Dimethylpolysiloxane is most famous as being the main component of silly putty. Who doesn’t love the versatile glob that can be a toy, good exercise, and even made up into a ball and the subject of a game? But what if the components of that amusing little glob were now making up your dinner?

In addition to the various household products containing this type of silicone, it’s numerous entrees at some of your favorite fast food restaurants. Scared yet? Although there is no current research proving that dimethylpolysiloxane causes serious danger to human health. However, the lack of research is itself a question mark. What we know is that this increasingly common additive is anything but natural. More on this in the following article.

french fries in a napkin on a table

These fries are incredibly appetizing… and dangerous.

What Is Dimethylpolysiloxane?

Dimethylpolysiloxane, also bearing the name polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), is a type of silicone. Like silicon types do, this one too has with a wide range of uses. It is a non-biogradable synthetic substance. It’s commonly in use in items such as contact lenses, or medical devices. Even shampoos and conditioners use it (properties in PDMS give the hair a shiny and slippery feel). Here’s a continued list of items using it: caulks, lubricants, adhesives, mold release agents, polishes, heat transfer fluids, aquarium sealant, kinetic sand, silly putty, cosmetics and even breast implants.

In food, PDMS acts as an anti-foaming and anti-caking agent. Its presence changes the surface tension in many liquids allowing for a more uniform appearance. Because of its non-biodegradable properties, PDMS regularly serves as a food preservative. Most often, however, it’s an additive in cooking oils in fast food restaurants. They use it to cut down on oil splatters while food is in the deep-fryer.

Items that Contain Dimethylpolysiloxane

PDMS is typically an ingredient in fast food restaurants that rely heavily on frying or on ready made food such as (this is not an exhaustive list):

  • McDonalds.
  • Subway.
  • Chick-Fil-A.
  • Wendy’s.
  • Jack-in-the-Box.
  • Domino’s.

is PDMS simply an unnecessary ingredient added in American fast food joints to cut corners and cut costs?

  • Taco Bell.
  • Pizza Hut.
  • KFC.
  • Burger King.
  • Arby’s.

McDonalds’ chicken nuggets and french fries in the United States contain PDMS as an anti-foaming agent. Wendy’s Frosties use PDMS to achieve a thicker consistency. PDMS is one of the main ingredients in a cheap butter substitute under the name “Phase Oil”. This mix is also a part of Dominos’ Cheesy Bread Sticks, taking the place of real butter. Interestingly, although most canned beverages do not contain PDMS, many of their fountain drink counterparts do. So that limitless refill at Subway is a proverbial double-edged sword, we presume.

chicken nuggets on a cutting board

You’ll never look at chicken nuggets the same way.

Dangers of Dimethylpolysiloxane

  1. PDMS, under high temperature conditions, is known to degrade into compounds that include formaldehyde. This later element, often used for embalming, is a very dangerous carcinogen.
  2. Comparisons of American entree ingredient lists from popular fast food restaurants with that of the equivalent entree in a U.K. restaurant show that PDMS is more commonly found in American fast food restaurants than in overseas counterparts of the same entree. Do fast food consumers in the U.K. like their fries extra foamy? Or is PDMS simply an unnecessary ingredient added in American fast food joints to cut corners and cut costs?
  3. In the past, PDMS was put into use as a fluid to fill breast implants. However, after receiving the “safety concern” label, the practice of using the chemical in the production of breast implants has gone down dramatically. But why hasn’t the fast-food industry caught up?
  4. The FDA listed Dimethylpolysiloxane as a “substance generally recognized as safe in food” in (Sec. 176.200). In this document, defoaming agents are to be used under the pretense that:

The quantity of defoaming agent or agents used shall not exceed the amount required to accomplish the intended effect, which is to prevent or control the formation of foam.

This generic limitation allows for virtually free use of this synthetic chemical in food.

So What’s to Take from this?

In conclusion, the production process of PDMS uses a combination of many chemicals. These bear the label of less than safe for human ingestion. There is evidence that shows that PDMS, in certain conditions, can break down into more dangerous chemicals like formaldehyde, known to cause cancer. PDMS is an artificial substance, and minimal studies exist to verify the safety of its consumption. It’s in use among other unpronounceable ingredients, making up a considerable amount of fast food. Fast food that millions of Americans eat every day. That being said, no authentic research came up with facts that PDMS is a health risk to humans. Moreover, the chemicals in the mix that make PDMS are not risk factors. They’ve not been confirmed to cause any harmful effects on the human body.

fountain drinks rounded up

The good news amidst the foreboding uncertainties of our modern food options is that we have a choice to avoid consuming these potentially harmful chemicals by staying away from the foods that contain them.

The truth is, let’s assume PDMS has no harmful effects on the human body. However, the food that contains it is clearly providing little to no benefit to human health. More than that, when eaten in excess, it can cause huge health issues for an individual. If you are afraid of PDMS and other synthetic substances like it, you can simply choose to eat more wholesome food. What are your thoughts about foods containing substances like PDMS being available to the public? What evidence, either positive or negative, have you heard about this topic? Any factual information is more than welcome.

Images taken from depositphotos.com.