McDonald's tries using fresh beef in its Quarter Pounder burgers as part of major overhaul

Franchisees express concerns over food safety as fast food giant rolls out project

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The Independent Online

McDonald’s has begun using fresh beef in its popular burgers, in one of the biggest changes to its infrastructure since the chain opened.

The 76-year-old fast food giant has previously always used frozen beef to make its meals, but is currently trialling the use of fresh produce in its restaurants in the US.

The fresh beef strategy is being tested at nearly 100 restaurants across the states of Texas and Oklahoma, and will initially only apply to the chain’s Quarter Pounder and Clubhouse burgers.

Switching ingredients in such a fundamental way is likely to cause significant upheaval at the corporation as cooking methods change, and it is unclear whether the project will be rolled out globally.

According to a survey by retail specialists Nomura, McDonald’s franchisees have expressed “major concerns” regarding food safety and fears the chain will no longer be able to serve a large amount of customers quickly if fresh beef is served.

“If we do not handle the meat perfectly there is the opportunity for bacterial invasion of our product”, one respondent wrote. “An uncaring employee could do something that puts the entire system at risk.”

McDonald’s frequently scores poorly in customer quality surveys, and the chain is attempting to improve its reputation under British CEO Steve Easterbrook.

Last year McDonald’s pledged to stop using eggs from caged chickens by 2025, and announced it would no longer use human antibiotics in its chicken dishes. 

On the topic of the fresh beef project, McDonald’s executive chef Chad Schafer said: “These burgers are hotter and juicier than our previous quarter pound patties and are made with fresh, 100-percent North American beef that’s simply seasoned with a pinch of salt and pepper.”

“These new fresh beef Quarter Pounder burgers are one of the ways McDonald’s is continuing to test updates to our menu and focus on quality preparation,” added Lance Richards, vice president of menu strategy.

McDonald’s has restaurants at 14,000 locations in America and over 36,000 worldwide. An estimated 68 million people eat at McDonald’s restaurants every day, according to the US Exchange Commission.