The behemoth moves: McDonald's makes major menu changes

| by S.A. Whitehead
The behemoth moves: McDonald's makes major menu changes

That behemoth of fast food, McDonald's USA, is making huge menu changes in order to meet the needs of customers, who want a more healthful diet. The company said today that changes include:

  • No more artificial preservatives in that iconic food of kids everywhere: Chicken McNuggets.
  • No more artificial preservatives in breakfast items like pork sausage patties and omelet-style eggs on McGriddles, bagel and biscuit breakfast sandwiches and breakfast platter scrambled eggs.
  • No high-fructose corn syrup in buns for burgers, fish and McChicken. (2015 artisan rolls also have none of the corn syrup). 
  • No chicken treated with antibiotics important to human medicine.

"More than ever, people care about their food — where it comes from, what goes into it and how it's prepared," said McDonald's USA President Mike Andres. "We're making changes to ensure the food we're proud of is food our customers love and feel good eating, and we remain committed to our continuing food journey at McDonald's."

McDonald's originally set out to achieve its antibiotics chicken commitment by March 2017. But after dialogue with a number of groups, including Friends of the Earth, he chain worked with its suppliers and farmers on a large scale, and is making thhe change a reality one full year ahead of schedule. Now every chicken item McDonald's serves is made from chicken not treated with antibiotics important to human medicine.

Kari Hamerschlag, deputy director of the Food and Technology program at Friends of the Earth, made the following comment:

"We applaud McDonald's for moving forward so quickly to implement its commitment to eliminate antibiotics in human medicine from its chicken supply. As the nation’s largest restaurant chain, McDonald’s will send an important signal to the entire poultry industry — as well as to its top competitors — that offering chicken raised without antibiotics is both good for business and achievable in short order. Now, we look forward to the company taking similar swift action on its pork and beef supply, which continues to be produced with routine antibiotics.

As a result of the change, McDonald’s Chain Reaction Scorecard grade will improve in the second annual report out this September from its current grade of "C," according to Friends of the Earth. The scorecard ranks America’s top 25 restaurant chains’ meat and poultry antibiotics policies. It is a joint project of Friends of the Earth, Consumers Union, NRDC, Center for Food Safety, Food Animals Concerns Trust and Keep Antibiotics Working.

"I applaud efforts such as those undertaken by McDonald's in close collaboration with its suppliers and poultry farmers, to greatly reduce the use of medically important antibiotics in its animal agricultural food supply chain," said Dr. H Morgan Scott, professor of epidemiology in the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology at Texas A&M University. "McDonald's and its suppliers have worked to identify appropriate alternatives for sustaining broiler flock health while implementing protocols to ensure that animal welfare is not compromised. Sourcing decisions by industry leaders such as McDonald's have great potential to positively influence appropriate antibiotic stewardship in food animal sectors around the world."

These are the most recent changes for the iconic chain that is getting on board with the healthful food revolution in a big way. Other changes include:

  • September 2015: Pledge to move to 100 percent cage-free eggs by 2025 in the U.S and Canada. (According to the Humane Society of the United States, more than 100 companies have since announced their commitments to do the same, showing positive impact across the industry.)
  • June 2015: Replacing iceberg lettuce in premium salad blend with fresh romaine, baby spinach and baby kale. 
  • June 2016: Adding Tuscan red leaf lettuce and ribbon-cut carrot curls to salads, to offer each with at least 2.5 cups of vegetables.
  • 100 percent real butter in Egg McMuffins. 
  • August 2015: 100 percent  chicken breast fillet and real buttermilk in crispy chicken. 
  • Milk and yogurt from cows not treated with rbST*, an artificial growth hormone.

"From our test kitchens to what we serve in our restaurants, we're zeroing in on how to bring new flavors and choices some never seen before on our menu to customers across the country," said Chef Jessica Foust, RDN, director of culinary innovation, McDonald's Corporation. "Our focus on culinary innovation at McDonald's is essential as we continue to evolve."

And in a big nod to local food sourcing and sustainability, McDonald's also is now serving:

  • Gilroy Garlic Fries in the San Francisco Bay area with garlic from Gilroy. 
  • Old Bay Filet-O-Fish sandwich with 100 percent sustainably sourced, Marine Stewardship Council certified wild-caught Alaskan Pollock.
  • Lobster Rolls in New England, with 100 percent North Atlantic lobster

It's clear that McDonald's senses urgency in jumping into the sustainable and healthful food trends that have been so evident, particularly this year, for food service in the U.S. Tomorrow, come back to for a two-part series that looks at one of the nation's most innovative and effective non-profit progams to help restaurateurs go healthy and stay profitable, as well as some of the most recent research on the overwhelming and even growing popularity of fast food in this nation. 

Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability, Equipment & Supplies, Food Allergies / Gluten-free, Food & Beverage, Food Safety, Health & Nutrition, Hot Products

S.A. Whitehead

Award-winning veteran print and broadcast journalist, Shelly Whitehead, has spent most of the last 30 years reporting for TV and newspapers, including the former Kentucky and Cincinnati Post and a number of network news affiliates nationally. She brings her cumulative experience as a multimedia storyteller and video producer to the web-based pages of and after a lifelong “love affair” with reporting the stories behind the businesses that make our world go ‘round. Ms. Whitehead is driven to find and share news of the many professional passions people take to work with them every day in the pizza and quick-service restaurant industry. She is particularly interested in the growing role of sustainable agriculture and nutrition in food service worldwide and is always ready to move on great story ideas and news tips.

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