Chef’s Table By Michael Formichella
Chef Michael Formichella is president and co-owner of Chella Foods.

Transparency: “Just ask”

(The views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the author.)

Is it real beef? Why are the burgers so cheap? Do the beef patties include "pink slime"? Do McNuggets contain all the parts of a chicken?

Mickey D’s goes to the street with straight talk in 2014. I must say they are coming up with some interesting ad campaigns these days. From their most simple ad campaign, a single picture with no words, just single icon pictures of their menu offerings. There are the billboards along many highways in America, bus stop posters, and even You Tube videos. This week, Good Morning America/ABC news was touting McDonalds transparency and their “Just ask” campaign, commercials showing Americans asking McDonalds any question they want to.

I must commend McDonald's and Cargill for opening their doors to let the public see snippets of how the burgers are made, showing the large pieces of 100% beef trim flowing down a conveyer belt to the grinding side of the operation. The video shows the patties being formed and flash frozen then placed onto the packaging area where they are boxed up. All beef, no additives, no ammonia, no fillers — no funny stuff, just 100% beef being made into McDonald's patties. They are debunking all of the misconceived ideas about their products. Like, do they feed the chickens hormones that are used to make the nuggets? They speak to the process, to the batter breading systems and how they are processed.

Do you think this is the correct direction our industry should be heading? Will these insights open the door for other manufacturers to show case just how some of our food is made? Heck, when I was running a plant I was proud of the people I worked with and the facility we ran together. 

I discussed this topic with another chef who brought up an interesting observation: Kudos to McDonald's marketing division for posturing McDonald's as one of the first major players to embrace transparency. I must acknowledge the brilliance of the campaign to make the skeptics less suspicious about the fast food industry. It won’t change everyone’s view but it certainly is a step in the correct direction. The other comment was that, of course, this campaign's focus was designed to increase traffic at McDonald’s. I acknowledge some of McDonald’s choices are still a high-calorie meal no matter how transparent; those are personal choices we all make. It’s a marketing campaign so addressing the nutritional aspects and what eating these items will do to your waistline would be silly. As dad would say to us as we were growing up, “Everything in moderation and nothing in excess.” Will you be eating more Mc D’s soon? Is a Big Mac in your near future? Live well…


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