The ingredients of McDonald’s restaurant food have been the subject of bogus claims in social media posts in recent years. In April, posts falsely claimed the fast-food chain includes xylitol, which is toxic to dogs, in its ice cream. The company told us xylitol is not used in its food, and the sweetener isn’t listed as an ingredient on McDonald’s website.
McDonald’s has been the target of many viral rumors and urban legends over the years. Most recently, the fast-food chain has been targeted by social media posts that falsely claim the company’s soft serve ice cream includes xylitol, a sugar alcohol that is toxic to dogs.
One post, which has been shared 1,300 times, warns readers, “Protect your pets, don’t buy ice cream from MCDonalds.”
Another user shared a screenshot that reads, “Just so everyone knows. McDonalds ice cream has xylitol sugar in it. Don’t feed any of their ice cream to your pets. Xylitol sugar is toxic to dogs and will kill them in an hour.” This version of the post received more than 800 shares since April 11.
Xylitol, while safe for humans, can indeed be harmful or even deadly for dogs. The Food and Drug Administration has warned pet owners to keep their dogs away from products containing the sugar substitute.
“When dogs eat something containing xylitol, the xylitol is more quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, and may result in a potent release of insulin from the pancreas,” the FDA said in a post that explains why the sugar substitute is “life-threatening” for pets, but isn’t dangerous for humans. “This rapid release of insulin may result in a rapid and profound decrease in the level of blood sugar (hypoglycemia), an effect that can occur within 10 to 60 minutes of eating the xylitol.”
But it’s not true that McDonald’s uses xylitol in its ice cream.
McDonald’s USA confirmed in an April 15 email to FactCheck.org that its soft serve, found in ice cream cones and other desserts, does not contain the sweetener. None of the desserts on the company’s website contain xylitol in their ingredients list.
Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here. Facebook has no control over our editorial content.
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Food and Drug Administration. “Paws Off Xylitol; It’s Dangerous for Dogs.” 7 Jul 2021.
McDonald’s USA. Email from McDonald’s spokesperson to FactCheck.org. 15 Apr 2022.
McDonald’s.com. “Desserts & Shakes.” Accessed 15 Apr 2022.
McDonald’s.com. “Response to myth that McDonald’s burgers do not decompose.” 31 Aug 2020.
Swenson, Ali. “False claim of human meat in McDonald’s factories stems from old hoax.” Snopes. 24 Aug 2020.