Two More Chemicals of Concern Removed from McDonald’s Menu

Change is slow going in the Big Food industry and we take progress where we can. That is why we are pleased that fast food giant McDonald’s has finally removed these two chemicals of concern from their menu items. For more information on Sodium Benzoate and Calcium Propionate and why McDonald’s removal of these synthetic additives is important for consumers please scroll down.


McDonald’s Removes Artificial Ingredients From Burgers

Calcium propionate and sodium benzoate disappear from Big Macs and Quarter Pounders, as fast-food chain seeks to project more healthful image


McDonald’s Corp. is stripping artificial ingredients from more food to win over customers who, the burger chain believes, don’t want to eat things with names like calcium propionate and sodium benzoate.

Those and other ingredients found in the buns, cheese and sauce on some of McDonald’s best-known burgers are gone from its U.S. restaurants…The Big Mac, Quarter-Pounder with Cheese and burgers in Happy Meals are now among items free from artificial preservatives, flavorings and coloring.




Food Additive of Concern*


Calcium Propionate
(Salts and Esters of
Propionic Acid)


Where Found

The industrialized version
of this food additive is
commonly used as a
preservative and can be
found in processed meats,
poultry and sausages,
canned fish and shellfish,
breakfast cereals,
noodles/pasta, dairy
products, yogurt,
puddings, desserts,
processed cheeses and
cheese spreads, packaged
baked goods, bread
products, pizza dough,
biscuits, beer, malt and
some alcoholic beverages,
diet/low-calorie foods and
drinks, sports drinks,
mustard and other
condiments, sauces, some
processed vegetables and
vegetable dishes, soups,
almond butter and other
nut-based butters, and
salads (incl. potato
salad/macaroni salad),


Red Flags
This additive may cause
adverse reactions for people
with gastritis, ulcers and
other gastrointestinal
problems. Additionally,
commonly used bread
preservatives (for which
Calcium Propionate is one)
are suspected of creating
possible complications for
individuals with bladder
conditions such as
interstitial cystitis (“painful
bladder syndrome”),
sensitive bladders, or who
suffer from frequent bladder
infections or irregularities.
Other adverse reactions may
include skin reactions,
swelling, edema and
subsequent weight gain,
nasal congestion, headaches
and migraines,
disturbances, digestive
problems (incl.
diarrhea/IBS), irritability,
agitation, difficulty
concentrating, and
restlessness, esp. among
children, those who
experience adverse reactions
to fermented products and
processed food items, and
those individuals with other
sensitivities to food
See: “Propionic Acid”


Food Additive of Concern*


Sodium Benzoate
See “Benzoates”


Where Found

This additive is commonly
used as an antibacterial
and antifungal
preservative (as well as
flavor enhancer) in a wide
variety of processed foods
including soft drinks, fruit
juices, milk/milk
products, cheeses,
margarine, meat products,
maple syrup, relishes,
pickles, jarred peppers,
bottled lemon juice, salad
dressings, sauces, mixes,
gravies, soups,
condiments, flour, baked
goods, confectionery and
(Note: Sodium Benzoate
may be present in
conventional and fast
foods restaurant foods
and can also be found in
toothpastes, mouth
washes, and other
personal care products, as
well as prescription and
over the counter drugs.)
See “Benzoates”


Red Flags

This additive may cause
adverse reactions for people
with chemical sensitivities
(including people with
asthma and other
respiratory conditions) and
allergies (incl. to
polyethylene glycol);
symptoms may include skin
reactions (incl.
rash/urticaria), headaches,
breathing problems, swelling
of face, throat, tongue,
hands, and feet,
swollen/painful lymph
nodes, earaches, edema and
subsequent weight gain,
digestive problems, rhinitis,
difficulty concentrating,
insomnia, anxiousness,
hyperactivity, and
depression, to name a few.


*Source: The Food Hacker’s Handbook: A Guide to Breaking the Processed Foods and Additives Addiction

Data sources include empirical scientific studies, epidemiological studies, aggregate anecdotal consumer reports, meta-analyses, government agencies additive reports, clinical trials, and national and international health organization and institute funded studies and reports.