Are Grill’d burgers a better option than McDonald’s?

We recently visited Grill’d. A rare treat for our large family.

We chose Grill’d based on their values of having burgers that are ‘good for you”. Burgers that use quality and premium ingredients, and hence must be healthier for us.

Grill’d is all about being good, doing good and feeling good. For Grill’d this means sourcing good ingredients, having respect for the people who produce the food and the animals themselves, being mindful of sustainability and wastage and of course providing the pleasure and enjoyment of eating delicious tasting food.

I didn’t check the ingredients prior to visiting (I should have!)

Since visiting Grill’d, many members of my family presented with asthmatic symptoms (only those that dined at Grill’d) within 24-48 hours of dining there.

I had only just commented earlier in the week to Howard Dengate that we hadn’t suffered any asthma attacks in our house for 9 years. To then have multiple members come down with these symptoms at the same time was very unusual and suspicious.

I donned my detective cap and went straight to their website to search for the ingredients of the burgers and chips we had ordered.   Let’s examine the Grill’d Burgers that my family tried on our recent visit.

This is what I found:

Nourish and Flourish

Beef pattie
Beef mince, relish (diced tomato (50%), Sugar, Onions, Vinegar, Tomato Paste, Herbs and Spices, Salt, Thickener (1422), Food Acid (330), Firming agent (309), Salt, Parsley).

Low carb superbun
Water, free range whole egg, almond meal, coconut cream, tapioca flour, Psyllium Husk, Honey, Salt



Cos Lettuce

Dill pickles
Gherkins (53%), Water, Vinegar, Sugar, Salt, Dill (0.3%), Spices


Dijon Mustard
Mustard seeds (19%), Salt, vinegar, sugar, acetic acid (260), spices

Egg Mayo
Canola oil, Free range egg (14%), Vinegar, Mustard, Salt, Natural flavour, lemon juice, citric acid, spices, sugar, natural colour

Summer and Sunset

Beef pattie
Beef mince, relish (diced tomato (50%), Sugar, Onions, Vinegar, Tomato Paste, Herbs and Spices, Salt, Thickener (1422), Food Acid (330), Firming agent (309), Salt, Parsley).

Traditional bun
Water, wheat flour, wholemeal flour, wheat gluten, canola oil, iodised salt, sesame seeds, yeast

Pineapple, water, sugar



Pork (94%), Salt, Water, Mineral salts (451, 450), Sugar, Dextrose, Antioxidant (316), Preservative (250), Natural wood smoke

Tomato (46%), sugar, water, onion, apple cider vinegar, modified starch, salt, tomato paste (0.5%), mustard seed, citric acid, spices).


Herbed Mayo
Canola oil, free range egg (13%), sugar, mustard, vinegar, herbs (1.5%), salt, natural flavour, lemon juice, citric acid, pectin, spices, natural colour)


Beef mini me pack


(Potato (96%), Canola oil, Dextrose), (Australian cottonseed oil and Australian Oleic sunflower oil), Antioxidant 320)), Salt, Mixed Herbs.

Beef pattie
Beef mince, relish (diced tomato (50%), sugar, onions, vinegar, tomato paste, herbs and spices, salt, thickener (1422), Food acid (330), Firming agent (509), Slat, Parsley)

Mini bun
Wheat flour, water, salt, canola oil, yeast

Pasteurised mik, salt, cultures, enzyme (non-animal renett)

Tomato sauce
Concentrated tomatoes, sugar, salt, food acid (acetic acid), Spice extracts)

Our Famous Grill’d Chips
Potato (96%), Canola Oil, Dextrose), Australian cottonseed and Australian High Oleic Sunflower oil (Antioxidant (320)), Salt, Mixed Herbs.

That is a LOT of ingredients!

In my opinion, it is no wonder we had the reactions we did!!

I should mention that our family are not ‘true’ asthmatics.

As a child I was diagnosed as a ‘seasonal’ asthmatic. The reality was that I would have asthma attacks, yet the doctors couldn’t find all the other associated symptoms that would accompany a ‘true’ asthmatic, hence diagnosing me as a ‘seasonal’ asthmatic.

My first born son at the age of 2 had been diagnosed asthmatic. Once I put all the pieces together that food was impacting our health and behaviour he has never had an asthma attack again since we removed the additives, and neither have I!

It was very frightening to see many family members suffer these symptoms at the same time.

Bringing back all those early memories as a child, needing steroids and relievers and preventers. Late nights being with your child, debating whether they need to be taken to the hospital or not.

Which additives could have caused the asthmatic symptoms?

The reality is that there could have been any number of ingredients.

Ingredients such as vinegar, doesn’t state whether there are preservatives included. There are many ingredients listed above that are made of many ingredients that aren’t separately identified.

We don’t know all the ingredients in natural flavours….there could be anything in there!

We don’t know which natural colour was used.

We don’t know what is actually included in their herbs and spices.

We know that Sodium Nitrite (250) may cause asthma in sensitive individuals. ^

The biggest shock to me though was the Antioxidant that is being used in their chips.  Who doesn’t have chips when they go out for burgers?

How many parents have given chips to their young infant whilst out and about as one of their first takeaway foods? Thinking it is pretty good, just potatoes, oil and salt?

We know that in the Grill’d chips it contains Antioxidant (320) may cause asthma and a huge range of other symptoms (rashes, hives, fatigue, headache, insomnia, it is prohibited in food for infants) in sensitive individuals. ^

Do you know how many infants I saw eating these chips?!

These chips are included as part of the Kids range for Kids 7 and under!!

My family discussed what we had uncovered.

