Memorandum submitted by McDonald's Restaurants
1.1 McDonald's Restaurants Limited welcomes
the opportunity to contribute to the House of Commons Environment,
Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee's Inquiry into Food Information.
We are proud of the food that we serve in our restaurants and
we aim to deliver the UK's best quick service restaurant experience.
We are committed to serving hot, fresh, great tasting, good value
food to all our customers and providing them with the information
they need to make an informed choice from our menu.
1.2 We are conscious that eating habits
and lifestyles are changing, and that food choice and nutritional
issues are of increasing importance to our customers. We believe
that we have an important role to play in informing the two and
a half million customers whom we serve every day in a number of
The nutritional content of our food
Balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.
Food origin and means of production
(including ethical considerations).
1.3 In the pages that follow, we provide
further details about what we have done in the UK in each of these
important areas and what we currently have planned for the future.
2. ABOUT MCDONALD'S
2.1 McDonald's opened its first restaurant
in the UK in October 1974. We now have 1,235 restaurants in the
UK, representing a total investment in property and equipment
of over £1.6 billion. The Company employs over 45,000 people,
with over 25,000 more employed by McDonald's franchisees. We serve
food and drinks to around two and a half million customers in
the UK every day.
3. THE NUTRITIONAL
3.1 The McDonald's menu offers a choice
of food and drink made from basic ingredients including red and
white meat, fish, eggs, milk, grain and vegetables, all of which
are produced to the highest standards of quality and safety.
3.2 We are constantly looking at ways to
improve the nutritional value of our food and drink, whilst maintaining
the great taste that our customers enjoy. Our menu evolves over
time, reflecting the changing tastes of our customers. Fifteen
years ago, we did not have the choice of main meal and side salads,
grilled chicken, fish, mineral water, non-meat meals, diet drinks,
semi-skimmed organic milk, yoghurt and fruit that we now offer.
3.3 In recent years, we have made a number
of nutritional changes to our menu in response to customers' changing
needs, including the following:
Lard has been replaced in buns with
a smaller quantity of vegetable oil.
Mineral water, pure orange juice,
diet Coke and cartons of organic semi-skimmed milk are available
in all restaurants.
A low calorie sweetener is available
as an alternative to sugar.
The formulation of sauces has been
improved to reduce oil levels.
Cooking oil has been changed to reduce
the saturated and trans-fatty acid content.
Free-range eggs are used in all our
3.4 This has continued with further innovations
over the past 12 months including:
Introducing our new "Salads
Plus" range, which will ensure that convenient and affordable
main meal and side salads (including a choice of two warm grilled
chicken salads) will be available to more British people than
ever before. The range also includes a new grilled chicken sandwich,
Quorn sandwich, fruit and yoghurt dessert and apples.
Introducing organic semi-skimmed
milk that can be included as a part of a Happy Meal.
Introducing fruit bags in April 2003.
The 80g Happy Meal Fruit Bag is equivalent to one of the Department
of Health's five-a-day recommended daily intake of fruit and vegetables
and can be eaten as a dessert or swapped for French Fries in our
Happy Meal. Since their introduction we have become the largest
single retailer of pre-prepared fresh fruit in the UK and have
delivered more than 10 million portions of fruit to British customers.
Introducing other new choices within
the Happy Meals range such as Robinson's Fruit Shoot (a high juice,
no added sugar drink).
3.5 These changes stem from the on-going
dialogue we have with our customers and ensure that McDonald's
continues to provide them with what they wantmore choice
4.1 McDonald's supports the principle of
providing clear information to customers about our food and drinks.
We believe that many customers want to make informed individual
choices about the food and drinks that they consume in the context
of their whole diet and exercise regime.
4.2 The labels on all of our pre-packaged
foods of course contain nutritional information. However, our
efforts in relation to most menu items have been concentrated
on providing information to customers before they make their purchase.
Unlike supermarkets, for example, where food items can be picked
up and labels read before purchase, in the case of restaurants
serving hot, fresh food, at times made to individual preferences,
labels will not be seen until after the food has been served.
4.3 In 1984, we were the first UK quick
service restaurant company to provide customers with nutritional
guidance and ingredient information on all our food and drink.
The current version of this "Our Food" leaflet, which
is available in our restaurants. As well as nutritional information,
the leaflet contains full country of origin information wherever
possible, and full allergen information, in addition to our policies
on key food issues such as Genetic Modification.
