It might not be health food, but McDonald’s wants you to know it is making its menu healthier.
The burger chain made famous for its fast service—and reviled for food practices including the use of warming bins, flash freezing and additives—is taking steps to address consumer concerns. The company has been on “a food journey.” toward an updated, more transparent menu.
The latest step is to remove preservatives from its burger offerings.
Since 2014, McDonald’s USA has been on a food journey. We’ve been laser-focused on using our size and scale to implement meaningful changes across our entire menu, changes that we know are important to our customers, our franchisees, our people and our planet. We’ve evolved everything from when we serve certain items, to how we cook our beef patties, to the ingredients we use across our menu. And now, we’ve taken that journey to new heights.
On September 26, 2018, we announced that all of our classic burgers have no artificial preservatives, no artificial flavors and no added colors from artificial sources. Our pickle contains an artificial preservative, so skip it if you like.
The change will impact McDonald’s hamburger, cheeseburger, double cheeseburger, McDouble, quarter pounder with cheese, double quarter pounder with cheese and the Big Mac.
McDonald’s says the move is important to better serve customers.
“This development demonstrates our commitment to leading with the customer and building a better McDonald’s,” said Chris Kempczinski, McDonald’s USA President. “We know quality choices are important to our customers. From switching to 100 percent fresh beef in our quarter-pound burgers, cooked right when ordered in a majority of our restaurants, to removing artificial preservatives in our Chicken McNuggets®, we’ve made significant strides in evolving the quality of our food—and this latest positive change to our classic burgers is an exciting part of that story.”
This isn’t the first step McDonald’s has taken to remove artificial preservatives from its food and is part of a wider industry movement away from these ingredients.
McDonald’s is following an industry trend toward healthier food. Companies like Taco Bell, Subway and Panera Bread have all recently moved to nix artificial ingredients from their menus.
In 2016, McDonald’s eliminated artificial preservatives from its McNuggets and ditched high fructose corn syrup in its buns.
McDonald’s shared the news on Twitter:
We’re excited to announce our classic burgers have no artificial preservatives, no artificial flavors and no added colors from artificial sources! Our pickle contains an artificial preservative, so skip it if you like. Changes you can feel good about! ð https://t.co/4dmOf0pg5C pic.twitter.com/UxMFV4mw96
— McDonald’s (@McDonalds) September 26, 2018
Some one Twitter weren’t moved to change their opinion of McDonald’s:
— Ashley (@CakedAsh72792) September 28, 2018
Some went so far as to ask McDonald’s to keep the preservatives:
No. I want mine with preservatives and antibiotics. @McDonalds
— Cris Payumo ðºð¸ (@crispayumo) September 28, 2018
Others welcomed the change:
@McDonalds just read how McD’s is removing more of the bad stuff (preservatives, & artificial stuff), to compliment the earlier fresh beef initiative. Glad to hear! Burgers don’t need that stuff. Let’s how it stays that way (as it should have been all along)!
— Jeffrey A.K. (@99_weeks) September 27, 2018
Others seemed skeptical that McDonald’s was just engaging in wordplay:
Yeah they’re all “natural” preservatives and “natural” flavors now. Yall found a loophole! Woo!
— Edward Ramos (@tomayonaise) September 26, 2018
However, McDonald’s other efforts lend credence to the move.
The Golden Arches has been on a mission to clean up its menu since Steve Easterbrook took the helm in 2015. It switched to fresh, instead of frozen, beef for its Quarter Pounders this year, and got rid of artificial preservatives from its Chicken McNuggets in 2016. It also nixed margarine from its Egg McMuffins, which sent suppliers intooverdrive to make and ship millions of pounds of butter across the country.
Here are several lessons from McDonald’s announcement:
1. Tell a story.
McDonald’s framed its latest move as part of a greater brand story, moving away from preservatives and artificial ingredients. This enabled the chain to announce its latest gains without facing criticism for all the ways its menu still falls short of health advocates’ goals.
In calling the move just the latest step on a “food journey,” McDonald’s spoke about its new efforts instead of focusing on the nitty-gritty of what is still in its food—and how long it retained unnecessary additives in its burgers.
2. Provide good quotes.
Every news article about the changes has been accompanied by a quote from the president of McDonald’s USA, Chris Kempczinski. PR pros who are looking for good press coverage should focus on getting powerful, punchy quotes from a high-profile executive.
Keep in mind these tips when sourcing quotes for your message.
3. Don’t forget social media.
Your press release is worth less and less in the modern media environment.
That means you should use your other channels to boost the signal. McDonald’s used its Twitter feed to share the news release and let more people know about its efforts.
What do you think of McDonald’s move and its messaging, PR Daily readers?