What 14 ingredients go into McDonald's french fries in United States?

A McDonald's cheeseburger and fries are displayed on a table at a McDonald's restaurant on Dec 8, 2014 in Novato, California. -- PHOTO: AFP
A McDonald's cheeseburger and fries are displayed on a table at a McDonald's restaurant on Dec 8, 2014 in Novato, California. -- PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Fourteen ingredients go into McDonald's french fries made in the United States, a video posted this week by the fast food group has revealed.

A related video shows how the fries are produced in McDonald's fry processing plant in Idaho.

The videos, featuring former Mythbuster host Grant Imahara, are part of the fast food chain's transparency campaign that aims to answer questions from the public on how its food is made.

In one video, Imahara tackles the question "Is McDonald's beef real?".

As for the french fries most of us know so well, the 14 ingredients are:

1. Potatoes

2. Canola oil

3. Soybean oil

4. Hydrogenated soybean oil

5. Natural beef flavour

6. Hydrolysed wheat

7. Hydrolysed milk

8. Citric acid

9. Dimethylpolysiloxane

10. Dextrose

11. Sodium acid pyrophosphate

12. Salt

13. Corn oil

14. TBHQ or tertiary butylhydroquinone

Potatoes and salt are no brainers, but some of the other ingredients needed some explanation in the video.

Five ingredients - canola oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, corn oil and TBHQ - are part of the oil that fries the potatoes.

The potatoes are partially fried at the factory, and again at the restaurant before they are served.

After the first fry, they are also flash frozen for shipping. The Sodium acid pyrophosphate is added to prevent them from going gray after freezing.

Items 5 to 7 on the list provide the "french fry" flavour.

"That's why a McDonald's french fry tastes like a french fry every time you eat it," said Imahara.

Citric acid and TBHQ are antioxidants that help preserve the freshness of the oil. The US allows up to 0.02 per cent of TBHQ in the oil or fat content of food. Dimethylpolysiloxane is a form of silicone, and used to stop oil from splattering.

Dextrose is a sugar, and makes sure the fries are a consistent golden colour, fry processing plant manager Koko Neher says.

During the factory tour, Imahara highlights a "potato cannon" that uses water jets to shoot potatoes through a grid of knives - and emerge on the other side as thin sticks.

Fries in the UK...

The ingredients for french fries may vary in different countries.

British papers quoted MacDonald's as saying: "The only ingredients in our UK Fries are Potatoes, Vegetable Oil (Sunflower, Rapeseed), Dextrose (only added at beginning of the potato season) with nothing added except a sprinkling of salt after cooking. Customers can request that their fries be served without salt."

...and in Singapore

McDonald's Singapore said that the fries served in outlets here "are made from a variety of Shepody, Umatilla Russet, Ranger Russet and Russet Burbank potatoes".

They are "lightly pre-fried in soybean oil by our supplier", then fried again with "a blend of canola, soy and corn oil" before being served to the customer.

It added that all ingredients used to produce the french fries here are "officially approved".

McDonald's corporate communications director Carolyn Khiu said: "At McDonald's, we use only products and ingredients that meet high standards of quality and safety. These have been tested and officially approved by the relevant local authorities."

chuimin@sph.com.sg