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November 11, 2008

Study: corn present in most fast food

Found this one on Wired Science:

"That the $100-billion fast food industry rests on a foundation of corn has been known more through inference and observation than hard scientific fact — until now.

Chemical analysis from restaurants across the United States shows that nearly every cow or chicken used in fast food is raised on a diet of corn, prompting fresh criticism of the government's role in subsidizing poor eating habits. "

Here's an abstract for the study that provided the chemical analysis:

Carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes in fast food: Signatures of corn and confinement,
A. Hope Jahren and Rebecca A. Kraft

Americans spend >100 billion dollars on restaurant fast food each year; fast food meals comprise a disproportionate amount of both meat and calories within the U.S. diet. We used carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes to infer the source of feed to meat animals, the source of fat within fries, and the extent of fertilization and confinement inherent to production. We sampled food from McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's chains, purchasing >480 servings of hamburgers, chicken sandwiches and fries within geographically distributed U.S. cities: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Detroit, Boston, and Baltimore. From the entire sample set of beef and chicken, only 12 servings of beef had δ13C < −21‰; for these animals only was a food source other than corn possible. We observed remarkably invariant values of δ15N in both beef and chicken, reflecting uniform confinement and exposure to heavily fertilized feed for all animals. The δ13C value of fries differed significantly among restaurants indicating that the chains used different protocols for deep-frying: Wendy's clearly used only corn oil, whereas McDonald's and Burger King favored other vegetable oils; this differed from ingredient reports. Our results highlighted the overwhelming importance of corn agriculture within virtually every aspect of fast food manufacture.

November 11, 2008 in Scientific studies | Permalink

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