Last fall, the fast-food chain Wendy’s introduced its Natural Cut Fries With Sea Salt, promoting them with ads pointing to the more natural look (they leave the potato skins on) and the better tasting product. But, as it turns out, the product is anything but natural.
The name itself is the giveaway: natural cut? That doesn’t actually tell consumers the product ingredients are natural, but it’s easy to be misled into thinking that’s what Wendy’s means. The fries undergo several unnatural treatments, including being sprayed with a chemical called sodium acid pyrophosphate, which prevents the potatoes from turning brown in the two deep frying sessions they go through—once at the factory and then again at the restaurant.
Although they’re called “Natural Cut Fries With Sea Salt” the name could actually read: “Natural Cut Fries With Sea Salt, Dextrose and Dimethylpolysiloxane.” Dextrose is a corn derived sugar coating added to the fries to help retain color, and dimethylpolysiloxane is a silicone-based chemical food additive that stabilizes the frying oil, which would otherwise become foamy after repeated fries.
The deception doesn’t stop at the chemicals added to the fries. John Keeling of the National Potato Council told Yahoo that Wendy’s highlights its use of “100% Russet potatoes,” but that virtually “all processed French Fries are Russets.” And, as Americans seek ways of reducing sodium intake, Wendy’s Natural Cut Fries also contain more sodium than their original fries, up by more than 40 percent to 500 milligrams in a medium size serving.
Whether it is the appearance of Wendy’s Natural Cut Fries With Sea Salt that make them seem healthier, or the actual taste, a third party research firm concluded in a national taste test that 56 percent of people polled preferred Wendy’s fries versus 39 percent who favored McDonald’s.
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