Parents of children with food allergies often share tips about safe foods, allergy-friendly restaurants, and other experiences and challenges of dealing with food allergies. Have you heard about kids with severe food allergies who are able to eat McDonald’s french fries without experiencing a reaction? For parents accustomed to skipping fast food because of the myriad of mystery ingredients that might touch off an allergic reaction, this often comes as a surprise.

If you’ve struggled to find food allergy safe food on the go, you may be wondering if McDonald’s may really be the answer. What’s in those fries, and why are some people with severe allergies able to eat them?

According to the McDonalds website, their french fries contain the following ingredients: “Potatoes, vegetable oil (canola oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, natural beef flavor [wheat and milk derivatives]*, citric acid [preservative]), dextrose, sodium acid pyrophosphate (maintain color), salt. Prepared in vegetable oil (Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness). Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent. CONTAINS: WHEAT AND MILK. *(Natural beef flavor contains hydrolyzed wheat and hydrolyzed milk as starting ingredients).”

That ‘contains wheat and milk’ statement is enough to make many people with food allergies stay far away from them. Yet some people with exactly these allergies are able to eat them without an allergic reaction. How is that possible? Research has shown that because the wheat and milk are hydrolyzed (broken down into their component amino acids), they are safe for those with allergies because the proteins are no longer intact.

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