by Jeanne Yacoubou, MS
VRG Research Director
Apparently in its quest to keep profits high in an economic recession and to attract customers who may frequent competitors for tasty beverages, McDonald's recently debuted an entire line of iced and hot beverages including iced coffees and teas, lattes, mochas, and frappes to add to its shakes and smoothies. Considering all the possible syrups, drizzles and milk choices, McDonald's now offers over fifty iced and hot beverages each available in three sizes.
According to the Ingredient Statement on its website, there are smoothies available that contain only non-animal ingredients such as the Strawberry Banana Smoothie without Yogurt and the Wild Berry Smoothie without Yogurt. McDonald's smoothies with yogurt contain "kosher gelatin."
All of the teas at McDonald's appear to be free of all animal products.
Iced Coffees (premium roast coffee) at McDonald’s may be ordered without cream or milk (whole or nonfat). All of the syrups (e.g., hazelnut, caramel, vanilla, and sugar free vanilla), optional as well, appear to be free of all animal ingredients.
The McCafe coffees (lattes, cappuccinos, and mochas, all made with espresso) may be ordered without milk products (whole or nonfat). The same syrups offered with the iced coffees are available with the McCafe coffees, too.
McDonald's mochas may be ordered without the whipped cream or the chocolate or caramel drizzles. The chocolate drizzle contains nonfat milk. The caramel drizzle contains condensed milk and butter. The chocolate syrup, optional in the mocha, appears to be all-vegetable.
The frappe base contains milk and cream. There are whipped cream and chocolate or caramel drizzles available that are optional on the frappes.
We asked two McDonald's customer service representatives, by email and phone, about the mono- and diglycerides in the whipped cream and in the frappe base. Jessica told us by email "that based on our supply chain and wide variety of ingredients, we cannot say with certainty that mono- and di-glycerides in the whipped cream are exclusively derived from a vegetable or an animal source." Paul repeated on the telephone the same response with respect to the mono- and diglycerides in the frappe base.
The VRG has recently asked several manufacturers of mono- and diglycerides about the most common commercial source(s) of these ingredients. The majority opinion is that most mono- and diglycerides today (over 80%) are derived from plant sources.
In recent years, McDonald's has been noting more frequently in its Ingredient Statement the sources of several ingredients. This information may not yet be provided about mono- and diglycerides in the McDonald's Ingredients Statement because mono- and diglycerides are not considered potential allergens by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Thus, suppliers are not required to list their sources and may not do so. Also, as McDonald's states, suppliers change and may vary from region to region, complicating a source listing.