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Is there a chance in heck we can get Fast Food chains to cut back on the salt on the fries?

L2k Mar 28, 2014 09:32 AM

We all know Fast Food isn't good for you (tales of weight loss while eating at McDonalds alone aside). But wouldn't it at least be a little less bad for you if they didn't take that extended shake of salt over each and every batch of fries coming from the oil?

I'm told the heavy salting was done to encourage folks to buy larger drinks, but most of the fast food joints around here allow you free refills, so that doesn't really work. And I guess if they salt it for you, they don't have to have piles of salt packets for the folks who do like their fries salted.

I know I always ask for no salt, and although it makes the order take a little longer, I figure it's a tiny bit healthy. If the fast food joints would stop salting fries on their own, they could try to gain some "high ground" by explaining that it's for the health of their customers.

Is there a chance this could happen? Or am I the only one who prefers a salt free fry?

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    acgold7 RE: L2k Mar 28, 2014 09:34 AM

    Yes, you are. If they did this there would be no point in going to fast food places.

    It is a myth that this would be any better for you. It's the carbs that are killing you, not the fat or salt.

    2 Replies
    1. re: acgold7
      jmckee RE: acgold7 Mar 28, 2014 09:36 AM

      Well, actually. NONE of it is killing you. Unless you're eating way to much of it. In which case, don't blame the food. Blame yourself. The food isn''t killing you; YOU are killing you.

      1. re: acgold7
        paulj RE: acgold7 Mar 28, 2014 02:05 PM

        If you worried about the carbs, you wouldn't even order the fries.

      2. mcsheridan RE: L2k Mar 28, 2014 09:38 AM

        Salt-free fries? Gak. No thank you.

        I agree some places go overboard with salt, but fries absorb salt best when just out of the fryer; you can watch the salt bounce off colder fries.

        Wendy's switched to sea salt some time back, and they've lost something in the process.

        1. carolinadawg RE: L2k Mar 28, 2014 10:17 AM

          What's unhealthy about salt?

          1. f
            ferret RE: L2k Mar 28, 2014 11:18 AM

            People like salty fries; people expect salty fries. You want healthy? Order carrot sticks. The salt won't kill you.

            1. coney with everything RE: L2k Mar 28, 2014 11:21 AM

              most of the sodium you consume comes from teh rest of your meal, not the salt on the fries.

              1. sunshine842 RE: L2k Mar 28, 2014 11:30 AM

                The Quick burger chain in Europe switched to no salt on their fries several years ago.

                Doesn't seem to have hurt them in the least -- although the fries are the least of their worries. I can't stand their burgers.

                10 Replies
                1. re: sunshine842
                  PHREDDY RE: sunshine842 Mar 28, 2014 11:55 AM

                  I never order fries at the three big USA burger joints..
                  In fact I never order fries anywhere out except for Peter Lugers fried German potatoes in Great Neck NY..

                  I frequent that restaurant once a year....
                  Makes sense?

                  1. re: PHREDDY
                    sunshine842 RE: PHREDDY Mar 28, 2014 12:07 PM

                    okay...if that's what you dig...but why "makes sense?"

                    1. re: PHREDDY
                      s
                      small h RE: PHREDDY Mar 28, 2014 12:18 PM

                      <I frequent that restaurant once a year....
                      Makes sense?>

                      No. "Frequent" means "go to often." If you only go once a year, you aren't frequenting the restaurant.

                      1. re: small h
                        f
                        ferret RE: small h Mar 28, 2014 01:03 PM

                        You can "occasional" a restaurant.

                        1. re: ferret
                          j
                          James Cristinian RE: ferret Mar 28, 2014 01:12 PM

                          Or seldom frequent.

                          1. re: James Cristinian
                            s
                            small h RE: James Cristinian Mar 28, 2014 01:42 PM

                            You think you're kidding. I've seen "I frequent that place a lot." From your friends at the Department of Redundancy Department.

                          2. re: ferret
                            s
                            small h RE: ferret Mar 28, 2014 01:38 PM

                            Or be rarin' to go. I think I just came up with a name for my takeout steakhouse.

                            1. re: small h
                              j
                              James Cristinian RE: small h Mar 28, 2014 03:24 PM

                              I'll have the porterhouse for two. Be sure to give me two plastic knife and fork sets, and plenty of extra salt packets.

