McDonald's removes artificial preservatives from McNuggets

McDonald's Chicken McNuggets no longer contain artificial preservatives, the company said Monday.

Author : Hadley Malcolm

Photo byMark Duncan, AP

Photo byMark Duncan, AP

The menu upgrades are the latest attempt by the fast-food chain to remake its image for a customer base that's become more concerned with eating healthful and natural food. They may also give the company a welcome sales jolt after reporting a weaker-than-expected second quarter last week.

McDonald's spokeswoman Becca Hary said the company got rid of an artificial preservative used in the cooking oil for McNuggets and now makes McNuggets themselves with "ingredients that sound more familiar to people," such as pea starch and rice starch. McDonald's also got rid of chicken skin, safflower oil and citric acid in McNuggets. Sodium phosphates, a common food additive that helps keep meat moist, are gone from the chicken meat, but not the breading.

Hary said the new McNuggets taste the same. McDonald's tested them in restaurants in Oregon and Washington earlier this year. Other menu items could still be overhauled, though Hary didn't call out any specifically.

"Some items on our menu still contain artificial preservatives, and we are taking steps to evaluate the ingredients in these items," she said.

These sorts of changes are becoming standard for restaurants and consumer packaged goods companies trying to keep up with changing customer preferences and to stay competitive with newer brands that boast only all-natural options.

Companies don't have a choice when it comes to selling food that's perceived as cleaner, says Jack Russo, senior analyst at Edward Jones covering consumer goods. "It’s part of the rules today. Everybody wants food that's better for them."

Investors have been watching McDonald's in particular as CEO Steve Easterbrook implements a multiyear comeback plan to make the fast-food chain relevant to today's dining standards. One thing that's helped: the all-day breakfast menu introduced last year and which continues to drive sales and traffic.

The food changes come amid a slew of others McDonald's has been implementing, including a transition announced last year to use only cage-free eggs. That goal is expected to take 10 years, but McDonald's finished ahead of schedule when it came to moving away from using chicken treated with antibiotics critical to human medicine. The company said that transition is complete. It initially was expected to take until March 2017 to fully implement.

Combined, the changes announced Monday affect ingredients in nearly half the food on McDonald's U.S. menu. There will be no increased cost for customers, Hary said.

Source : USA Today

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