Exclusive: Behind the scenes at McDonald's food plant
ABC NEWS , GIO BENTIEZ and CHRIS JAMES
7:31 PM, Oct 13, 2014
4:57 AM, Oct 14, 2014
FRESNO, Calif. - McDonald’s announced Monday it’s taking a dramatic step to bring more transparency to how its food is made by launching a new campaign to highlight customer concerns.
“We’re starting on a journey called ‘Our Food. Your Questions,’ and we want to open up the doors and let our customers ask us any questions they have, and give them answers,” company director of quality systems Rickette Collins said.
ABC News was given exclusive access to one of the mega fast-food chain’s secret food plants in Fresno, California, the first time TV cameras have been allowed in.
Americans have long had tough questions about what McDonald’s uses in its products, so the company decided to put some questions from real customers front and center in a new commercial, which launched today, and answer questions posted on social media.
“This is being done to address the questions, the comments and the concerns of our customers,” company chief brand manager Kevin Newell said. “It's not linked to the business performance at all. It's linked to making sure that our customers truly know the story about McDonald's food.”
Company officials say they process 400,000 pounds of meat per day and that their burger patties are 100 percent beef. The beef is ground and blended together to make those famous patties.
“[The beef] comes from familiar cuts that you may know like chuck and round and sirloin,” Collins said. “Just like you get at the grocery store, you know, you buy 80/20 blend.”
Pulling back the curtain on their food production can be risky, but with so many people on social media able to affect a company’s image, expert say transparency is key.
“The writing is on the wall,” said Naomi Starkman, the editor-in-chief of CivilEats.com, a U.S. food industry watchdog site. “McDonald's sees its market share diminishing. Millennials are now driving the food bus, and they're heading straight to places like Chipotle and other establishments they're offering better, healthier fare. So I think they're trying to catch up.”
While there might always be families who refuse to let their kids eat at McDonald’s, chief brand manager Newell hopes this new campaign will make them think differently about their food.