                              1. re: James Cristinian
                                Veggo RE: James Cristinian Mar 28, 2014 03:29 PM

                                A plastic knife may work on the tenderloin side of a porterhouse, but it will be more challenging on the other side of the T bone..:)

                                1. re: Veggo
                                  j
                                  James Cristinian RE: Veggo Mar 28, 2014 03:43 PM

                                  Since I won't be at a fancy restaurant, instead driving on the busiest freeway in town, (610 Galleria Houston), I can just gnaw on the strip all the way to the bone, with chunks of fat on my shirt and floorboard. I'll pass the bone off to the wifeacita and if anything is left we'll give it to the first hungry dog we see, with plenty of salt, of course.

                    2. p
                      pedalfaster RE: L2k Mar 28, 2014 03:39 PM

                      Salt is good and tastes delicious.

                      If you are "salt sensitive" (ask your MD) you may have to opt to have it omitted.

                      For those watching their calories (expanding waistlines) the bigger issue is the fat used in frying.

                      1. b
                        Bigjim68 RE: L2k Mar 28, 2014 03:40 PM

                        I'm not sure I understand the problem. The restaurant is preparing the fries to the taste of the majority of their customers, and are willing to accommodate your off menu request. You get fresh unsalted fries. A little wait seems a small price to pay.

                        1. Veggo RE: L2k Mar 28, 2014 03:45 PM

                          I hope not, but I don't eat enough fast food. I have a condition for which my primary physician recommends more salt.

                          1. ccbweb RE: L2k Mar 28, 2014 05:38 PM

                            What else do you order? A small fries has 160mg of sodium as they prepare it normally. A small cheeseburger (with one thin patty) has 680mg of sodium. A $1 menu McChicken has 800mg of sodium.

                            The salt on the fries is, almost literally, negligible by comparison.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: ccbweb
                              c
                              Clams047 RE: ccbweb Mar 30, 2014 04:06 AM

                              Noticed that years ago. If you want to cut the salt, avoid the burger (or most any fast-food sandwich). From McD's site - small 3.5 oz burger - 480 mg salt, small 2.5 oz fries - 160 mg salt, 4.6 oz sausage biscuit - 1190 mg salt, 5 wings (5.5 oz) - 1450 mg salt, 5.1 oz McChicken - 800 mg salt.

                              Their fries have the least salt.

                              1. re: Clams047
                                t
                                tastesgoodwhatisit RE: Clams047 Mar 31, 2014 05:49 PM

                                That's an excellent point. It's sort of like wanting the restaurant to leave the sprinkles off your hot fudge brownie sundae to make it healthier.

                                From a practical perspective, I find salting a paper sleeve of French fries from a salt packet after the fries have cooled gives inferior fries - the salt sticks better when the fries are fresh out of the fryer, and the big shakers they use spread the salt more evenly.

                            2. m
                              Mellicita RE: L2k Mar 29, 2014 04:02 PM

                              For something as unhealthy as a French fry, the sodium content is the least bad part of it.

                              McDonalds is not in the business of making healthy foods. That's not their customer base. And they have tried to do healthier foods in the past and they didn't sell very well. They would only lose customers by offering bland unsalted fries.

                              Not to mention, people don't want to drive through and then have to mess with opening 5 packets of salt and trying to distribute the salt evenly around their fries as they drive down the road.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Mellicita
                                j
                                James Cristinian RE: Mellicita Mar 29, 2014 04:14 PM

                                The salt packets, that would cost them a bunch of money instead of salting fries. McDonald's is notoriously stingy with condiments. I once asked for extra salt for a filet-o-fish and after some rooting around by the employee I was rewarded with one. I got the feeling if they took long enough I would just go away.

                              2. Ttrockwood RE: L2k Mar 29, 2014 06:24 PM

                                Until there is a significant financial advantage to removing salt from the fries they will continue to salt one of the highest profit margin best selling products they have.

                                So, to recap: no.

                                1. Kajikit RE: L2k Mar 30, 2014 02:11 PM

                                  Fries generally aren't too bad when it comes to salt - it's the BURGERS and especially the 'special sauce/s' that are inedible salt bombs.

                                  1. e
                                    ebchower RE: L2k Mar 31, 2014 11:39 AM

                                    Read this book for a good explanation.

                                    http://www.amazon.com/Salt-Sugar-Fat-...

                                    1. f
                                      FoodPopulist RE: L2k Mar 31, 2014 12:50 PM

                                      I sometimes add salt to fries ordered at McDonalds.

                                      1. L2k RE: L2k Mar 31, 2014 02:17 PM

                                        Well, I didn't expect this to go quite like that.

