Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • This is a Big Mac.

  • And this is everything that's in a Big Mac.

  • Welcome to Fast Food Chemistry.

  • Now, I've been desperate to try

  • an authentic American Big Mac,

  • but unfortunately there's no way

  • I can get my hands on one in the UK.

  • The simple solution was to get ahold of

  • every ingredient which goes into one --

  • there are over 50 --

  • and then to build one myself.

  • Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.

  • You're not making a US Big Mac without me.

  • I'm going to oversee this whole operation

  • to see how close you actually get.

  • What I love about this show is that it combines

  • all the things I love about making Food Wars,

  • and also I do literally nothing.

  • So I am a fan of this format.

  • I've always wanted to say this,

  • but please do not try this one at home.

  • This one right here is alum.

  • This is potassium aluminium sulfate,

  • and it's primarily used in things like

  • leather tanning and dyeing and in fireproofing textiles.

  • It's pretty strong stuff.

  • For example, if you boil some of this,

  • it can actually dissolve steel in just a few hours.

  • OK, we're one chemical in

  • and already we're talking about dissolving steel,

  • did he say?

  • Um, no.

  • Harry, please be careful.

  • Put on some gloves for God's sakes.

  • This one right here is soy lecithin.

  • You've probably heard my Food Wars cohost,

  • Joe, mispronounce this one a million times.

  • Lechithin.

  • Leckithin.

  • Lecithin.

  • Leckithin.

  • Lechithin.

  • Leechithin.

  • Soy lecithin.

  • It's a lubricant and an emulsifier.

  • It's considered safe for consumption,

  • but there have been some preliminary studies

  • to suggest that overconsumption may promote depression,

  • which is kind of the last thing I need.

  • But what exactly do we mean by emulsifier?

  • Well, as we all know, oil and water don't usually mix.

  • An emulsifier is something

  • which helps you get around that problem.

  • In the Big Mac it's used in the cheese and the sauce,

  • just to kind of help everything stay together.

  • And finally we have polysorbate 80,

  • otherwise known as polyoxyethylene sorbitan monooleate,

  • or the more catchy "tween."

  • Now this might come in a handy applesauce-style pouch,

  • but it's probably our most controversial chemical here.

  • Studies have shown that it can lead to an increase

  • in colon cancer and infertility in mice.

  • It's not a guarantee to say that it will

  • do the same to humans, but it's probably not the best sign.

  • OK, oh Jesus.

  • Slice, ugh.

  • Pasteurized American cheese.

  • Ingredients are milk, cream, water,

  • sodium citrate, salt, cheese cultures,

  • citric acid, enzymes, soy lecithin, and colors added.

  • Get a load of this guy right here.

  • This one's a little tricky.

  • We don't have an exact recipe

  • for the pasteurized processed American cheese

  • which McDonald's uses in the States.

  • What we did find are the FDA requirements

  • for processed cheese.

  • Now to meet the legal definition of American cheese,

  • it must be made of cheddar, colby,

  • granular, or washed curd cheese.

  • We're choosing to go with a mild cheddar

  • because it already kind of tastes similar

  • to the Big Mac cheeses that I've had in the past.

  • From the ingredients list,

  • we can see the ones that belong to the cheese

  • and the ones which are added at a later stage.

  • The cheese itself is basically just made of milk,

  • salt, cultures, and enzymes.

  • Whereas later on, you will add the sodium citrate

  • as an emulsifying agent,

  • the citric acid as an acidifying agent,

  • and the soy lecithin as an anti-sticking agent.

  • The FDA requirements also specify how much of each of these

  • you're allowed to have in the finished cheese.

  • For example, we know that the soy lecithin

  • can only be 0.03% of the finished weight.

  • I think it's chemical time.

  • The chemicals have changed the consistency

  • of the cheese almost immediately.

  • It's gone from what was a very liquidy melted cheddar

  • with some cream in it to like, a very shiny-looking,

  • almost like a squeezy cheese.

  • And last but not least, the color.

  • That's good.

  • So in a relatively short space of time

  • we've turned this cheddar, which is quite a firm,

  • inflexible, very pale cheese,

  • into this classic American cheese.

  • It's amazing how little sodium citrate it took

  • and how quickly the change took effect.

  • Honestly, it was a tiny amount,

  • and as soon as it was sprinkled in,

  • made a whole world of difference.

  • Obviously it looks like American cheese,

  • but this is how we test if this is real,

  • authentic American cheese.

  • Ready?

  • Let's check it out.

  • Damn it, I was hoping it would stick.

  • Let's see if our cheese passes the test.

  • The pickle slices at an American McDonald's

  • contain cucumbers, water, distilled vinegar,

  • salt, calcium chloride, alum,

  • potassium sorbate as a preservative, natural flavors,

  • polysorbate 80, extractives of turmeric for color.

  • Ugh.

  • Now some of these chemicals

  • can actually be quite dangerous.

  • Calcium chloride can lead to burns in the mouth and throat,

  • excess thirst, vomiting, stomach pain,

  • and low blood pressure.

  • So I'm going to put some gloves on.

  • Now, despite its potential dangers,

  • calcium chloride is actually a great way

  • to improve the saltiness in food

  • without increasing the sodium content.

  • Alum is one that we've mentioned before.

  • And apparently this improves the crunchiness of pickles.

  • Potassium sorbate, as it says on the label,

  • is a mold inhibitor,

  • which will get the pickles a longer shelf life.

  • And finally, we have polysorbate 80.

  • Now this is an emulsifier which will thicken liquids.

  • However, it is also the one that gives mice cancer.

  • It's forming like, can you see this?

  • It's forming crystals, like stalactites.

  • Oh, it's like, solidifying or something right now.

  • What is happening?

  • Get away from it.

  • I feel like I'm watching someone making an explosive.

  • I just, the way he's shaking it, it's like,

  • gah, it's going to explode.

  • Looks like this is the first time

  • Harry's ever cut a cucumber.

  • Still quite lumpy.

  • The Big Mac bun in the US contains

  • the following ingredients: enriched flour,

  • which is ...

  • and diglycerides, enzymes, and vinegar.

  • We'll start with the flour.

  • This is British white bread flour,

  • which contains wheat flour,

  • calcium carbonate, iron, niacin, and thiamin.

  • So we're missing the malted barley flour,

  • the riboflavin, and the folic acid.

  • None of these are too suspect.

  • Malted barley flour contains enzymes

  • that break down starch to sugar,

  • and riboflavin and folic acid

  • are actually just vitamins B2 and B9.

  • So let's fortify our flour.

  • The only way to actually get the extra ingredients

  • that we needed was in vitamin form.

  • So we've got some folic acid

  • and some riboflavin tablets here.

  • It's like a pregnancy supplement.

  • You're supposed to take them