McDonald's fries' flavor 'secret' shared on TikTok shocks customers: 'Bad news for vegetarians'
A TikTok content creator who prides himself on knowing "fast food secrets" has shared another viral video about McDonald’s, and this time it’s about the American restaurant chain’s "World Famous Fries."
Jordan Howlett, a self-employed social media director from San Diego, uploaded a video to TikTok claiming McDonald’s employees have asked him where he learns his fast food facts and if he knows of any other "secrets." This appears to have prompted Howlett's video about fries.
"I know why McDonald’s fries taste different from everybody else’s fries, and I’m gonna tell you guys today," Howlett said in his video, which he uploaded Friday for his millions of followers.
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"It’s because McDonald’s cooks their fries with beef flavoring mixed within their vegetable oil, right," Howlett continued. "So, that’s why the fries taste so good but also so different from everybody else’s."
French fries sit on a table at a McDonald's restaurant February 15, 2006 in Des Plaines, Illinois. (Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Howlett noted that the cooking method might be "bad news for vegetarians."
Fox News Digital reached out to McDonald’s and Howlett for comment.
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Marketing materials published by McDonald’s USA have long acknowledged that the fast food chain makes its fries with beef flavoring.
In a FAQ response webpage from March 2021, the chain restaurant confirmed that flavorings are added to its fries.
"When our suppliers partially fry our cut potatoes, they use an oil blend that contains beef flavoring," McDonald’s website states. "This ensures the great-tasting and recognizable flavor we all love from our World Famous Fries. The fries are cooked in our kitchens, seasoned with salt, and served hot to you."
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Allergen information noted on McDonald’s USA’s nutrition fact sheets have long disclosed that the fry oil’s "natural beef flavor" is made with hydrolyzed wheat and hydrolyzed milk.
Other notable ingredients that are used to make the brand’s fries include potatoes; a vegetable oil made from canola, corn and soybean oil; dextrose (a sugar substitute); and sodium acid pyrophosphate (an inorganic salt), which is used for color maintenance, according to McDonald’s.
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Howlett told his TikTok followers that McDonald’s Canada, McDonald’s U.K. and McDonald’s Australia don’t cook their World Famous Fries with beef flavoring, so there’s ordering potential for vegetarian customers who wish to consume McDonald’s fries.
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"They cook it with regular oil," he said in his video. "So, if you’re vegetarian, you can eat the fries at those places."
Marketing materials published by McDonald’s Canada, McDonald’s U.K. and McDonald’s Australia don’t list beef flavor as an ingredient or allergen on their World Famous Fries menu, but the corporate offices warn that suppliers may manufacture fries at facilities where common food allergens are also handled, such as eggs, milk, soy, tree nuts, wheat and other cereal grains containing gluten.
McDonald’s headquarters also warn that World Famous Fries may be cooked using the same oil or equipment as meat menu items, which means customers with dietary restrictions or severe allergies should take precautions before ordering.
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Howlett’s TikTok video about McDonald’s fries has been viewed more than 10.2 million times.
The video has also received over 1.5 million likes, over 103,800 shares, over 86,900 saves and more than 12,700 comments.
It appears that many of Howlett's followers weren’t aware that McDonald’s USA uses beef flavor in its fries, according to comments left under Howlett’s video.
"This makes me wonder what American McDonald’s fries taste like," one TikTok user wrote.
"Ok when I go on holidays I need to see the differences cause all I’ve been having is Aussie ones," another TikTok user wrote.
"If this is true I feel for all my Hindi friends that eat them," another commenter wrote.
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Some TikTok commenters wrote that Howlett’s fast food secret is common knowledge and has been long shared by McDonald’s kitchen employees, vegetarians who have strict non-meat diets and vegans who make sure they don’t purchase any product with animal byproducts.
Howlett currently has 9.1 million followers on his @Jordan_The_Stallion8 TikTok account.
In previous videos he’s shared, Howlett claims he started a group called the "Fast Food Secrets Club" in college, where he and a few friends discussed little-known fast food facts.