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Nov 6, 2011 07:39 PM

Do your buns taste like gym mats? The where's azodicarbonamide game - McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, Subway, BK, KFC, etc [moved from General Topics]

I think I had my last fast food burger at McDonald's today. Maybe it was the power of suggesttion but I thought "you know, this DOES taste like what chewing on a gym mat might.

The press was all a twitter about azodicarbonamide being in the McRib bun. They leaped like lemmings off a cliff following a blog that decided to report ... out of context ... that it was in the McRib bun.

Yes it is. But it is also in most fast food buns and supermarket bread.

Wiki pretty much says what most sites say ... it is a "flour bleaching agent and improving agent."

Wiki goes on "The principal use of azodicarbonamide is in the production of foamed plastics as an additive ... Common examples of this application are window and door gaskets, padded floor mats, gym/exercise mats, shoe soles, etc."

It is banned in Europe because of the belief that it could cause respitory problems such as asthma. There are other possible health issues.

The big story was NOT that it was in the McRib bun. The big story is that it is in almost every bun. However, it seems journalism standards have dropped these days.

Anyway, I figured I'd buy a basic McDonald's cheeseburger and this time pay attention to the bun. I took a couple of bites and couldn't finish it. It tasted like floor padding.

A little knowledge ... and the power of suggestion ... can be a dangerous thing,

A few more links ... I was lazy ... there are a zillion of them. These are just the first few that showed up in Goggle.

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  1. I don't know if my buns taste like gym mats, I can't get my head and back to contort that way! :)
    Sorry, couldn't resist!

    But yeah, I read a lot about that too. But the question is, why do we need that? It seems as though now-a-days with chemical engineers concocting a new bun with some new chemical, it's costing more money. Here's a thought, get rid of all the food "engineers", cut-down on the hundreds of food-chemical suppliers, and it'll probably cost less to use higher-quality back-to-basics recipes! Yeah, I know there will always have to be preservatives for fast food, but come on. When the list of ingredients in that "bun" is longer than my arm, when it should be flour, water, salt, etc. there is a problem. And in some cases, the main ingredient isn't even "wheat"

    2 Replies
    1. re: bwinter714

      Is that why artisan breads are so much cheaper than Wonder bread? :)

      1. re: paulj

        There is still a difference between mass-production and artisnal production methods. You can't really expect a guy (or gal) making 50 loaves a day to compete on a dollar-for-dollar basis with a corporation making thousands of loaves per day. Think about it though, if wonder bread costs around $3 a loaf, and a artisan loaf around $5 - $9 a loaf, then in terms of efficiency, I think the artisan company (1-50 people) is doing a lot better than Wonder Bread (1000's of employees) in keeping the price down without mass-production and food-additives. I'm sure if it wasn't an oxymoron to mass-produce artisan bread, that they could be competitive with Wonder Bread on a $ for $ basis.

        Just my opinion though, and unfortunately we'll never be able to prove our points :)

    2. Maybe time to go back to your "vegan experiment".


      1. Well, well, well. On the McRib thread, you decried the mention of adozicarbonamide in regard to the bun as "fear mongering." It seems you've changed your tune. Journalism standards have not changed -- if it hadn't been mentioned in regard to the McRib, many people -- maybe you among them? -- would not have been alerted to it as an additive in Mickey D's buns.

        17 Replies
        1. re: roxlet

          It was fear mongering as far as trying to making it sound like this was something in the McRib that wasn't in anything else. It is like coyotes isolating the weak moose and bringing it down. The poor little, unloved, ridiculed McRib singled out and pounced on when it is the whole fast food herd that is infected.

          1. re: rworange

            Given that McRib was reintroduced to great fanfare, and was the current belle of the fast food ball, it makes sense that the god-awful conglomeration of spongy pork waste meat was singled out. It was an excellent way to point out the "infected" (your word) fast food herd by focusing on an unhappy and unhealthful meal that some people were obsessing over. Not fear mongering, but effective way to get people to focus on the horrible chemicals that are rife in these meals.

            Anyway, your initial complaint wasn't about fear mongering, it was, you claimed, sloppy journalism.

            "One more example of sloppy journalism with no proof to back up the claim."

            1. re: roxlet

              As I just wrote in the McRib thread which had yet one more "I heard it on the webvine" post.

