McDonald’s is confronting its public image problem in a way that only McDonald’s can: throwing back the curtain on the mysterious McNuggetification process.
In response to a consumer’s question about whether McNuggets contain “pink goop,” the chain’s Canada headquarters released a video last week that provides a look inside supplier Cargill’s facility in London, Ont. Bins of chicken breasts are shown going into grinders before being shaped, breaded, and packaged. The same process is used in the U.S., according to the company.
“Our latest videos aim to combat the misinformation and tell the truth about this iconic product–that Chicken McNuggets are made from chicken breast, a few seasonings, along with a natural proportion skin, used both for flavour and as a binder,” said McDonald’s spokeswoman Gema Rayo in an e-mail. The footage was also shown on Canadian television during the Super Bowl.
According to the ingredient list for McDonald’s Canada (PDF), the menu item is made from nothing more than chicken breast, water, modified corn starch, salt, seasoning, and natural rosemary extract. Those materials are then breaded with water, wheat flour, yellow corn flour, modified corn starch, spices, salt, baking powder, dextrose, wheat starch, corn starch, and modified hydrogenated soybean oil. The finished nuggets are fried in vegetable oil.
Curiosity about the making of McNuggets isn’t a new publicity challenge for the fast-food chain. McDonald’s Canada has previously released a video about how McNuggets are made, and the company gave a select group of American moms a McNugget tour at the Keystone Foods plant in 2008.
In the U.S., comparable sales were down 0.2 percent in 2013 and revenue was flat. Among other plans, the chain is focused on improving consumer perception of its food by, for example, committing to sourcing (and defining) “sustainable beef.”
“The thing that you’ll see changed a bit is we are being much stronger relative to communicating about our brand, communicating about our food,” Chief Executive Officer Don Thompson said during an earnings call in October. “Customers want to hear more about transparency. They want to hear about provenance and where the food is from.”