearly, it’s deemed safe enough to be in your cheeseburger bun.)

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