McDonald's opens its doors to cameras for the first time

A screenshot from an ABC News report on a new campaign by US burger giant McDonald's to shine a light on its food and production methods. Global fast-food giant McDonalds has allowed cameras inside one of its plants for the first time in an effort to
A screenshot from an ABC News report on a new campaign by US burger giant McDonald's to shine a light on its food and production methods. Global fast-food giant McDonalds has allowed cameras inside one of its plants for the first time in an effort to put to rest fears over its products. -- PHOTO: ABC NEWS
A screenshot from an ABC News report on a new campaign by US burger giant McDonald's to shine a light on its food and production methods. Global fast-food giant McDonalds has allowed cameras inside one of its plants for the first time in an effort to
A screenshot from an ABC News report on a new campaign by US burger giant McDonald's to shine a light on its food and production methods. Global fast-food giant McDonalds has allowed cameras inside one of its plants for the first time in an effort to put to rest fears over its products. -- PHOTO: ABC NEWS

Global fast-food giant McDonald's has allowed cameras inside one of its plants for the first time in an effort to put to rest fears over its production methods and rumours over "pink slime" chicken nuggets.

Doors were thrown open at the Fresno, California food plant in the United States to a news crew from ABC News' Good Morning America (GMA) by the world's largest burger chain.

As part of a new push towards more transparency for its customers, the Big Mac maker is inviting members of the public to write in and ask whatever they want to know about its massive operations and products.

"We're starting on a journey called 'Our Food. Your Questions,' and we want to open up the doors and let our customers ask us any questions they have, and give them answers," says company director of quality systems Rickette Collins to GMA.

Company chief brand manager Kevin Newell told GMA: "This is being done to address the questions, the comments and the concerns of our customers... It's not linked to the business performance at all. It's linked to making sure that our customers truly know the story about McDonald's food."

McDonald's says people can submit questions via social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Questions will be answered on social media.

Unappetising rumours that have dogged the chain in the past include claims that its burgers don't rot - remaining intact after several weeks or even years. On its webpage, McDonald's says this could be due to the food becoming dehydrated, and that food needs moisture to form mould.

Another somewhat outlandish claim is that worms are used in the meat. McDonald's response? "No. Gross! End of story." 

The company also dismisses claims that it uses human meat on Twitter, telling a user "@seph725 that's gross and totally false." 

Inside the production plant, the crew witnessed how 181 tonnes of meat a day are processed and confirmed that their burger patties are 100 per cent pure beef.

On its website, the company also denies that it uses "pink slime" in chicken nuggets, saying: "No, our Chicken McNuggets do not contain what some people call 'pink slime' or 'pink goop.

"We've seen the photo of 'pink goop' or 'pink slime' in association with McDonald's. Let's set the record straight: this image in connection with McDonald's is a myth. In fact, we don't know where it came from, but it's not our food. The photo is not a representation of how we create our Chicken McNuggets, or for that matter, any item on our menu."

However, elsewhere McDonald's admits on the site that, "We use a small amount of an anti-foaming agent, dimethylpolysiloxane, in the oil we use to cook our Chicken McNuggets."

It also reveals that "pink slime" was used from 2004 to 2011 for burgers, and that the chemical azodicarbonamide - which is used in yoga mats - is an ingredient in buns and rolls.

"There are varied uses for azodicarbonamide, including in some non-food products, such as yoga mats. As a result, some people have suggested our food contains rubber or plastic, or that the ingredient is unsafe. It's simply not the case. Think of salt: the salt you use in your food at home is a variation of the salt you may use to de-ice your sidewalk. The same is true of ADA - it can be used in different ways."

McDonald's also confesses to using hormones on its website, saying "Most of the cattle we get our beef from are treated with added hormones, a common practice in the US that ranchers use to promote growth."

The new push comes as McDonald's fights to boost its performance in the US, where sales slid 1.5 per cent at established locations in the most recent quarter, following a 0.2 per cent dip for last year, according to figures in the Daily Mail.

As Naomi Starkman, editor-in-chief of civileats.com, says in the GMA report: "I think McDonald's is deciding to lift the curtain because of market share. Millennials are now driving the food bus and they're heading straight to other establishments that are offering better, healthier fare and they're trying to catch up."