Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My Tour of McDonald's

I was invited to tour one of the new McDonald's restaurants and meet their corporate chef, Dan Coudreaut. The main focus, as you can see in the flyer above, was to "See What We're Made Of"! In the flyer's description, you can read that it uses the word WHOLESOME. And at the top of the flyer you can see the fresh fruits and vegetables. Right off the bat, my nutrition spidey sense is saying that McDonald's is going to attempt to sell me on their "healthy food". Well, here went the afternoon:

After meeting the owners and manager of this new McDonald's, Chef Dan explained his culinary background. You can read that here. While I can appreciate that when setting up a visit or tour, you want to put your best food forward by scheduling it at your newest store. I was a tad disappointed as I wanted to be in an old, downtown store where I could slide across the kitchen on the grease. Oh well, on to the food tour!

The new oatmeal with fresh blueberries and nuts. Both are prepackaged so that you can customize your order. I was somewhat impressed with this ain't slow cooked, steel cut oats but it's not horrible.

The real fruit smoothies that are made with real fruit puree and yogurt. Sure, the fruit in the fruit puree is real, but check out the amount of sugar in this "healthy" smoothie: 44grams in a 12 ounce smoothie. Guess how much sugar is in 12 ounces of Mt Dew? 46 grams. Sure as heck don't go for the large!

The real apple slices that are given out in every happy meal and the french fries in a smaller than happy meal sized. 

The No Trans Fat oil that they fry in. Fried is fried...trans fat or no trans fat.

The whole grain bun available for the chicken sandwiches. The only three buns I can find on the menu ingredient list are Sesame Buns, Bakery Style Bun and Regular Bun. I am assuming that the Bakery Style Bun is the "whole grain bun". After reading the ingredients, whole wheat flour is number three in the ingredient list after enriched flour and water.

The chicken products that are 10% less in sodium. When asked how the sodium was decreased, Chef Dan responded "changes in the marinade". I have to wonder though, the chicken that comes off that hot grill is flatter than any chicken breast I have ever seen. So I asked Chef Dan what type of chicken meat he used (implying that it was a processed piece of meat) but he couldn't give me that information.

The all beef patties: 1/4, 1/3, happy meal size. In all of the ingredient lists, I see that the beef is listed as 100% Beef. My question to Chef Dan was, "What is the fat content of the meat you use? Is it lean like 90/10 of fattier like 70/30." Again, his answer was that he couldn't give my that information - "Wouldn't my competitor like to know that."

The fresh salads, fresh vegetables, and fresh ingredients. I heard this a lot on the tour....FRESH. Unfortunately when I hear "fresh", I have an automatic response to feel that this "fresh something" is healthy.

After the experience, I honestly feel (don't judge) that McDonald's is making an effort to add healthier choices to their menu for those on the go that need something to eat. I know that the vegans aren't running to McDonald''s not their end destination, nor will it ever be. Those that have kids, those that are traveling or those that feel they are getting a good deal for their money will continue to go to McDonald's and they might even pick something healthier. (Notice my choice of words....Healthier. Not healthy. McDonald's is giving you a additional choices that are healthier than another choice on their menu.)

My fear is that this new marketing campaign of wholesome and fresh is going to trick the public into thinking that eating at McDonald's day in and day out is healthy. I am encouraged that Chef Dan has a vision for what can be healthier. If McDonald's really wants to set the bar in fast food as a healthier choice restaurant, then publish the calories and fat grams right on the menu/price board. Let it all hang out!

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