Eggs help you stay healthy—and even lose weight! But it turns out not all eggs are what they’re cracked up to be. When you get a breakfast sandwich from a fast food spot, there’s a pretty good chance that “egg” is a blend of eggs and something else.
Panera Bread was recently developing its lineup of breakfast sandwiches and discovered that the FDA didn’t exactly define what an “egg” was. The loose definition of one of our favorite kitchen staples meant a restaurant could include added flavors, xanthan gum and added color to anything listed with “egg” as an ingredient. Don’t forget these 9 foods nutritionists never order at fast-food restaurants.
Pro tip: Luckily, you won’t run into this fake-egg problem with the cartons you’d at the grocery store—but be sure to follow our egg buying guide to get the best pick.
What’s in popular fast food eggs
Panera did some research and found that 50% of the top 10 fast food restaurants that sell breakfast have an “egg” made of at least five ingredients. To confirm, we did some research of our own! Here’s a look at the ingredients in popular fast food breakfasts:
McDonald’s: The classic Egg McMuffin is made with a real egg.
Taco Bell: The Breakfast Crunchwrap and Grande Scrambler Burrito, among others, are made with an egg blend that includes whole eggs as well as soybean oil, salt, citric acid, pepper, xanthan gum and guar gum.
Panera Bread: The Bacon, Egg & Cheese and most of the chain’s other breakfasts are made with a real egg.
Chick-fil-A: The scrambled egg in the Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit is made with whole eggs and water plus salt, natural butter type flavor [medium chain triglycerides, coconut oil, natural flavors], xanthan gum, citric acid, and annatto.
Dunkin’ Donuts: The Bacon, Egg & Cheese Sandwich uses a blend of egg whites, egg yolks, soybean oil, and water.
We’re not going to stop eating at restaurants like Chick-fil-A—they have a secret menu!—but it does make us love Panera and McDonald’s even more than before.
Is this healthy?
Well, it’s always best to build your diet around whole, unprocessed foods. You want to know exactly what you’re eating, even when you’re on the go. (That’s at the heart of clean eating and plans like Whole 30.) It’s OK to splurge on a breakfast sandwich every now and then, but you can always make a copycat at home—with a freshly cracked egg! Check out these other secrets your fast-food worker won’t tell you.