Linking our symptoms back to what we had eaten. We have a very clean diet, so it is easy for us to pinpoint things like this. Its nearly been a decade that we have been examining what we put into our bodies and we have become very good at being detectives!

My kids then posed the question, how do these Grill’d options compare to McDonald’s?

Donning the detective cap and magnifying glass we went exploring. To McDonald’s credit, they are also very transparent in disclosing their ingredients on their website.  Let’s take a look at a burger that we would choose if we were to eat at McDonald’s:

Quarter Pounder

Beef pattie
Beef (100%)

Quarter bun
Wheat flour, water, yeast, sugar, canola oil, sesame seeds, iodised salt, gluten (wheat), Bread improver (soy flour, mineral salts (170, 516), Malt flour (wheat), Dough conditioner (300), Enzymes (amylase, xlyanase), Preservative 282, Emulsifier (472e, 481, 471), Antioxidants (307, 304, 330), Enzymes (1101), Vitamines (thiamin and folate)

Cheese (milk, salt, culture, enzymes (rennet, lipase), water, milk solds, butter, emulsifiers (340,452,331), salt, acidity regulators (260, 330, 339), Colours (160b, 160c), Preservative (200), Soy lecithin

Water, Tomato paste, high fructose corn syrup, glucose corn syrup, vinegar, salt, flavouring

Cucumber, water, vinegar, salt, preservatives (202,211), flavour


Water, vinegar, mustard seed, salt, colour (100), Spice, Flavour

Happy Meal – Cheese burger

Regular bun
Wheat flour, water, yeast, sugar, canola oil, iodised salt, gluten (wheat), soy flour, Preservative 282, Emulsifier (471, 472e, 481), Malt flour, Mineral salt (170), Antioxidants (300, 304, 307, 330), Enzymes (1101), Vitamins (thiamin and folate)

Beef patty
Beef 100%

Cheese (milk, salt, culture, enzymes (rennet, lipase), water, milk solds, butter, emulsifiers (340,452,331), salt, acidity regulators (260, 330, 339), Colours (160b, 160c), Preservative (200), Soy lecithin

Water, Tomato paste, high fructose corn syrup, glucose corn syrup, vinegar, salt, flavouring

Cucumber, water, vinegar, salt, preservatives (202,211), flavour

Water, dehydrated white onion.

Water, vinegar, mustard seed, salt, colour (100), Spice, Flavour

Potato, Canola oil, Mineral Salt (450), Dextrose, Antifoam (1521)

Potatoes, canola oil (antioxidant 307), dextrose, mineral salt (450), Antifoam (secondary fatty alcohol, ethoxylated and propxylated)

Now most of these ingredients do not surprise me in the least.  I really believe in the saying you get what you pay for.

However, what did surprise me, immensely, is that the McDonald’s beef pattie, is 100% beef!!

Nothing else! It is an additive free pattie!

Who would have thought! My kids were very surprised!

I couldn’t say the same for their bun though or condiments though!!

If you look at the ingredients of the Grill’d bun it is amazing!

Now imagine this….  wouldn’t it be awesome if you could take your children out for a treat one night, without having to worry about whether the ingredients are going to set your children off behaviourally or with asthmatic symptoms, hives or rashes?

Surely it isn’t that inconceivable to think that the perfect burger is so hard to make?

The problem for manufacturers is they want their burgers to taste the best.

These manufacturers are competing with taste buds that have been overexcited to death and now do not recognise what real food tastes like anymore.

The thing is, that real food tastes AMAZING all on its own.

Imagine the perfect burger could be as simple as:

A Grill’d bun


a McDonald’s pattie


lots of fresh veges (salad, tomato)


quality tomato sauce and condiments (that are additive free).

Wouldn’t that be amazing! It really isn’t hard!

All it requires is a shift in focus.  A shift to health first, profits second.

In my discussions with Grill’d last week, they advised me that they could not be everything to everyone, that the use of additives can be seen as unhealthy for some and the confines of healthy varies for many.

The fact is, I chose to vote with my dollar at Grill’d as I believed in their values and using quality ingredients.

I walked away with numerous members of my family being sick.

One of the main reasons, in my opinion was the use of Antioxidant 320 which is prohibited in the use of foods for infants.

I was advised that my family was the first example that Grill’d had heard of involving asthma related symptoms.

Somehow I doubt this. The reality is that reactions such as ours are often delayed and most people do not make the connection to something they have consumed (especially if it is 24-48 hours ago).

I was encouraged to reach out to my health care professional to help identify the cause of the asthma symptoms.

In this instance, I didn’t need any assistance to identify the cause….it was plainly obvious to me.

I nearly needed health care professionals at the emergency department with my son though!

I know what the cause was for my family.

I urge you to take note of your family symptoms.

Make a connection between your symptoms and what you have eaten.

I believe Grill’d has a responsibility to stop using this Antioxidant 320 in their chips.  

The reason Grill’d uses it is because the Antioxidant 320 is in the oil as a stabiliser so that their fryers don’t foam up and bubble over, which is important in high temperature frying, otherwise posing a safety risk to everyone using them.  It also ensures the longevity of the oil.  This means that they can keep using the same oil for a lot longer and thereby reduce their costs (and increase profits).

I support Grill’d’s philosophy of using quality ingredients.

Grill’d have an amazing opportunity, to stand out in their field and truly sell the healthiest burgers around.  

We urge you to take that step Grill’d!!

We urge you to take the first step by removing Antioxidant 320 from your chips, which are prohibited for use in food for infants.

Comment below if you would love to see Grill’d remove additives from their menu or even to take the first step in removing Antioxidant 320 from their chips! 


^ Chemical Maze: Shopping companion – Bill Statham

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