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Will I eat a Big Mac again?

Will I eat a Big Mac again?

Avid Kipp reader and customer experience strategist Arti Gupta shares her thoughts after visiting a McDonald's kitchen in Dubai.

February 14, 2012 4:41 by

What would you expect the quality of food to be when the founder of a fastfood restaurant says he is in real estate business instead of food and hamburgers, and the focus is to get the residual income from the franchises?

Yes, this is what Ray Kroc (founder of McDonaldʼs Corporation) replied when someone asked him, “What business are you in?”

And to add to our concerns, the internet is full of videos on how the fries at McDonald’s have something in them that even after being months old they look as if they were just bought yesterday and how the burgers start decaying only after days. Seeing all this, I stopped eating McDonaldʼs food almost a year back.

We all know that eating too much of high-fat fries and burgers is not good for the health. This point has been aptly shown in a documentary film “Super Size Me” by Morgan Spurlock. Spurlock went on a McDonaldʼs diet for 30 days and this film documents the dietʼs effect on his physical and psychological well-being. He dined at McDonaldʼs restaurants three times a day and gained 11.1 kgs, a 13 percent body mass increase, a cholesterol level of 230 apart from mood swings and sexual dysfunction.

The latest addition to the anti-McDonald’s cavalcade is a video of lettuce being washed in washing machine at a joint in Saudi Arabia, which was Kipp covered and was promptly addressed by the McDonald’s team as a fraudulent video.

Kippreport’s Eva Fernandes and I made use of McDonald’s Open Kitchen policy and met with the Operations Director and a marketing executive.

We were told that the employees there believed so much in the quality of the burgers that they ate at least two meals there every day. I wonder why none of them looked like Morgan Spurlock even after years of working with McDonaldʼs. It makes me wonder if the employees actually eat the burgers they claim to…Or maybe all of them have super metabolisms.

Coming to the quality of food at McDonaldʼs, I must say that we were impressed with the kitchen. From what we saw, they take all possible steps to deliver hygienic food to their customers.

Some of the interesting things included:
– an hourly alarm for everyone to wash hands
– use of vegetable wash to remove dirt, soil and chemicals from vegetables
– eggs are washed and oiled to maintain hygiene;
– a shelf life of 10-15 minutes for all cooked patties (anything not consumed in that much time is thrown)
– doing a beef integrity test twice a day to make sure that the beef served to customers is at the safe temperature.

Most vegetables are sourced from KSA-based Del Monte. Slivered onion and chopped lettuce come pre-packed in bags, ready to use. Being a cleanliness freak myself, I did not see anything alarming in the kitchen.

One thing that concerned me was the use of palm oil for frying. Palm oil has 52 percent saturated fats (Butter has 66 percent and sunflower oil has 11 percent for your reference). All the chicken patties, vegetable patties, chicken nuggets are fried in this oil.

We were told that McDonaldʼs filters the oil regularly and changes it after every 2-3 days. It might sound like good measure, but how many of us would be fine using the same oil to fry even fifth or sixth time in our kitchen. Point to ponder!

We also found that the chicken patties are ready to eat (read: pre-cooked) prior to flash-freezing. These frozen patties when reach the outlets are fried again before they go in a Mac. Phew! Double fried patties!

McDonaldʼs insists that the only additive they have in their food is salt and pepper. They also follow a guideline that fat content in food should not exceed 24 percent. I am not sure what it means, so I went to the website to get more nutritional information.

And boom! Indeed McDonalds is right about additives. Some of the breakfast items, sandwiches and burgers have whopping sodium content, as high as 70 – 90 percent of our dayʼs requirement. You can download a list of nutritional facts here. So what happens to your body if you get 90 percent of your sodium requirement in one meal?

I am looking forward to go to another McDonaldʼs kitchen without an appointment with the management. McDonald’s has been running its Open Kitchen Policy for a little more than three years now and claims to have hosted 5,000 visits. I’d like to if the standards are same.

Anyone can walk-in into some pre-designated McDonaldʼs outlets at specified times. I would encourage readers to go there and share their findings with everyone. You can find list of participating outlets at any McDonaldʼs outlet and also in the article written by Eva here.

