You Should Never Order A Salad At McDonald's. Here's Why

Does anyone really hit McDonald's in search of health food? We hope not, but those who think they're choosing a wellness-optimizing option by ordering from the burger chain's salad menu have a reality check in store. Remember that kale-infused Keep Calm, Caesar On salad that, back in 2016, CNBC reported to outdo the Double Big Mac in terms of nutritional content — and not in a good way? And who could forget the great McDonald's salad scare of 2018? Sure, McDonald's is used to being at the center of some controversy, but there's probably good reason this chain has stripped its salad selection down to five (pretty darn basic) choices.

McDonald's salads have been scrutinized for their nutritional content

On the McDonald's salad shortlist, its online nutrition calculator denotes the most calorific option as the Southwest Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Salad — with dressing, packing 640 calories and 36 grams of fat (almost half of the daily recommended intake). Not surprisingly, the small fry (so to speak) of the bunch is the least offensive: The side salad, if dressed with a low-fat vinaigrette, can be consumed for as little as 50 calories. But a Reader's Digest article also took issue with the incredible sodium contents that spring from McDonald's salads, such as the whopping 1,480 milligrams in the Bacon Ranch Salad with Buttermilk Crispy Chicken, thanks to ingredients like "highly seasoned chicken," cheese, bacon, and dressings. Too much salt intake, warns Southern Living, can lead to effects both short-term (bloating) and long-term (high blood pressure, which can increase the risk of heart disease and strokes). Carb counts can soar, too, as Reader's Digest pointed out the Southwest Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Salad, with its tortilla strips, chicken breading, and sugar-laden Cilantro Lime Glaze, offers up the equivalent of three bread slices.

The McDonald's salad supply chain has been compromised in the past

In July 2018, the CDC issued a notice to the public that it was investigating the link between McDonald's salads and cases of infections related to Cyclospora, a microscopic parasite. By August, CBS News reported that the illness had touched down in 15 states, affecting 507 people, including 24 hospitalizations. The bacteria was traced to one of the McDonald's lettuce suppliers, Fresh Express, but lawsuits against the fast-food chain emerged in a flash (via Cooking Light). Still, supply issues aside, fast-food's faux-health kick in the 2010s had already been deemed an epic failure by insiders, as salads made up only two to three percent of sales by 2013 (via Forbes). It turns out that customers aren't hitting the Mickey D's drive-thru for healthy options after all.