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Vegetarians in Paradise
Vegetarianism in the News

August 13, 2001 -- Vegparadise News Bureau

McDonald's Has More Than 31 Flavors

In an effort to respond to the anger of patrons who believed that their French fries were vegetarian, McDonald's issued a statement detailing their efforts to provide updated information about the ingredients in "natural flavors."

Earlier this year vegetarian groups in Houston and Seattle filed lawsuits against the company for using beef flavoring in the French fries. In 1990 McDonald's switched to vegetable oil for cooking to offer consumers a "cholesterol-free menu item." Many patrons assumed that "cholesterol-free" meant no animal products.

The company did not reveal the steps taken in the processing of the French fries. The processing begins with the potatoes being washed and steam-peeled. They are then cut, blanched, dried, par-fried, and frozen. During the par-frying process a small amount of natural flavoring is used. This natural flavoring is derived from beef.

A statement by the company says, "Our McDonald's Nutrition Facts" brochure uses the term "natural flavor" in the ingredient list for French fries. This description is in full compliance with and permitted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration."

Because state and federal labeling laws do not require the listing of specific ingredients, McDonald's is in compliance with those laws by using the phrase "natural flavor."

"Some of our customers have told us that current state and federal labeling standards do not give them as much information as they want to answer their dietary questions," declared Ken Koziol, Global Quality Assurance officer at the company. "If our customers want more information about natural flavors to help them make informed choices, then we want to help them."

This updated information will be provided in pamphlets at the restaurants and on the company's website at http://www.mcdonalds.com.

"The term 'natural flavor' has been around a long time and can be found as an ingredient in some of the most common products in home kitchens and on grocery shelves. Natural flavorings can be found in a variety of foods including cereal, snacks, ice teas, yogurt, frozen dinners, soup, rice, ice cream, mayonnaise, coffee, and many other products, including some of ours," Koziol said. "McDonald's is now providing more information about the specific source of the natural flavoring - dairy, meat, or vegetable, because it is a change our customers have requested."

The new policy applies to permanent menu items only and does not cover promotional or seasonal items.

Those accessing the website or the pamphlets in the restaurants will find the sources of natural flavor listed as dairy, meat, or vegetable. The information will not include the actual ingredients.

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