McDonald's french fries are NOT gluten free

Added on 15 Feb, 2006 . There are .

The fast food giant McDonald's has now said its fries are not wheat or gluten free despite their website, until Monday of this week, stating that they were. As a result of the new food allergen licensing laws that came into effect this January, they have been forced to acknowledge that wheat and dairy ingredients are used to flavour the fries.

This acknowledgement, posted on the McDonald's website food nutrition list has infuriated consumers who rely on following a gluten free diet to main health.

Until now french fries had been thought to be one of the few "safe" items on their menu, however on Monday McDonald's owned up that a flavouring agent in the cooking oil used to make its fries is derived from wheat and dairy ingredients.

According to Dr. Stefano Guandalini, a pediatric gastroenterologist with the University of Chicago's Celiac Disease Program, this disclosure doesn't automatically put McDonald's fries on the forbidden list. "When you process the ingredients such as wheat in order to derive flavoring, you leave the gluten behind," he explained. "We have never found any evidence that eating french fries is a problem."

However while this may or may not be acceptable for those suffering a gluten allergy, those suffering a wheat allergy still have the presence of wheat in the product.

Last week McDonald's also acknowledged that their french fries contained more trans fats than they had previously reported, again as a consequence of the new labelling laws from the Food and Drug Administration.

This follow-up admission could bring into doubt the honesty of McDonald's nutrition data on their website.

A McDonald's spokesman said: "It's important to note that the oil, cooking process and ingredients in our french fries have not changed".

This news has angered wheat & gluten allergy sufferers, including parents of children with food allergies who already have a difficult enough task getting their food allergy suffering children through the day without an allergic reaction. Birthday parties, sleepovers, field trips and other activities are already a minefield where food allergies exist, and now another item has been removed from the McDonald's menu, leaving nothing other than ketchup, some other sauces, salt, side salad, jam, some selected desserts and most drinks labelled as wheat or gluten free.

The new labelling law requires the packaged foods industry to report all common allergens, such as wheat, milk, eggs, fish, shellfish or peanuts, however as a restaurant operator McDonald's does not have to comply, but is doing so voluntarily.