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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?

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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  1. 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

      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

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

      2. 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. What's unhealthy about salt?

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

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

              1. 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

                  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

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

                    1. re: PHREDDY

                      <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: James Cristinian

                            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

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

                            1. re: small h

                              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

                                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

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

                          1. 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

                              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

                                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. 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

                                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. 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. 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. I sometimes add salt to fries ordered at McDonalds.

                                      1. 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

                                          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

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

                                            1. re: Veggo

                                              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

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

                                                1. re: James Cristinian

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

                                          2. re: L2k

                                            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

                                              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

                                                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

                                                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

                                                  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

                                                    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

                                                      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

                                                        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

                                                          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

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

                                                        1. re: L2k

                                                          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. 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. 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

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

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

                                                            1. 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. 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. 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

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

                                                                    1. re: smoledman

                                                                      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

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