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Shake Shack’s ingredients are a mile long! Is it really the healthier fast food?

Shake Shack announced they’re giving away their antibiotic-free chicken sandwiches for FREE every Sunday this month, which is a pretty brilliant marketing move… taking a jab at Chick-fil-A who just went back to using antibiotics in their chicken. 

But Wait!!

Before you run down to Shake Shack this Sunday to grab your free chicken sandwich, there’s something you need to know.

Shake Shack doesn’t publish their ingredient lists online, which makes it difficult to know what you are really eating. I’ve tried to get their ingredients in the past, and they refused to disclose them to me… but now I’m happy to report that I’ve got Shake Shack’s ingredients for their burgers, sandwiches, fries, and shakes in my hot little hands. 

I hate to pick on one of the few restaurants who are serving antibiotic-free meats, but when I saw Shake Shack’s ingredients, there was no way I could keep them to myself.

And let me tell you, I think they should feel ashamed using so many processed ingredients especially with a slogan like “Stand For Something Good”.

Shake Shack doesn’t use hormones or antibiotics in their meat, which is great, but don’t assume that means they use good ingredients in their menu items. 

They say, “Food is at the center of what we do. We’re committed to sourcing real, premium ingredients to deliver menu items our guests crave and can feel good about eating. Guided by our vision of quality and food safety, our culinary team continues to craft high-quality menu items, surprising and delighting guests with innovative recipes.”  (1)

Is that true?

Well, now you can see for yourself:

Watch out for these processed ingredients at Shake Shack:

AUTOLYZED YEAST EXTRACT: Shake Shack may not use MSG (monosodium glutamate) but they do use this hidden form of MSG. It is purely used to increase food cravings and irresistibility, so you can’t stop eating. (2)

NATURAL FLAVORS: Besides the hidden MSG to get you hooked, Shake Shack uses 5 different “natural flavors” in their chicken sandwich. You’ll find them in their buttermilk and butter, along with natural onion flavor, natural garlic flavor, and capsicum flavoring in their chicken. These natural flavors are proprietary mixtures made in lab, designed to make food taste irresistible so that you keep coming back for more. It is very similar to MSG. No wonder their sandwiches taste irresistible! (2)

TBHQ: You’ll find this preservative in the fryer oil at Shake Shack. It may harm the immune system and increase the risk of food allergies. (2)

DIMETHYLPOLYSILOXANE (aka Silly Putty): This is an anti-foaming ingredient used in the fryers at Shake Shack. Funny that other restaurant fryers seem to work just fine without this ingredient. Besides being the main ingredient in Silly Putty, it was used as a filler fluid in breast implants until it was phased out due to safety concerns. This ingredient was deemed unsafe to put into our bodies, but we are supposed to eat it? (2)

DATEM & MONO AND DIGLYCERIDES: Contains trans fat which is correlated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. (3)

SOYBEAN OIL: Increases the risk of obesity, inflammation, heart disease, cancer, and autoimmune diseases. (2)

CALCIUM PROPIONATE: This preservative disrupts the metabolism and can promote weight gain. (4

POLYSORBATE 80: An emulsifier linked to weight gain, inflammation and digestive problems. (5)

GUAR GUM & XANTHAN GUM: These emulsifiers can kill beneficial bacteria in your gut and decrease bacterial diversity, which may contribute to an array of chronic inflammatory diseases. (6)

Is Shake Shack’s chicken sandwich healthier than other fast food places?

It’s quite shocking to see Shake Shack’s ingredients compared to what’s in Chick-fil-A, McDonald’s, and Wendy’s. They use many of the same processed ingredients like calcium propionate, soybean oil, DATEM, mono and diglycerides, and dimethylpolysiloxane (aka Silly Putty). Shake Shake still even uses TBHQ in their fryer oil, which happens to be one of the ingredients that Chick-fil-A removed after I met with them. (7)

80 ingredients in Shake Shack vs. 54 ingredients in Chick-fil-A

If your mind is spinning already, just wait until you see what’s in the ShackBurger, fries, and shake.

The ShackBurger has a whopping 73 ingredients. Those “Non-GMO” potato buns are filled with a slew of dough conditioners, preservatives, and emulsifiers.

And that Shack Sauce? It’s mostly Canola Oil, which is an unhealthy refined oil linked to inflammation and heart health risks. (2) The sauce is preserved with Potassium Sorbate. This preservative has been shown to be genotoxic to white blood cells, which could lead to cancer (8)

Just like the chicken sandwich, the ShackBurger is packed with 4 different natural flavors to give it that irresistible taste. No wonder they are so popular! 

While I love that Shake Shack doesn’t use antibiotics or hormones in their beef, there is more to making good food. They really don’t need to use all of these processed ingredients to make a burger. One of their biggest rivals is Five Guys… and neither one is really any healthier than the other.

Shake Shack Fries:

Shake Shack coats their fries in soybean, canola, and cottonseed oils, which are the worst oils on the planet. These oils come from GMO crops and are processed to DEATH with chemical solvents, steamers, neutralizers, de-waxers, bleach and deodorizers. (9) Then they fry them up in refined soybean oil preserved with TBHQ along with the Silly Putty ingredient, Dimethylpolysiloxane. Why not just use potatoes, oil, and salt?? 

Shake Shack Grilled Cheese:

Their grilled cheese sandwich has the same bun and cheese that they use in the ShackBurger, so it’s loaded with the same dough conditioners and preservatives. 

Shake Shack Custard & Shakes: 

The base of their shakes is their vanilla custard, which they blend with milk to make their vanilla shake. The custard contains a “stabilizer blend” that consists of some very problematic ingredients:

MONO AND DIGLYCERIDES: This ingredient is a hidden source of trans fat, which is detrimental to heart health. (3)

CELLULOSE GUM: This thickener & emulsifier is usually made from wood, because it’s cheap. It may alter gut bacteria, increase the risk of inflammatory bowel disease, metabolic syndrome, significant weight gain, and cancer. (2)

LOCUST BEAN GUM: Similar to cellulose gum, this can alter gut bacteria and lead to various inflammatory diseases. These gums also often cause bloating and that “bubble gut” feeling in your stomach because they slow down your digestion. (6)

CARRAGEENAN: This thickener and emulsifier can cause digestive problems and intestinal inflammation. Tests have found that “food-grade carrageenan” is contaminated with up to 25% of “degraded carrageenan” (the kind not supposed to be used in food and drinks). Degraded carrageenan is classified as a “possible human carcinogen” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. (2)

What could Shake Shack do to improve their food? 

Number one on my wish list would be to stop using all those refined oils (soybean oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil, sunflower oil) in everything and to switch to a healthier oil like avocado oil in their fryers…without the TBHQ and Silly Putty, of course. 

Then, they could take that nasty “stabilizer blend” out of their custard and shakes. There is nothing good about filling your famous shakes with unnecessary additives linked to heart disease, cancer, and inflammatory diseases. 

And what about all of those natural flavors in everything? What would happen if Shake Shack lived up to their promise to use “real, premium ingredients” and actually used real food?

It would be INCREDIBLE to see them make these changes, wouldn’t it?

Maybe they’ll see this post and agree that it’s time to clean up their food. 

Until then, make sure you SHARE THIS POST to warn your friends about the ingredients at Shake Shack! 



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