4.4 This nutritional information is also
available on the McDonald's UK website (www.mcdonalds.co.uk),
alongside an interactive menu planner, via our Customer Services
Helpline and on the back of our trayliners for customers to take
away with them if they wish.
4.5 Also available in our restaurants is
our "five-a-day" leaflet, written by nutritionist Anita
Bean BSc, R.Nutr, which provides parents with easy-to-use guidance
in the form of facts and tips on ensuring that children eat five
portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
4.6 We are also in the process of introducing
nutritional training for our staff. We want to make sure that
our employees have all the information they need to make the right
choices for their lifestyle. Our ongoing Eat Smart, Be Active
campaign, aimed at customers and staff, gives guidance on healthy
eating, nutrition and physical exercise and will be incorporated
into our employee training programmes over the coming months (see
4.7 We also understand the desire for, so
far as practicable, a consistency of labelling applied across
the European Union, and McDonald's, as a representative of the
European Modern Restaurants Association (known as "EMRA"),
is an active participant in the food labelling issue, working
as part of the EU Food Labelling Steering Committee. The Committee,
made up of representatives from consumer organisations, industry
and euro-commerce, acts as an advisory group to the Commission,
looking at new approaches to food labelling.
4.8 We recognise the growing desire for
more information on the food we eat and we will continue to look
for new and innovative ways to communicate information to our
customers so as to improve its scope, clarity and accessibility.
We are currently testing a number of different approaches in different
markets across the world, and will closely monitor the response
of our customers. For example, our colleagues in the United States
are testing the provision of nutritional information on Happy
Meals in parent-approved and child-friendly ways, with the objective
of helping families make informed choices and learn ways to achieve
a good food/energy balance.
5. FOOD SAFETY
5.1 Food safety is of the utmost importance
to McDonald's. We serve two and a half million customers in the
UK every day and they trust and expect us to serve safe food.
We pride ourselves on core values such as quality, service and
cleanliness and have developed leading hygiene and food safety
systems over many years.
5.2 Our commitment to food safety encompasses
the entire supply chain from raw material production through to
our restaurants. As customers in our own right we demand high
standards of our suppliers. Our food and drinks are made to exacting
specifications and we work closely with our suppliers to ensure
that both the highest food quality and food safety procedures
are in place throughout the sourcing and production process (please
see further comments in paragraphs 6 & 7 below).
5.3 At restaurant level, our comprehensive
Crew Development Programme (CDP) trains our staff in food handling
and hygiene procedures. Observation checklists and regular audits
are used to ensure that correct procedures are followed and to
verify the effectiveness of the hygiene and safety training. Many
of our standards with regards to food safety exceed or significantly
exceed legal requirements.
5.4 The Company has a Hygiene and Safety
Department under the leadership of a Department Head with many
years experience in this area. We also utilise the services of
leading external consultants when required.
5.5 Lack of consumer understanding of the
supply chain can result in uninformed and specious criticism of
the food industry as well as confusion in the minds of the consumer
over food issues. It is therefore important that we inform our
customers about the safety and quality of our food in an accessible
and effective manner. We believe that such communications not
only promote our own standards, they also reinforce the general
importance of matters such as hygiene in food preparation.
5.6 In the autumn of 2003, we ran a programme
called "Open Doors", which allowed members of the public
to have a behind the scenes tour of McDonald's restaurants. One
hundred and twenty restaurants opened their doors to the public
to tell them more about our food, our people and to show them
how their meals are prepared within our restaurants. We will be
undertaking a larger "Open Doors" programme this year,
to coincide with National Food Safety Week between the 14 and
20 June, and will include visits to suppliers as part of the programme.
5.7 We also ran an advertisement in the
first part of 2004, featuring Chris Eubank, and focussing on the
hygiene and safety procedures that exist within our restaurants.
Most McDonald's advertising is about our food, but we know that
the public is also interested in clean restaurants and safe food.
We plan to run similar advertisements later in the year.
6. FOOD ORIGIN
& MEANS OF
6.1 Consumers expect the food chain to provide
diversity, choice and quality products at a reasonable price.
McDonald's serves as a conduit for the views of consumers at the
retail end of the food chain through regular consumer research
and focus groups. Those views are then channelled back so that
they are taken into consideration and addressed further up the
chain. Ours is, we believe, an enlightened, consumer-led approach
to the management of the supply chain.