              From McDonalds


              "“Primar­ily, it’s shoulder meat,” explains Rob Cannell, director of McDonald’s U.S. supply chain. “The McRib is made in large processing plants—lots of stainless steel, a number of production lines, and these long cryogenic freezers. The pork meat is chopped up, then seasoned, then formed into that shape that looks like a rib back. Then we flash-freeze it. The whole process from fresh pork to frozen McRib takes about 45 minutes.”

              Its inspiration was Southern BBQ according to the McDonald's chef who created it

              "The McRib’s direct inspiration was Southern BBQ. “I had just come back from Charleston, South Carolina, where I ate sandwiches made from pulled pork,” Arend remembers. “I said to myself, Something with that flavor should really go over."

              So it is not waste meat.

              I won't argue the McRib isn't godawful.. However, it is one of those things that to some people it is so godawful it is good. I mean ... spongy pork, formed like fake ribs ... there's the same alure as a product like SPAM.

              Yoga mat lady was sloppy journalism. And a recent 2011 'story' just added to the web, repeats her information and puts their own spin on it. My post on that in the McRib thread


              Forget George Orwell and how the web has surpassed anything he imagined in 1984 in terms of twisting info and rewriting history. Where is the I.F. Stone of the web?

              If yoga mat lady had said that all fast food had this in it, yes I would have bought that it was an effective way to alert the public about what is in our food.

              However, it wasn't. She used yellow journalism techniques ... just like you see in your supermarket tabloids ... to spin a story about a single product making it seem it was somehow unique and different from every other fast food product.

              The Orwelian government was a pussycat compared to the average person today who uses the web to spread unproven information. If someone says it, it must be true.

              1. re: rworange

                "“Primar­ily, it’s shoulder meat,” explains Rob Cannell, director of McDonald’s U.S. supply chain."

                "Primarily." I rest my case.

                1. re: roxlet

                  With the rest of the ingredients being water, salt, dextrose, citric acid, BHA, TBHQ.

                  That is how to interpret "primarily"

                  Please provide a source that didn't come from the yoga mat lady blog.

                  Provide a source that reliably documents what parts of the pig are used in the McRib ... maybe actually contacting McDonald's and asking.

                  Unfortunately, the formerly credible mainstream press have done nothing but repeat the twisted information from that blog.

                  Yoga mat lady found a source about processed pork patties in general ... it was more about sausage products ... and then, without any further documentation, made her own conclusion that what was in other processed pork patties was what was in the McRib. It is not.

                  1. re: rworange

                    Thankfully, it's ALL delicious. Who cares, really, what's in it. If it's tasty, it's gotta be good for ya.

                    1. re: rworange

                      YOU provide a source that definitively proves that McDonald's doesn't include suspicious pig parts in the McRib. Maybe YOU should contact McDonald's since you are the one who chooses to put all manners of fast food swill in your body. I err on the side of caution and choose not to put chemicals and industrially created meats and foods in my body. Knock yourself out. Believe what you want.

                      That is how YOU interpret "primarily." I interpret it to mean that there are other pig meats used other than pork shoulder, not chemicals and additives, which are there too.

                      The mainstream press is plenty credible, whether you are agree with them or not. You are not right in all things.

                      Now I am done with this thread. Go ahead and have the last word, which is all you ever want to do anyway.

                      1. re: roxlet

                        Why should I care if McD uses parts of the pig other than the shoulder? Is there something wrong with those parts? Are they less nutritious? I suspect that these authors are just trying to play on middle-America's squeamishness about any part an animal that is not clearly muscle. The ideal meat is well marbled steak.

                        1. re: paulj

                          The point is that the meat is a completely processed, factory-made construct never having been seen in nature. I'm not eating meat that has been recreated in an industrial lab. That's why I care, but you don't have to. It has nothing to do with squeamishness. Or innards, which I adore.

                          1. re: roxlet

                            I'm not eating meat that has been recreated in an industrial lab.


                            Does not compute.

                            The McRib is essentially a hotdog shaped patty with ridges.

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              as long as we don't pretend it's anything else I'm cool

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                We make our own sausages, and grind our own hamburger. I wouldn't eat a commercial hot dog on a bet. Who knows what's in those things. To repeat, I do not eat industrially created meat, but hey, enjoy yourself.

