McDonald’s, which has previously claimed its French fries are free of gluten and milk or wheat allergens, added a warning in the nutritional information section of its website stating that fries contain wheat and milk ingredients.

The fastfood giant has downplayed the incident. Cathy Kapica, director of global nutrition at McDonald’s, said that the fries include a “natural flavouring” made, in part, from extracts of wheat and dairy products.

“Technically, there are no allergens in there and those who have eaten the product should be able to continue to do so without incident. If someone is really sensitive, they need to be aware that this product at one point derived from wheat and dairy,” she concluded.

Despite these reassurances, many allergy sufferers remain sceptical about McDonald’s seemingly contradictory message. 

“Are the fries safe for those with milk and wheat allergy or not?” asks Anne Munoz-Furlong, Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network CEO. “To say they contain these allergens, but one should continue to eat them is irresponsible. When doctors make a diagnosis, they advise strict avoidance of an allergen. The McDonald’s advice can potentially put children at risk. It promotes behaviour that ignores food labels. No company should put consumers in this type of situation where they are second-guessing the accuracy of ingredient information and potentially putting a life at risk.”

This labelling error comes hot on the heels of the revelation last Wednesday (8 February) that large fries in the US contain one-third more trans fats than had been labelled and 20% more total fat than listed.