McDonald's Has Removed Artificial Ingredients From Its Burgers

Promo image. McDonald's

The fast-food giant is trying to appeal to health-conscious clients by cutting out preservatives and fake colors.

McDonald's is ditching artificial ingredients in six of its most popular burgers. Effective immediately, the buns, American cheese slices, and Big Mac special sauce will no longer contain preservatives and fake colors, and patties will be made from 100 percent pure beef, with only salt and pepper added. The only exception is the pickle, which will remain artificially preserved for the time being.

Healthy Progress

The changes are part of the chain's effort to appeal to a more health-conscious clientele. As president for McDonald's U.S.-based business Chris Kempczinski said,

"Customers are becoming more demanding around really knowing what’s in their food. This development demonstrates our commitment to leading with the customer and building a better McDonald's."

While the changes may seem small, they add up due to McDonald's sheer size and influence. The company has 37,000 locations worldwide, with 14,000 in the United States, so when it makes menu changes, it has a major ripple effect throughout suppliers and the fast-food industry. Announcing that it would use only cage-free eggs in the U.S. and Canada by 2025 caused "an earthquake in the egg industry." And when it nixed margarine in its Egg McMuffins, suppliers "went into overdrive to make and ship millions of pounds of butter across the country."

The company has also transitioned to making fresh patties to order in most of its U.S. locations, cutting high-fructose corn syrup out of its buns, removing artificial preservatives from its Chicken McNuggets, and adding healthier beverage options like milk to its Happy Meals.

The move toward natural, pure ingredients is something to celebrate, for sure, but the way in which McDonald's serves its food still leaves much to be desired. Here on TreeHugger we've been writing a lot lately about the need to slow our eating habits, to eat fewer meals on the go, if we're serious about reducing food-related packaging waste. A meal eaten at home generates significantly less waste than one eaten for the sake of convenience in a hurry.

Room for Improvement

The only downside to this announcement? We won't be seeing as much photographic documentation of McDonald's food that never goes bad. Check out the Happy Meal Project by Sally Davies, a friend of TreeHugger's managing editor Melissa, who says it's now 8 years old and still looks the same. Davies wrote on Flickr:

"It lives in my living room, on a bookshelf, under glass. It has never been refrigerated. It has remained in my apartment since the first day, under various temperature conditions: from very cold to very hot and humid. It has never turned to mold or disintegrate. The meat and fries have turned to very hard material that feels similar to plastic."

Yum! Sounds like it's about time McDonald's changed that recipe.