                        2. re: rworange

                          "Primarily" in this particular case almost undoubtedly involves a great deal of cartilage and fat too, considering that shoulder meat is mechanically separated. But what I find most interesting is your almost medium-like knowledge of what yoga mat lady's thought process was when she wrote her piece. I also had to laugh at the phrase, "formerly credible mainstream press." Since when is ANY press empirically credible? Just curious.

                          1. re: mamachef

                            Yeah, I don't deny that what is part of the shoulder such as fat is in there.

                            My major was in Journalism. I have a lot of respect for fact-checking. I.F. Stone was a hero to me.

                            I read yoga lady's report closely and checked the source article and she makes a leap that doesn't appear in that article.

                            Old time Chowhounds won't call what they write about food here reviews out of respect to actual food journalists. It takes a lot of time and talent to do a well-researched, well-written review.

                            While I was a journalist major, I would never ever consider what I do here as reviews. I think I have a talent for finding good eats. I'm not going to be modest in that regard. I'm really, really good at that.

                            But my writing is sloppy and fast. I try to make things as accurate as possible, but I'm not spending hours on anything. I went a few years trying to write a report in 10 minutes. Nothing I write here is even as good as the better food blogs. It's just a pleasant hobby and I do the best I can. I'm not going to elevate it into anything more than that.

                            But the person in me who loves journalistic integrity hates people who try to pass themselves off as reporters without doing the actual work. Then there are those who enjoy tabloid 'journalism' which seems to be yoga mat lady.

                            It sort of shocked and appalled me that the mainstream press picked up on this blog and didn't check facts. Someone should have called McDonald's to see if it was true. I never saw one article that said "We contacted McDonalds and they said ... whatever"

                        3. re: roxlet

                          dingdingding winnah!
                          Primarily can be one really frightening word, if you stop to think about it. Let's see: turn-of-the-century Coca-cola was primarily charged water, sugar and coloring........with cocaine (or cocapaste) added in for that special "up" feelin.' And Seven-up? Primarily, same ingredients as the cola, minus the color, but with the addition of a tot of lithium for another kind of special feeling. And my diet is primarily healthy, but then I blow it off by eating large wads of lardo.

                          1. re: mamachef

                            Hey -- I'd be all for bringing *that* coca-cola classic version back :-)

                            Hold the 7 up, tho.

                        4. re: rworange

                          Like, the formerly credible mainstream press.

                  2. Ah, great. Another thing to look for on labels. Time to make my own bread I guess....

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: CrazyOne

                      Well, be sure to make that bread with unbleached flour.

                      1. re: rworange

                        but bleached soft southern white flour makes the best biscuits (or so the experts claim). :) And then there's bromated cake flour

                        1. re: paulj

                          Well, my favorite answer about why flour is bleached was someone who said "because it tastes so good"

                          If the flour doesn't kill you, the fried chicken or gravy will.

                          Gotta love this question " How much unbleached white flour do I use when substituting it for bleached white flour? "


                          Seems like , the first head of the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Harvey Wiley tried to ban bleached flour in 1920. He lost and it's been downhill since then.

                          1. re: rworange

                            I'd love to read balanced discussion of the use of bleaching and oxidizing agents in flour. H McGee only has a couple of paragraphs in the 1st edition of his 1st book. Many of the web items are from people with an ax to grind.

                            Recently I heard something about Dr Wiley. It had to do with detailed food labels at a birthday party, his 80th I believe. It may have been a trivia item on The Splendid Table.

                            talks about the original 1906 Pure Food and Drug act and subsequent acts to strengthen it. Compared to these improvements, I suspect Wiley's loss on the bleached flour battle is minor.

                            1. re: paulj

                              Interesting link.

                              Those who don't learn from history are destined to repeat It

                              Yep, Let's deregulate and let the buyer beware. Let's bring back the days of strawberry jam made from apple scraps, glucose, coal-tar dye, and timothy seed"

                              ... oh ... we have ... there's yoga mat foamer in our flour..

                              So ... you think the jam was delicious?

                    2. I try to avoid most commercial breads, thus I try to avoid fast food places. I mean, what do you expect for a buck? I'd rather get a quality burger on an artisen bun and pay 10x the price. BTW -think of what's in that fast food sans the bun!

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: treb

                        The odd thing is the perception that aritsan is so much more expensive. A fast food meal will run about $7. I can get a good artisan burger for that or maybe a buck or two more

                        1. re: rworange

                          Apples to oranges.

                          You said "fast food *meal*" and then said "artisan *burger*".

                          Meal =/= burger.