McDonalds, Jamie Oliver and Ammonia Hydroxide - Internet/Facebook Rumour

5 Aug 2013 - Article No: 1755. Filed under: General | Internet/Facebook Rumour

Sorry McDonald`s lovers yucky news!!

I knew there was a reason why I like Jamie Oliver!!

Hamburger chef Jamie Oliver has just won a battle against one of the largest fast food chains in the world. After Oliver showed how McDonald’s hamburgers are made, the franchise announced it will change its recipe.

According to Oliver, the fatty parts of beef are “washed” in ammonium hydroxide and used in the filling of the burger. Before this process, according to the presenter, the food is deemed unfit for human consumption.

According to the chef and presenter, Jamie Oliver, who has undertaken a war against the fast food industry: “Basically, we’re taking a product that would be sold in the cheapest way for dogs, and after this process, is being given to human beings.”

Besides the low quality of the meat, the ammonium hydroxide is harmful to health. Oliver calls it “the pink slime process.”

“Why would any sensible human being put meat filled with ammonia in the mouths of their children?” asked the chef, who wages a war against the fast food industry.

In one of his initiatives, Oliver demonstrates to children how nuggets are made. After selecting the best parts of the chicken, the remains (fat, skin and internal organs) are processed for these fried foods.

The company, Arcos Dorados, the franchise manager in Latin America, said such a procedure is not practiced in the region. The same applies to the product in Ireland and the UK, where they use meat from local suppliers.

In the United States, Burger King and Taco Bell had already abandoned the use of ammonia in their products. The food industry uses ammonium hydroxide as an anti-microbial agent in meats, which has allowed McDonald’s to use otherwise “inedible meat.”

Even more disturbing is that because ammonium hydroxide is considered part of the “component in a production procedure” by the USDA, consumers may not know when the chemical is in their food.

On the official website of McDonald’s, the company claims that their meat is cheap because, while serving many people every day, they are able to buy from their suppliers at a lower price, and offer the best quality products.

In addition, the franchise denied that the decision to change the recipe is related to Jamie Oliver’s campaign. On the site, McDonald’s has admitted that they have abandoned the beef filler from its burger patties.

Messages are circulating the Internet that assert TV chef Jamie Oliver has attacked McDonalds for “washing” their meat in ammonium hydroxide, which is a chemical aimed at preserving the meat for as long as possible to prevent decomposition and to ward of bacteria such as E-coli. (It is composed of ammonia in water. Processed meat treated with ammonia hydroxide turns pink, thus is often referred to as “pink slime”. The process of adding ammonia hydroxide is considered “generally safe” by the FDA, and thus the practise is not illegal.)

For the most part the messages are true but also contain misleading information. Whilst the term “washing” is ambiguous and may not be accurate, it is true that McDonalds did use the antibacterial agent to some of their products but stopped doing so back in 2012 when several high profile campaigns circulated that warned of the controversial practise. The quotes in the message, according to the Daily Mail, did come from Jamie Oliver (presumably in 2012, but we cannot confirm this). Another article from [article now removed] also discusses the practise of using ammonia hydroxide but also concedes that McDonalds no longer do this.

The US fast food franchise did alter their process by discontinuing the use of ammonia hydroxide back in 2012, but denied that any particular campaign, including Jamie Oliver’s, had anything to do with the decision.

Treating meat with ammonia hydroxide is a different complaint to using Mechanically Separated Meat (MSM) which was the complaint of a previous and similar rumour that circulated in 2012. That rumour accused McDonalds of using MSM in their chicken nuggets, and has been confused with this latest rumour that omits references to MSM. McDonalds have not used MSM in their products since 2003, preferring white meat instead. Read here for more information on that previous rumour.

The process of using ammonia hydroxide, whilst allowed by the FDA, remains a controversial measure that consistently receives significant public outcry.

Also worth noting is that the message above does seem to imply that McDonalds still use ammonia hydroxide since it claims that the franchise "will change its recipe", making the message outdated since the change was made back in 2012.

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