McDonald’s dumps frozen patties in switch to fresh beef for its burgers

Fresh food movement prompts fast food giant to make the switch

PUBLISHED : Friday, 31 March, 2017, 1:11am
UPDATED : Friday, 31 March, 2017, 1:21am

In a move that appears aimed at taking on the quality movement sweeping fast food, McDonald’s announced Thursday that it will start making one of its signature hamburgers, the Quarter Pounder, with fresh beef patties.

The changeover from frozen beef will begin starting mid-next year in a majority of its US restaurants. McDonald’s is the nation’s largest fast-food chain.

In making the move, McDonald’s provides push back to chains like Wendy’s and In-N-Out which have been promoting their use of fresh beef for better-tasting burgers. Even though fresh beef will make its burgers more premium, McDonald’s vows to hold the line on price.

“We don’t anticipate any significant increase in price,” said spokeswoman Becca Hary. “Individual franchisees set their own price.”

“Let’s start making moves customers want us to, but by no means are we done. This is a first step,” said McDonald’s USA president Chris Kempczinski, explaining that the Quarter Pounder was selected as the first burger line to make the switch, because it “is right up there with the Big Mac as we think of iconic products. The Quarter Pounder is a premium burger for us. It’s where we have our most demanding customers.”

He declined to give a time line for the other McDonald’s burgers.

According to Kempczinski, taste will be the big difference, but the nutrition remains the same.

“When you’re cooking a fresh patty on the grill, you need to cook it less,” he said. Faster cook time on the grill means you have better flavour retention and it comes right off the grill and is delivered to the customer. Besides the perception, there are other associated benefits.“

The change in food handling practises and the shorter grill time means McDonald’s must tweak its how-to manuals for staffers. The fast food giant must also re-educate restaurant workers now working with fresh beef about food safety.

Kempczinski also said the switch will not change impact who its suppliers are.

Fresh beef had been tested in 325 restaurants in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and 77 restaurants in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which McDonald’s said was a customer-led initiative.

Quarter Pounder burgers include the Quarter Pounder, Quarter Pounder with Cheese, Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese, the Quarter Pounder with Cheese Deluxe and Signature Crafted Recipe burgers.

Restaurants in Alaska and Hawaii aren’t making the switch, because of the distance and the logistics involved in shipping there, according to Hary.