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The Day I went into a McDonald’s kitchen
Kipp takes McDonald’s up on its Open Door policy; armed with hair nets and plastic gloves we take a closer look at the inner workings of one of the largest fast food restaurateurs.
February 13, 2012 4:15 by Eva Fernandes
Do you remember the McDonald’s lettuce washing machine video? Well nearly a month after Kipp posted the dubious but somewhat alarming video (one that McDonald’s stresses is a fabricated video) of an unconventional lettuce washing machine in a Saudi McDonald’s making the rounds on the internet, Kipp spent the afternoon touring the kitchen of the McDonald’s Al Warqa branch.
We’ve been trying to figure out this trip in a really long time, and because we know Kipp readers are an insightful lot, we opened up the visit to our readers. We found a willing and fiesty candidate in Arti Gupta—a Kipp reader who recently set up her consultancy specialising in the customer experience—a rather adequate candidate for this exercise. And because we were just really nosy buggers, a member of the Kipp team tagged along with Arti to find out what exactly happens at a McDonald’s kitchen.
THE JUICY DETAILS
Now, we aren’t going to give you all the juicy and greasy details—that is what Arti Gupta is cooking up for you; she’s a real firecracker so keep your eyes peeled for her review coming out this week on Kipp. We will, however, tell you that the visit to the kitchen had an unsurprisingly positive effect on our opinion of McDonald’s.
Granted, the team had more than a month’s notice of our arrival, but the meticulous and detailed processes that appear to be in place come complete with supporting documentation of their application, quelled our cynicism just a bit. The kitchen was very well organised and incredibly clean.
Apparently, there is a buzzer that goes off every hour which reminds every employee that they need to wash their hand. The storage areas are well maintained, the temperatures of the freezers are constantly regulated and the kitchen, overall, looked especially clean.
WHAT A WASTE
Perhaps, the one thing that stood out of our little kitchen inspection was the amount of waste that McDonald’s generates on a daily basis. For instance, a beef patty, once cooked, will remain on the assembly line only for 15 minutes. If after 15 minutes, this patty has not been used, a beeper goes off, and an employee chucks the patty into the bin. At the end of the day, an employee counts the number of patties that have been discarded and makes a note of it.
The first time I heard our tour operator, McDonald’s Operations Director Wissam Marouf, discuss the waste disposal, I was sure I had misheard him. “Did you just say, you throw the patty out if it isn’t used after 15 minutes?” I asked incredulously. He said he did.
In fact, he said that regular standards dictate cooked meat to be disposed if left unused after 30 minutes, for hygiene and safety purposes. If as if to prove a point, at that moment a buzzer went off. An employee pulled out a hamper of six brown patties that had been sitting used 15 minutes too long, and threw them out. He opened a knee high bin (well, I am rather short, so use your imagination) and I was so surprised to see a mountain of fried burgers discarded. I shuddered to think that it was only four in the afternoon.
Waste isn’t an uncommon aspect of a McDonald’s kitchen, nor any fastfood kitchen, we can imagine. And it isn’t an inexpensive affair either, with monthly losses clocking in at four-digit dollar figures.
Though McDonald’s now reuses the oil it uses to fry food in to be converted into bio-fuel for their trucks, the food that is disposed doesn’t have such an altruistic destiny. In fact, McDonald’s Arabia is looking for a more appropriate means of disposal, as currently all the meat, vegetables and bread that exceed their shelf life are simply thrown out.
Talk about a major environmental ochie. I am going to refrain from our usual ‘holier and greener than thou’ spiel, because we see McDonald’s waste issue as a question of hygiene and safety. Of course, a rather obvious solution would be for McDonald staff to only cook burgers when a customer orders a burger. Yet such an alternative will be time consuming-the antithesis of the ethos of the Golden Arches.
…So there you have it folks, this is just a snip bit of our trip to the kitchens. Stay tuned for a certainly very interesting review of the trip from Kipp reader Arti Gupta. In the mean time—why not head down to a McDonald’s branch and ask to be taken around the kitchens? The Open Door policy has been around these parts for the better part of 3 years and has seen more than 5,000 people to date. Just remember, there are special timings and locations for these tours—but if you do manage to ambush the Golden Arches, be sure to drop Kipp a line!
These are the timings for the open door tour at McDonald’s in Dubai. You can find more information here.
|Spinneys, Bur Dubai||Every Sunday||3 pm to 5 pm|
|Jumeirah Beach Road||Every Monday||3 pm to 5 pm|
|The Gardens,Jebel Ali||Every Tuesday||3 pm to 5 pm|
|ENOC Al Warqaa||Every Sunday||3 pm to 5 pm|
|Beirut EPPCO||Every Sunday||3 pm to 5 pm|
|Hamriya Coop||Every Monday||3 pm to 5 pm|
|Nad Al Hamar||Every Monday||3 pm to 5 pm|
|Al Bustan Residence||Every Monday||3 pm to 5 pm|
|Emirates Coop, Al Mizhar||Every Monday||3 pm to 5 pm|
|EPPCO Nad Shamma||Every Wednesday||3 pm to 5 pm|
|EMARAT Al Moosa||Every Wednesday||4 pm to 6 pm|
|ENOC Garhoud||Every Tuesday||4 pm to 6 pm|
|ENOC Al Nahda||Every Sunday||4 pm to 6 pm|