Like most of us working people in the Philippines, we also want to eat a fast food meal or two in one of two very famous fast food chains in the country (hint:  this one is a foreign multinational fast food company while the other one is home-grown but already a global multinational fast food company!). This I noticed happens at the end of the month or during salary days (days where they pay your monthly or bi-monthly salaries).

Let’s call this global multinational food company “Fast food A”. It is a very successful chain of outlets based out of the U.S. and has a clown for a mascot ;).

You see hordes of families, couples, even groups of teenagers and even children trooping to Fast food A to buy one of their “Joyful meals” or just buy a sundae or apple pie.

Even though we know fast food has traditionally been tagged as not so healthy for kids, we are still horrified to know that aside from being high in fat, sodium, and sugar – which causes heart disease, obesity and diabetes – that it is also full of chemicals, toxic at that. And because Filipinos, unlike Americans, do not eat fast food at least once a week (8 out of 10 Americans reportedly eat fast food every month), we do not realize fast food’s unhealthy effects on the consuming population.

Here are 10 chemicals that are reportedly part of your regular burger, French fries and other Joyful meals:

Prescription Drugs

John Hopkins University researchers found surprising levels of banned, over-the-counter, and antidepressant drugs in chicken products and chicken food from fast food restaurants! Since Fast food A doesn’t use organic chicken, it is possible that those antibiotics and prescription medicines for chicken are found in Fast food A’s food products.


One thing that’s common with all Fast food A’s outlets globally is they all serve French fries. Which is bad by itself because French fries have unusual high quantities of acrylamide due to all that deep frying. This chemical compound is in Proposition 65 which is a list of chemicals known in the State of California which are considered to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity. Likewise, the National Toxicology Program considers acrylamide as a chemical “anticipated to be a human carcinogen”, meaning poisonous.

Silicone Oil

What is a non-biodegradable oil formerly used for breast implants doing in Fast food A’s chicken bits or French fries? Dimethylpolysiloxane, popularly known as silicone oil, is a synthetic material used to making contact lenses, silly putty, caulking, shampoos, conditioners, cosmetics, lubricants – that’s why you see it in breast implants too ;)! Except this one isn’t biodegradable.

Ammonium Sulfate

An inorganic salt commonly utilized in flame retardants and fertilizers, ammonium sulfate is also part of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. So it would be shocking to know that it’s part of Fast food A’s burger bun? This dangerous chemical can trigger health problems such as diarrhea, gastrointestinal irritations, nausea, and hormone disorders.


A food manufacturing secret is to add cellulose, a natural product from wood pulp, to almost any fast food item to add volume to it. But as nutritionists say, who would like to eat a lot of indigestible wood fibers in your meal? Cellulose is present in muffins, cheese, strawberry syrup, and salad dressing.


Tertiary butylhydroquinone or TBHQ is a known petroleum-based additive in 18 different menu items of Fast food A. As well as cosmetic products (what a multi-purpose additive it is – food and cosmetics!). So even when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cleared it as a chemical safe for human consumption, long-term use of this according to experts can generate stomach cancer, damaged DNA, worsening of ADHD symptoms, and even death!

Silicon Dioxide

Industrial sand in my burger meat sauce? Silicon dioxide, made up of silica or industrial sand, is used to manufacture glass, cement, and optical fibers. It is commonly used in the fast food industry. It serves as an additive to meats and sauces to keep them clunking together. With the US FDA clearing it as an “industrial chemical” to be added to your burger bun, I suppose it’s safe to eat? Especially in an industrial setting, laborers handling silicon dioxide have to wear hazmat suits and masks?


An amino acid made from human hair or duck feathers, Cysteine-L is used to flavor meat and soften pastries and bread. Consumption of cysteine-L has been connected to health problems. Like diarrhea, rashes, headaches, low blood pressure, vomiting, liver problems, constipation, fever, and drowsiness.

Carminic Acid

A red food dye created by cochineal beetles, carminic acid is usually added to fast food meats. That is to give them a more appealing and vibrant color. In 2009, the FDA declared cochineal extract, natural red 4, or carmine as “natural dyes”. However, the FDA requires manufacturers to identify this dye in product ingredients lists. It is because it was found that it causes serious allergic reactions in come individuals.

Propylene Glycol

Present in fast food, anti-freeze products, and e-cigarettes, propylene glycol may trigger some damage to your central nervous system. As well as exacerbate some food allergies as well as skin and eye conditions.

Convinced still to eat your favorite chicken bits or burger bun at Fast food A? Let us know your opinions on this in the comments below!

Image by jslander / CC BY 2.0