McDonald’s USA has begun rolling out new burgers – for improved taste. But consumers with legume allergies should be aware that the brand’s new “pillowy buns” do use pea protein.
Allergy research shows that a majority of people with allergies to peanuts or soyabeans can eat other beans or peas without issue. But there are a minority who do cross-react to some other legumes, such as yellow peas. (Yellow peas are usually used in “pea protein”).
McDonald’s USA told Allergic Living:
“Our new, softer buns include pea protein, which is used in the glaze applied to the top of the buns for our Big Mac sandwich, McDouble burger and our classic Cheeseburger, Double Cheeseburger and Hamburger. The buns are part of the changes to our classic burgers that have begun rolling out to restaurants on the west coast and will continue to be rollout out throughout the year.”
On McDonald’s website, under Nutrition information for individual menu items, the burger bun are shown to include the following.
Ingredients: enriched wheat flour, water, sugar, yeast, vegetable oil (canola and/or soy), vegetable protein (pea, potato, faba bean), sunflower oil, corn dextrose, corn starch, corn maltodextrin, sesame seeds, salt, may contain any or all in varying proportions: wheat gluten, potato starch, dough conditioners (DATEM, ascorbic acid, enzymes), natural flavour, corn maltodextrin, corn starch, vinegar.
The same bun ingredients are listed for the chicken and fish sandwiches. The company said in a statement: “We encourage our customers with food allergies or special dietary needs to visit www.mcdonalds.com for ingredient information for all our menu items.
What About Peanut Allergy and Pea Protein?
So, when should you be concerned about pea protein allergy? Allergic Living previously took a question on pea protein in vegan burgers to allergist Dr. Scott Sicherer. The director of the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai in New York, related the following points.
• 95 percent of people with peanut allergy tolerate other legumes. (Even though most will have positive skin or blood tests to multiple beans).
• An allergy to pea protein will depend on an individual patient’s history.
• If a person with peanut allergy, for instance, had a reaction to other legumes, Sicherer says: “I may become suspicious of other beans that I call ‘potent’ ones. These are: lupine, chickpea, lentil, yellow (dun) pea, green pea and soy.”
• With bean or legume allergy: “we don’t see it as often for other types – black beans, white, kidney, lima, green, etc.”
If a child or adult is showing signs of reacting to yellow pea, Sicherer suggests visiting your allergist. See his full discussion of pea and bean allergies here.
In its press release on menu updates, McDonald’s also notes that white onions will be added to burgers while they’re grilling. While this is meant to improve taste, those with an onion allergy need to be aware of the new cooking practice.
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