No, McDonald's french fries do not contain potatoes sprayed with a toxic pesticide called 'monitor'

By: Rajini KG
May 4 2023

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No, McDonald's french fries do not contain potatoes sprayed with a toxic pesticide called 'monitor'


The Verdict False

McDonald’s has clarified that its suppliers do not use this pesticide while growing potatoes. The pesticide has been banned since 2008.

Claim ID 9c46507b


A Facebook user has shared a video that has attained over 312,000 likes and 15 million views, claiming that potatoes sprayed with toxic chemicals are used to make McDonald's french fries is circulating on social media. The caption reads, "This is what they do to your fries/chips/potatoes in McDonald's to make them look perfect and as it's for mass consumption they have to abide to McDonald's demand." The video depicts well-known food writer Michael Pollan saying that McDonald's fries are made out of Russet Burbank potatoes that are sprayed with the pesticide called "Monitor" to remove bugs that could give potatoes blemishes, as such potatoes would not pass McDonald’s quality control. He continues, claiming that Monitor is such a dangerous pesticide that after spraying, farmers do not enter fields for five days. 

Monitor is the trade name of the pesticide methamidophos, an organophosphate pesticide used on commercial crops like cotton, potatoes, and tomatoes. It is limited in public buildings and is also known by other brand names, including Tamaron, Filitox, Tamanox, Tarn, and Patrole, among others. However, the claim made in this video is incorrect.

In Fact

A reverse image search revealed the video was filmed in 2013 when Pollan gave a speech on home cooking's impacts on life, health, and dependence on corporations at the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) in London, later uploaded to the RSA's YouTube channel on September 4, 2013. The viral extract starts at the 2:44 timestamp.

When the video first surfaced, McDonald's issued a statement on its website that suppliers do not use pesticides containing methamidophos while growing potatoes and that the substance has been prohibited in the European Union (EU) since 2008. They only use pesticides that are legally authorized by the EU.

Logically Facts accessed the EU Pesticides Database and found that methamidophos has been marked as a "Not Approved" active substance and that its authorization was withdrawn on July 1, 2008. Another EU report published on February 11, 2016, states that Regulation (EC) No. 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council prohibits the use of methamidophos as a component of mixtures operating as plant protection products, as well as the marketing of such combinations.

On September 23, 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency canceled the use, sale, and marketing of methamidophos. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is extremely poisonous to animals and causes nausea, vomiting, weakness, paralysis, and seizures in people when ingested. The Food and Agriculture Organization also reports that Kuwait banned this pesticide in 1980, and Indonesia unauthorized it in 1996.

Many fact-checking organizations have previously debunked this video, which went viral in 2021 and 2022, but it resurfaced in 2023.

The Verdict

Potato suppliers of McDonald's only use pesticides authorized by relevant authorities. The use of methamidophos has been banned in U.S. and European countries since 2009. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.


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