Posted on: May 19, 2016 at 12:47 pm
Last updated: August 3, 2019 at 1:28 pm

During another examination of exactly what goes into McDonald’s french fries, it has been discovered all of their fries are sprayed down with a pesticide that is so toxic that they can’t be eaten for up to six weeks after being sprayed.


This information came shortly after it was discovered that the ingredients in McDonald’s french fries included brain-damaging and cancer-causing substances. The discovery of this very toxic pesticide use provides us with a whole new reason to avoid McDonald’s.

Pesticides In McDonald’s Fries

mcdonalds fries pesticide, methamidophos


This information was revealed by Michael Pollan, an author, journalist, activist and professor of journalism at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.

He explains the process through which McDonald’s fries are cultivated, and how everything down to the choice of potato they use determines their use of toxic pesticides.

According to Pollan, McDonald’s only uses one specific type of potato for all of their french fries, and that is the Russet Burbank potato. He says that they are used due to their long, thin shape, which gives the McDonald’s fries their signature look.

“They’re always made from the same potato, the Russet Burbank potato…(it’s) unusually long, and difficult to grow,” explains Pollan. “But that’s what they want because, when you’re McDonald’s, you like those red boxes with a little bouquet or very long chips.”


Pollan continues to explain that the reason McDonald’s french fries are doused in such a toxic pesticide is due to the fact that they are so difficult to grow.

“There’s a very common defect of Russet Burbank potatoes, called net necrosis, and you’ve seen potatoes with little brown lines sometimes or spots that come through it,” Pollan says. “Well McDonald’s won’t buy them if your potatoes have that.”

According to Pollan, the reason behind this difficulty is due to the fact that they are often slightly blemished due to aphids, something which McDonald’s will not accept. This is when the use of pesticides comes into play.

“The only way to eliminate (net necrosis) is to eliminate an aphid,” Pollan explains further. “And the only way to do that is with a pesticide called Monitor that is so toxic that the farmers that grow these potatoes in Idaho won’t venture outside into their fields for five days after they spray.”

Pollan continues to explain how the toxic properties of these pesticides linger in the fries for weeks after they are initially applied.

“When they harvest they have to put them in these atmosphere-controlled sheds the size of a football stadium because they are not edible for six weeks,” Pollan says. “They have to off-gas all of the chemicals in them.”

Here is the full video of Pollan’s presentation:

Monitor Pesticide Side Effects

The Monitor pesticide, otherwise known as methamidophos, has been associated with a variety of side effects, and there have been many reports of poisoning due to exposure to the pesticide. These include cases of poisoning that occurred in workers handling the pesticide, as well as in individuals who consumed food previously doused with it.

Symptoms of methamidophos poisoning include:

  • Lung irritation
  • Bloody or runny nose
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Numbness or weakness
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of reflexes
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Coma
  • Death

Overall, this just adds to the growing list of reason to avoid McDonald’s. For more reasons why you should stay away from fast food chains, click here.
You can watch exactly how McDonald’s manufactures their french fries and plunges them into a chemical bath in this video:

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