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If you think that popular fast food items like McDonalds and Subway are created equal in every country, you are wrong. In the US for example, many of these items actually have a much greater potential to be harmful because there are a lot of ingredients that are used in American fast food that are actually BANNED in the United Kingdom and most of Europe!

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Hmmm… if something is banned from even one other country, shouldn’t that be enough to at least look into why that country felt strongly enough about a certain chemical *cough* -ingredient to ban it entirely? Why the double standard?

Let’s have a look at McDonald’s French Fries and the difference between the fries sold in the United States and the United Kingdom. In the UK, the fries are not cooked in an oil that contains TBHQ (which is a derivative of butane gas) or a chemical called dimethylpolysiloxane which is an anti-foaming agent. Upon a quick search I discovered that in Canada the fries do not contain TBHQ, but they do contain dimethylpolysiloxane. Just have a look at this chart put together by Food Babe.


In fact, there are many popular food items that fast food chains carry in the United States that simply do not even exist in other countries. In no way am I saying that fast food restaurants are healthy in other countries or anything, but they certainly take at least a bit more of a health conscious approach than their American counterparts.

The biggest difference to notice about the fast food in the UK compared with the fast food in the US is that the UK versions contain astronomically less sugar than the versions that are served up in the US. Here are some examples of five fast food restaurants that are serving up much more sugar in the US:

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McDonald’s Chocolate Shake

McDonald’s cup sizes are definitely larger in the US. In the UK a large chocolate shake would be the same as a medium chocolate shake in the US.  If you buy a large chocolate shake you are getting 22oz. and with whipped cream that contains a whopping 120 grams of sugar! (If you are unsure of just how much sugar that is compared with the maximum amounts we should be consuming check out this link to learn more about that.) The same version in the UK contains 67 grams of sugar, which is still A LOT, but it is much less than what is served up in America. Ounce for ounce, the US version of the chocolate shake without whipped cream contains 33% more sugar than the UK version.

Large Pizza Hut Pepperoni Lovers /Pepperoni Feast Thin Crust Pizza

Overall, I wouldn’t even think of a pizza as sweet, and I don’t think most people would. Here in Canada an entire large pizza would contain only 8 grams of sugar. In the United Kingdom the pizza contains 16 grams. By the way, the Pizza Hut Lunch Buffet in both the UK and Canada offers an unlimited salad bar, which is nowhere to be seen in the United States. This same pizza in the US contains a whopping 40 grams of sugar, that is 151% more sugar than the UK version!

6” Subway Turkey & Ham Sandwich On 9-Grain Bread With Lettuce, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Green Peppers and Onions

This sandwich isn’t exactly loaded with sugar, but still the United States version contains 56% more sugar (8 grams) versus the exact same sandwich in the UK (5.4 grams of sugar).

Starbucks “Venti” Pumpkin Spice Latte

Of course, you guessed it. The US version has 58% more sugar than the UK version. In fact, a “tall” (small) latte in the US has almost the same amount of sugar as the “venti” (large) in the UK.


Krispy Kreme Glazed Donut

You would definitely expect these donuts to have a lot of sugar –in any country around the world. But, did you know, the donuts served in the US are smaller than the ones served in the UK and have 52% more sugar? The smaller US donut has 10 grams of sugar versus 7 grams in the larger UK donut. Surprisingly the Canadian version has even more sugar, ringing in at 11 grams.


Photo courtesy of FoodBabe

So, Why The Double Standard?

Well, in regards to the United Kingdom, restaurants are required by law to let its consumer know if any of their food contains genetically modified ingredients (GMOs) with a clear warning on the menu. Apparently in the UK GMO ingredients are a potential hazard to human health, good thing they recognize this. If they don’t use any GMO ingredients then they can avoid this obligation altogether and in doing so, be more appealing to the consumer.

One of the most popular GMO crops in the world is the sugar beet. Yes, the majority of the sugar sold in the United States comes from a beet and not sugar cane, who knew? Another one of the top GMO crops, actually the number one GMO crop in the US is corn, which is where all of the high fructose corn syrup comes from and is what accounts for a huge chunk of the added sugars in the foods previously mentioned. According to Ken Roseboro of the Non-GMO Sourcebook, non-GMO ingredients can cost the food manufacturers 25% to 50% more. So naturally, the food producers in the US would pick the cheaper option, they have no obligation to do otherwise, as clearly human health is of no concern to them.

It’s All Coming Together

Now it’s easy to see why huge corporations in America are spending millions of dollars against GMO labeling. They know that if the consumer knew exactly what they were consuming that they may think twice before doing so and even stop altogether. This would drive up production costs. The food manufacturers in the United Kingdom know this, which is why you’ll hardly see a GMO warning label anywhere, they simply do not use GMO’s because they know the consumer does not want to eat GMOs. This does cost them more money so in turn, to keep costs down, they simply use less sugar! In turn they are appealing to a larger market that actually benefits human health in the long run.

There is no mandatory GMO labelling in Canada either. So what can we do? Vote with your dollars! Let these companies know that unless they label their food or quit using GMOs you will no longer support their business. If enough people jumped on this train GMOs would be eliminated in no time. Knowledge is power!

Much Love


Article adapted from

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