The Fatty, Processed Truth Inside McDonald’s New Egg-White McMuffin

Will it be a reason to get out of bed—or a reason to press the snooze button?
Are yolk-less Egg McMuffin's really going to make McDonald's menu healthier? (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Mar 14, 2013· 2 MIN READ
Jason Best is a regular contributor to TakePart who has worked for Gourmet and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Wasn’t Jerry Seinfeld a big fan of egg-white omelets back in the days of Seinfeld, like, 20 years ago? What’s taken McDonald’s so long to jump on that bandwagon?

Mickey D’s has announced it’ll start slinging the first-ever, egg-white version of its classic Egg McMuffin on April 22 nationwide, but it seems unlikely that this “healthier-for-you” option is going to generate the kind of buzz that, say, Taco Bell’s release of yet another unholy Doritos-taco hybrid has.

(Taco Bell just announced that the mad success of its Doritos Locos created 15,000 jobs in the last year—yeah, 15,000. If only Americans were as passionate about U.S.-made cars as they are about their snack-chip tacos, we’d have Detroit back.)

But back to the skinny on the new McMuffin. (It’s easy to get sidetracked—an egg-white McMuffin is hardly earth-shattering news.) Kudos to McDonald’s for adding another (relatively) healthy breakfast option to counter the likes of its 1,000-calorie Big Breakfasts, but it’s hardly at the vanguard of menu innovation. Subway and Dunkin’ Donuts have been hawking egg-white breakfast sandwiches for years—and you’re still likely better off scarfing down one of those during the a.m. rush.

McDonald’s says its new Egg White Delight (ugh, even the name seems like a late-in-the-day boardroom compromise) clocks in at 250 calories, according to CNN. But holding the yolk only cuts the calorie count by 50...an original Egg McMuffin has 300 calories. True, without the yolk you’ll skip the cholesterol, but the white cheddar and Canadian bacon will still give you a wake-up call of fat.

On the other hand, Subway’s Egg White & Cheese Muffin Melt (with ham) comes in at 170 calories, while Dunkin’ Donuts’s Wake-Up Wrap with egg white and turkey sausage has a relatively scant 150 calories.

In light of McDonald’s recent launch of its “sustainable fish bites” (seriously) and its attempts to align itself with the farm-to-table movement, its Egg White Delight seems like another cheap maneuver to build brand loyalty with a new, healthier demographic. But instead of selling food that’s actually low in fat and high in nutrients, an eggless McMuffin just makes customers feel better about their menu choice, without actually being any better for their health.

Still, though, McDonald’s could use a hit (just please, no Cheetos Quarter Pounders). After posting year-over-year monthly sales gains for almost a decade, the fast-food behemoth slipped in October last year. And again in January. And again in February, when sales declined 3.3 percent. (The chain’s number crunchers were quick to point out that, because it was a leap year, February 2012 had an extra day—scrap February 29, and sales were, well, flat.)

While public health experts would no doubt like to think that the message is finally getting through about America’s obesity crisis, alas, analysts attribute the dip in sales to increased competition from McDonald’s rivals as well as the fact that, as the economy (slowly, painstakingly) recovers, Americans aren’t feeling as cash-strapped, and thus willing to splurge on more than just another Big Mac.

After all, you don’t need to look further than the new Cool Ranch Doritos tacos at Taco Bell to know Americans still love grease on their fingers.

These are solely the author's opinions and do not represent those of TakePart, LLC or its affiliates.