The video on lettuce washed in a washing machine looks next to impossible, or maybe a one-off case since the kitchen in the video looks a lot like McDonaldʼs kitchen. McDonaldʼs seem to follow a culture of safety and hygiene on a regular basis. But will I eat a Big Mac again in near future? I am not sure as long as I am not pregnant and craving for one =).

Arti Gupta is a Managing Partner at Lead On Consultants, a consumer experience consulting firm.

Check out their blog here.

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  1. Watta KROC on February 15, 2012 9:14 am

    What a waste of time reading this article, nothing new and nothing in it, waw they fry in palm oil!!!! And they put salt? Unbelievable somebody pays this woman a salary to write this shit.

  2. nigel moore on February 15, 2012 11:42 am

    Sounds better than Burger King. I stopped going when I saw them deep frying my burger (to heat it) which had been sitting around pre-cooked in the kitchen.
    On a later visit with a friend (I refused to eat) I asked if they still did this – and they showed me that they now pre-cook the burgers and then leave them in a liquid bath in a warm area ready for serving.
    So much for fresh flame grilled burgers – avoid!

  3. OFiroz on February 15, 2012 5:44 pm

    McDonald managed to bribe Kipp or this women! Or Kipp must of got a life threat from Big Mac Bosses!!

  4. Jeeves on February 16, 2012 8:16 am

    @ OFiroz – I dont think Kipp or the writer of this article are trying to convince you to go and eat there. Or even telling all positive things about them. In fact it ends saying that the writer will not eat a Mac again? So how come it is bribed?
    Article is just factual and written without bias letting the reader decide what they want. I am sure all health conscious individuals have these concerns in mind when choosing to eat out.

  5. Anu on February 17, 2012 3:56 am

    If you eat same food of any kind for a month, even fruit, the human body will react adversely. No surprises on that. The article does tell us a some new things some good and some not so good. If the confident McDonald’s is opening their kitchen to the public, shouldn’t we applaud it rather than criticize? Afterall, not many have it in them to be challenged!

  6. ziad on February 17, 2012 9:53 am

    I have to say that alot of what is included in here is purely wrong and based on envy and bad intentions. I do not work for McDonald’s nor do I care much about their business, but I can assure you that there kitchen’s are cleaner than anyone of us when we are getting ready to serve the people they are, and their food quality and product quality is one of the best. Next time, please get your facts straight. I have been feeding my kids, and still do, once a week from mcd, since over 21 years ago. About Morgan’s movie, sure if you eat anything 3 times a day you will get harmed… all the QSR have enough stuff on their menu that are healthy, its up to us, the consumer, to balance what we eat and how we eat it..
    As a consumer voice, you should be careful what you say and how you say it.. as i am sure many people can say things about you that could be seen as pure defamation… which is exactly what you are doing.. have a life, and maybe you should start writing about things that really affects our life in dubai…

  7. Plamen on February 17, 2012 12:47 pm

    All is a matter of personal choice, isn’t it? well some time it happen to have no choice except staying hungry. You are not deserting your house everytime the winds blow the smoke from Jebel Ali in your direction. Can we blame a fastfood chain for our lowspeed brains? I never eat big meals and never eat all the serving. Is it so difficult to do two things together – to eat and to think!?

  8. Shaili on February 17, 2012 2:26 pm

    I am a bit amazed at the comments here. Seems like people have lost comprehension…or they comment without reading the whole thing. I personally liked the article. I find it balanced. It talks so many good things about McD and emphasizes again & again how they take care of cleanliness.

    Article also says that eating too much of any fries, burgers and high cal food is not good for you. I think it just makes you bit more conscious of what you eat. I personally did not know of the sodium content and after I read the article, I am more aware.

    I urge people to read before they comment on someone.
    @ Ziad This is no defamation to McD. This is just factual. Check the internet. You will find threads where people have mentioned stuff that you will not be able to take even a drink from McD. And I wonder how can you be so sure of their product quality? We would love to hear from you if you are aware of facts or it is your perception.

  9. Shameem BAcker on February 18, 2012 10:38 pm

    @ jeeves: I second you on the comments made and I believe being a reader we have the right to choose and eat what we want. I felt the article was to the point on what the writer experienced @ McDonalds. I find it very informative and got some real quality control meassures these food chain gaints follow.

    Good Job Arti,


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