McDonald's USA will replace corn syrup in hamburger buns with sugar this month and has removed antibiotics that are important to human medicine from its chicken months ahead of schedule, moves that are part of its drive to target increasingly health-conscious consumers.
The fast food company also said it eliminated artificial preservatives from Chicken McNuggets and several breakfast items, including scrambled eggs.
McDonald's is reacting to a shift in consumer tastes toward healthier, more natural foods and competing with other restaurants that are overhauling their menus to feature items free of processed ingredients.
McDonald's USA President told reporters at the company's headquarters that the changes will affect about half its menu and more adjustments would follow.
Some consumers have turned away from products containing high-fructose corn syrup, which is derived from corn starch, because of concerns it may be linked to obesity.
Artificial preservatives also to be removed from some menu items
McDonald's stopped adding an artificial preservative to the cooking oil used to make Chicken McNuggets and removed artificial preservatives from pork sausage patties, eggs served on McGriddles breakfast sandwiches and scrambled eggs on breakfast platters.
It also removed chicken skin, safflower oil and citric acid from the meat of its McNuggets, swapping them for pea starch, rice starch and powdered lemon juice.
Extra costs related to the changes will not be passed on to consumers, partly because a decline in commodity prices has reduced some food expenses.
McDonald's had previously planned to stop buying chicken raised with antibiotics important to human medicine from its suppliers, Tyson Foods Inc. and Keystone Foods, by March 2017.
It completed the change earlier due to quicker than expected work by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which helped to verify that birds were not given the drugs.
Some health experts have raised concerns that the overuse of antibiotics for poultry may diminish their effectiveness in fighting disease in humans. (McDonald’s Canada will source chicken raised without antibiotics that are important to human medicine by the end of 2018.)
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