Does McDonald’s Ice Cream Contain Xylitol?

Snopes contacted McDonald's USA by email after a rumor went viral on Facebook about dogs, xylitol, and the company's ice cream.

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A Facebook post claimed that McDonald's ice cream contains xylitol which is a sugar alcohol that is toxic and deadly to dogs.
Image via Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Claim

McDonald’s ice cream contains xylitol, a sugar alcohol that is toxic to dogs.

Rating

Origin

In April 2022, a viral rumor was shared on Facebook that claimed McDonald’s ice cream contains xylitol, a sugar alcohol that is toxic and even deadly to dogs. However, while it’s true that xylitol is dangerous to dogs, it’s false to claim that it’s included in McDonald’s ice cream.

Person, Human, Cream
A McDonald’s ice cream cone in Melbourne, Australia. (Courtesy: avlxyz/Flickr)

Going Viral

At the time that we filed this report, one viral post had already been shared more than 1,000 times: 

mcdonalds xylitol ice cream

It read as follows:

I am waiting for a reply from McDonald’s to confirm…

Pet warning!

It is being posted that McDonald’s has added Xylitol to their ice cream…. Xylitol is deadly to dogs! Please use caution until it is confirmed or denied….

Another instance of McDonald’s ice cream being linked to xylitol, also known as “birch” or “wood” sugar, appeared as this colorful screenshot in many posts:

It read as follows:

xylitol-ice-cream-mcdonalds

“Just so everyone knows. McDonalds ice cream has xylitol sugar in it. Don’t feed any of their ice cream to your pets. Xylitol sugar is toxic to dogs and will kill them in a hour Please…”

McDonald’s USA Responds

We contacted McDonald’s and shared the social media rumor about the company’s ice cream, xylitol, and dogs. By email, McDonald’s USA confirmed that their ice cream does not contain xylitol.

Further, the company’s website doesn’t show xylitol as an ingredient in any of McDonald’s desserts.

The Facebook posts that made the claim also provided no evidence or sources to substantiate the false rumor.

A Facebook post claimed that McDonald's ice cream contains xylitol which is a sugar alcohol that is toxic and deadly to dogs.
A McDonald’s sign with an ice cream cone in Hong Kong. (Courtesy: Alicia Griffin/Flickr)

Xylitol

Separate from the false McDonald’s rumor, we have reported in the past that it’s true that xylitol is a sugar alcohol that is dangerous for dogs. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) published that it is a “serious concern” if a dog ingests any product that contains xylitol:

Xylitol is sweetener that is most commonly found in food products but can be found in other consumer goods as well. While xylitol consumption can be dangerous for your dog, it does not cause serious problems in cats or ferrets.

In dogs, xylitol causes low blood sugar and liver injury. Signs of low blood sugar include weakness, unsteadiness, shaking, and (if it goes untreated) seizures. While low blood sugar can occur very quickly—as soon as 30 minutes after ingestion—it can take up to 12 hours for symptoms to appear after ingestion.

Signs of liver injury may include a decrease in appetite, lethargy, yellowing of the skin as well as vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms indicating liver injury in your dog may not be seen for two or three days after ingestion.

In sum, we rated the claim that McDonald’s ice cream contains xylitol as “False.” The sugar alcohol truly is harmful to dogs, but the company’s U.S. headquarters confirmed that it’s not included in its desserts.

Source:

“Xylitol: Everything You Need to Know.” Healthline, 4 Oct. 2018, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/xylitol-101.
 
“Xylitol: The Sweetener That Is Not So Sweet for Pets.” ASPCA, 20 Sept. 2017, https://www.aspca.org/news/xylitol-sweetener-not-so-sweet-pets.
 
“Xylitol Toxicity In Dogs.” VCA Animal Hospitals, https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/xylitol-toxicity-in-dogs.