6.2 The demands we place on our supply chain
are considerable. Our expectations are that the supply chain should
deliver quality, safe products that meet our standards, that these
are delivered reliably, efficiently and competitively priced,
and in the quantities that our customers require. The need for
traceability and product integrity has brought about a much closer
relationship between suppliers throughout the supply chain, particularly
6.3 In 2002, we launched the McDonald's
Agricultural Assurance Programme (know as "MAAP"), a
pan European programme that defines the standards we expect of
suppliers operating throughout our supply chain, that demands
high standards and best practice from farms and suppliers. Our
seven general policies determine the present and future development
of our primary supply chain with regards to:
6.4 For each product, a number of standards
define details for production throughout the food chain, from
pre-planting via cultivation methods, to harvest for arable crops,
and from feed mill and breeder animals, via husbandry including
all transport for food animals. These standards often exceed or
significantly legal requirements.
6.5 In our submission to the Curry Commission
in November 2001, we pointed out that one of the difficulties
which besets the food industry, at all levels of the supply chain,
is a lack of consumer understanding of how food makes the journey
from farm to fork, and the quality of much of the food that they
consume on a daily basis.
6.6 For this reason (and the reasons stated
in paragraph 5.5 above), through a number of campaigns McDonald's
has sought to inform consumers of the quality of the ingredients
used in our food and drinks, and to re-connect them with the supply
chain. Our quality campaign, which has been running since 2003
across various forms of media, has focused on our main ingredients,
including beef, eggs, potatoes and chicken.
6.7 In addition, our organic milk and and
free-range egg campaigns, which also ran throughout 2003, have
focused upon the means of production and in April 2003 we won
the Good Egg Award for our use of free-range eggs. Our switch
to organic semi-skimmed milk, and re-design of the packaging,
have seen our milk sales increase by 26% reflecting the general
public's growing interest in organic produce.
7. ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
7.1 An ethical and sustainable supply chain
is of utmost importance to McDonald's. A great deal of work is
already being undertaken by the industry with a view to identifying
alternative, sustainable and commercially viable farming methods.
Part of our approach in this area is through MAAP since the enforcement
of high standards and best practice from the farm to the point
of final sale by large players in the food industry, such as McDonald's,
is key to the maintenance of an ethical and sustainable supply
7.2 Each of our direct suppliers, wherever
they are located, is required to comply with McDonald's strict
code of conduct for suppliers that covers matters such as employment
practices. Deviations from this code are not permitted.
7.3 We use our "Our Food" leaflet
to inform customers about some of our sourcing policies, including
those on animal welfare and Genetically Modified produce, and
we are currently working with our suppliers on a supply chain
7.4 We are founder partners of the Food
Animal Initiative, a project founded to bring together top quality
scientists with farmers and the food industry to find solutions
to the issues and matters of social concern now facing the farming
industry. It aims to develop and promote practical and sustainable
agricultural practices, which will be good for animal welfare,
the environment and the public.
7.5 FAI operates on several sites across
the United Kingdom, but primarily from a farm close to Oxford.
FAI holds a number of open days and courses for the general public,
looking at how everyday foods are produced and incorporating a
tour of the working farm. In addition, there is an education service
running introductory courses on agriculture for children and providing
teachers that explain production systems and the issues relating
to the supply chain.
8.1 With food and nutrition issues taking
on a greater importance than ever before, it is important that
the consumer is able to make informed choices on all elements
of their diet and that they understand how these choices fit within
the context of their own lifestyle.
8.2 McDonald's has for many years provided
clear and relevant information about its food and drinks to customers
and is committed to seeking ways of improving the scope, clarity
and accessibility of this information.
8.3 McDonald's, with its considerable customer
base, can, and seeks to, play an important role in reconnecting
the consumer with all aspects of the supply chain and in educating
the consumer on issues related to food production and food preparation.
8.4 Programmes such as Open Doors and the
Food Animal Initiative have provided customers with first-hand
insights into our food practices and we have an ongoing programme
of communication through literature available in our restaurants,
advertising and promotions to ensure they are kept informed.
8.5 We are committed to working with Government
to promote better understanding of food issues amongst our customers
and the wider public.
19 April 2004