                                        I guess for many folks it's easier to answer "the burgers are worse for you" or "it's the fat, not the salt" instead of answering the question that was asked.

                                        But it does appear I'm just about the only one who prefers to taste the fry instead of the salt, so the point is moot.

                                        17 Replies
                                        1. re: L2k
                                          sunshine842 RE: L2k Mar 31, 2014 03:36 PM

                                          I think we just never quite collectively got our heads around why it's a problem, when they'll make them to order for you on request -- so yeah, they *do* offer low-salt fries.

                                          If I'm unfortunate enough to need to be eating at odd hours, I'll order no-salt fries and a Big Mac with no onions -- or similar -- so that it has to be prepared fresh. Can't deal with food that's been suntanning under the heat lamps for ages.

                                          1. re: sunshine842
                                            Veggo RE: sunshine842 Mar 31, 2014 03:47 PM

                                            I have had some off-hour fast food that should have been served in a mini- sarcophagus.

                                            1. re: Veggo
                                              sunshine842 RE: Veggo Mar 31, 2014 03:51 PM

                                              after one or two of those, I learned pretty quick to order something that's just off-standard enough that it has to be made fresh.

                                              (actually most folks who travel for a living have learned that trick -- most the hard way; a few lucky ones who picked up a tip from a veteran road warrior)

                                              1. re: sunshine842
                                                j
                                                James Cristinian RE: sunshine842 Mar 31, 2014 04:03 PM

                                                This may explode a few heads but so be it. Chick-Fil-A no pickle guarantees a fresh one.

                                                1. re: James Cristinian
                                                  sunshine842 RE: James Cristinian Mar 31, 2014 04:06 PM

                                                  whatever works to ensure you don't end up with dried-out, heat-lamped gack.

                                                  1. re: sunshine842
                                                    j
                                                    James Cristinian RE: sunshine842 Mar 31, 2014 04:10 PM

                                                    Works like a charm!

                                          2. re: L2k
                                            carolinadawg RE: L2k Mar 31, 2014 05:11 PM

                                            You asked three questions. The answer to the question in your title is no. In fairness, that was answered, and several questions asked of you went unanswered.

                                            1. re: L2k
                                              ccbweb RE: L2k Mar 31, 2014 05:44 PM

                                              To be fair, many people also answered the questions you posed. They said, generally, no there isn't a chance and, largely, yes, you're one of the few who prefer them that way.

                                              1. re: ccbweb
                                                j
                                                James Cristinian RE: ccbweb Mar 31, 2014 06:01 PM

                                                I've done a couple of posts without answering the original topic. I prefer my fries salted, especially a local creole fried chicken chain that has wonderful spicy seasoned fries and I ask for extra seasoning, which is salt and some spices.

                                              2. re: L2k
                                                f
                                                ferret RE: L2k Apr 1, 2014 05:13 AM

                                                As you by now realize, they prepare food for the majority of customers, but they will make an effort to satisfy special requests, so where's the problem?

                                                1. re: ferret
                                                  L2k RE: ferret Apr 1, 2014 01:10 PM

                                                  With all the encouragement for folks to "eat healthier" and all the bad press the Fast Food (FF) chains are getting, I expect they will be pressured to try to continue to slowly move their offerings towards the healthy end of the eating spectrum.

                                                  Obviously you'll never eat "healthy" at a FF restaurant, but the writing on the wall is clear. And this is an easy step FF restaurants can take towards making their offerings fall more inline with Daily Recommended levels of sodium.

                                                  1. re: L2k
                                                    sunshine842 RE: L2k Apr 1, 2014 03:25 PM

                                                    but as has been mentioned several times in this thread, the salt on the fries is the least of your worries -- it's the rest of the stuff you're eating that's the salt bomb...and there's no way to request a burger with no salt.

                                                    1. re: sunshine842
                                                      L2k RE: sunshine842 Apr 2, 2014 01:04 PM

                                                      And as I said in the post you replied to here, it's an "easy step" that would garner the chains good publicity. And it does make a tiny dent in ones salt intake.

                                                      1. re: L2k
                                                        carolinadawg RE: L2k Apr 2, 2014 01:53 PM

                                                        And avoiding most fast food will put a huge dent in one's salt intake. Of course, there's no real evidence that salt is bad for you.

