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Food and Drink

McDonald's launches plan to green its menu

McDonald's has announced an ambitious sustainability program that will re-examine where its food comes from.

Last week's announcement came wrapped in a slew of corporate promises, including the pledge to make sure that the food in the company's restaurants comes from sustainable sources. The Sustainable Land Management Commitment, or SLMC, will require that suppliers use agricultural raw materials - unprocessed or minimally processed materials from nature - that originate from sustainably managed lands.

The core of the plan will focus on five priority areas as identified in collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund: beef, poultry, coffee, palm oil and packaging.

A big part of the project includes the banning of beef sourced from slaughterhouses within the Amazon Biome. To green chicken supplies, the company also imposed a series of moratoriums on all soya feed purchased from deforested areas of the Amazon. Soya is the major component of chicken feed.

Coffee and wood fibers for product packaging will also be sourced from third-party certified, sustainable sources.

Meanwhile, palm oil - which is used as the frying oil in restaurants - will also be revisited, as rising demand in palm tree plantations have resulted in the clear-cutting of native, tropical forests. The company pledged to switch to certified sustainable palm oil by 2015.

McDonald's has 32,000 locations in 117 countries.

Just last month, two former veteran executives from McDonald's announced plans to start their own fast-food chain that would ban butter, cream, high-fructose corn syrup and frying oil. The Lyfe Kitchen, which stands for "Love Your Food Everyday," will open its first restaurant in Palo Alto this year, with plans to build 250 more locations across the US over the next few years.

The fast-food outlet will be spearheaded by former McDonald's president and chief operating officer Mike Roberts, former communications boss Mike Donahue, in collaboration with Oprah's personal chef, Art Smith. The dish on the new fast-food chain is that menu items will be sourced from sustainable, local farms.