There is an ingredient in the food of McDonalds, Burger King, and many other fast food restaurants that people do not realize is there, and it goes by the name of microcrystalline cellulose (MCC) or powdered cellulose or to be more exact. Although not quite wood pulp (which would be cellulose and lignin), it has essentially the same nutritional value. This substance is anti-caking, emulsion-stabilizing, and cling-improving and it is used under a variety of different names such as powdered cellulose, cellulose powder, methylcellulose, and cellulose gum.


This non-absorbable fiber is now seeing widespread use after the industry has been slowly and increasingly incorporating it into food products. This compound is now found in items such as buns, cheeses, sauces, shakes, cakes, rolls, fries, onion rings and even smoothies, just to name a few.

The cost effective nature of this filler has caused many fast food chains to increasingly use less actual chicken in their chicken and less real cream in their ice cream. In a list of fast food chains that have the highest number of products containing cellulose, McDonalds is at the top of the list, with 14 of their menu items having cellulose in them. These items include popular choices such as fish fillets, chicken strips, and biscuits. Burger King comes in at number 2 on the list, with 13 of their menu items containing cellulose.

A lot of the cellulose items such as BBQ sauce, honey mustard, and cheese blends are found in multiple items throughout the menu, making it hard to avoid the filler. These cellulose-based ingredients are non-digestible: wood pulp that has no nutritional value. There are some studies that suggest that microcrystalline cellulose might have effects on cholesterol, but without any clear negative impacts the FDA has approved powdered cellulose for human consumption in moderate amounts.


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