                                                        1. re: L2k
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                                                          ferret RE: L2k Apr 2, 2014 03:28 PM

                                                          You assume it would garner good publicity, but based on what? Presumably, people with salt issues are not customers; trying to attract them as customers at the risk of pissing off their existing customer base is likely a horrible business decision. McDonald's doesn't bury it's head in the sand, it does try to sense changes in the market. If there was a broad demand for salt-free fries they would have tried to address it. As it is, they DO address it on an individualized basis.

                                                          I like their Egg McMuffin, but prefer to order it without meat. Now I presume that I'm not the only one but there's no Egg/Cheese option on the menu. I have to order a regular one (at menu price) and have them hold the meat. Is that fair? Probably not. But I can't get too bent out of shape expecting them to conform to my tastes.

                                                      2. re: L2k
                                                        carolinadawg RE: L2k Apr 1, 2014 04:34 PM

                                                        Actually, it's quite easy to eat "healthy" at many FF restaurants, if one desires to do so.

                                                        1. re: L2k
                                                          a
                                                          acgold7 RE: L2k Apr 3, 2014 10:13 AM

                                                          Your assumptions are completely logical, and also completely wrong. This has been tried numerous times over the past 40 years and the public stayed away in droves. No one is interested in healthful fast food from traditional chains. No one. It's the fastest way for a chain to go bankrupt. Read the news articles about this dating back to the 70s.

                                                          There are "healthy" chains that do this, but conventional chains have not had success with this strategy.

                                                    2. inaplasticcup RE: L2k Mar 31, 2014 04:13 PM

                                                      I prefer my fries without salt and always ask for them that way. For me, it's about flavor and not health risks.

                                                      I notice a lot of fast food places have some salt solution soaked into the fries as well. Salt on top of that is just too much.

                                                      1. s
                                                        sedimental RE: L2k Mar 31, 2014 10:05 PM

                                                        I love salty fries. I have no health issue with salt, I am perfectly healthy and eat them only every once in a while.
                                                        Potatoes without seasoning are not worth eating, to me.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: sedimental
                                                          rockandroller1 RE: sedimental Apr 14, 2014 10:36 AM

                                                          I completely agree with this. Potatoes without salt? No thanks.

                                                        2. KarenDW RE: L2k Mar 31, 2014 10:23 PM

                                                          I order my fries with "no salt" and "well done" so that I can have the freshest possible fries. And then I add salt and pepper to suit my taste. McD has never complained about that.

                                                          1. t
                                                            treb RE: L2k Apr 1, 2014 05:34 AM

                                                            Yes, just order them they way 'you' like them and others will do the same for themselves.

                                                            1. greygarious RE: L2k Apr 1, 2014 05:29 PM

                                                              I am on your admittedly small team, won't eat restaurant fries that have been salted. But I am sure that what you get when you order unsalted fries at a fast food place are NOT "salt free fries". I've done the latter at home. Big taste difference. The homemade ones do need a pinch of surface salt. I suspect inaplasticcup is correct that they brine the cut potatoes before frying them. Either that, or it's the residual salt on the scoop or the hot-plate tray onto which they dump the just-cooked fries.

                                                              1. Kris in Beijing RE: L2k Apr 12, 2014 12:08 PM

                                                                I'm in the add-salt camp.

                                                                We used to treasure the 2 "seasons" each year when McD and BK would offer special seasoning salt packets with the fries-- which were served in a special bag so you could shake them violently with the seasoning.

                                                                1. s
                                                                  smoledman RE: L2k Apr 13, 2014 12:15 AM

                                                                  Fast food is horribly unhealthy due to the deep frying and use of unhealthy oils(soybean, canola). The healthiest diet includes loads of fresh vegetables, fish and healthy fats high in Omega 3s(avocado, olive oil, walnuts).

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: smoledman
                                                                    carolinadawg RE: smoledman Apr 13, 2014 06:22 PM

                                                                    Wow, thanks so much! I have never heard that advice before.

                                                                    1. re: smoledman
                                                                      jmckee RE: smoledman Apr 14, 2014 10:52 AM

                                                                      And "healthiest" diet (actually, grammatically it would be "most healthful") can include the occasional fast food meal. Because fast food is not "horribly unhealthy" unless you eat it all the time. Depending on your genetics and your metabolism.

                                                                      1. re: smoledman
                                                                        paulj RE: smoledman Apr 14, 2014 11:20 AM

                                                                        You must have missed this thread:
                                                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/969299
                                                                        on whether certain fats are healthier than others.

                                                                      2. c
                                                                        cwdonald RE: L2k Apr 14, 2014 08:31 PM

                                                                        No.. next question.

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