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McDonald’s feeds hunger for transparency

McDonald's in the GCC now the First Quick Service Restaurant in the Middle East to Post Nutrition Information on its Packaging_3

Thanks to its latest initiative, we'll be able to read how many calories a Big Mac has.

March 4, 2013 6:28 by

Following an interactive Q&A session at a press conference in Dubai today (Monday), we’ve learned that McDonald’s Middle East & North Africa will become the first fast-food chain (in the GCC, that is) to publicly reveal nutritional information directly on its packaging. The event was entitled ‘Your right to Know’ and is the latest step in the company’s road to transparency with its customers.

Since 2002, the brand has made a point to become more transparent by providing nutritional information on flyers. In 2006 it enacted its now famous open-door policy and its latest scheme will be applied to more than 360 of its regional branches.

The demand for transparency – particularly in the food industry – has become increasingly prominent, but now more than ever; with customers becoming more paranoid about the ingredients of what they eat, this move comes at a convenient time for McDonald’s. After all, the restaurant feeds 900,000 customers every day in the GCC. Also, it sets a precedent for other brands to possibly take a leaf out of its book, rather than wait around for a government mandate.

Kipp is referring to the aftermath of Europe’s horse-meat scandal that has once again brought to light the lack of openness in the industry – where several brands, including UK’s Tesco, Burger King and Nestle have been caught out for having horse meat mixed in with their beef products. And if the results of a recent poll on Kipp Report is one of several things to consider, it is that that news of this scandal has made the public re-evaluate their dietary choices.

However, Yousif Abdulghani, Managing Director of McDonald’s MENA, tells Kipp that they have ‘nothing to do with Europe’s scandal’ and that having an open-door policy – both literally and figuratively – is not coincidental. “This is nothing new for us, especially in this region,” he says. “And what happened in Europe has nothing to do with – nor has it influenced – what we’re doing here today,” he tells Kipp.

In fact, when he was quizzed on how he could be sure that its meat is horse-free, he strongly assured that all of its regional meat products are made of 100% beef, are Halal and pass through DNA tests and ‘complicated’ local inspections. To qualify as a McDonald’s supplier, he adds, means that one must meet the international safety and quality bar as well as their own internal standard.

“We sometimes beat our suppliers to death [about the importance of high standards],” he jokes, adding that the notions of quality, hygiene and service are non-negotiable and must be upheld to the highest standards. “We’re just proud of the food we serve, and we want customers to understand what goes into it.”

Abdulghani was also asked whether the healthy side of McDonald’s menu (introduced primarily in 2004) has proven popular when compared to more traditional offerings.“The majority still prefer our burgers and fries,” he says.


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