Fast food chain McDonald’s Arabia has no horsemeat in any of its products, confirmed Yousif Abdulghani, managing director, McDonald’s Middle East and Africa.
“We are very confident that we have no horsemeat because we comply with all the local and regional quality standards,” he told reporters in Dubai.
“We don’t source from Europe, and also have very strict internal standards, so I can assure you that we only use 100 per cent beef products,” he said.
The horsemeat scandal broke out in January this year when Ireland’s Food Safety Authority said that that it found traces of horse DNA in beefburgers sold by some of the UK’s largest supermarket chains.
Since then, horsemeat has been found in beef products in France, Austria, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Belgium and Italy.
Last week, US-based fast food chain Taco Bell was forced to withdraw its beef products in British and Spanish outlets after tests found they contained more than 10 per cent of horse DNA.
However, Abdulghani guaranteed that McDonald’s products in the GCC were certified halal and were thoroughly tested for quality. “We are open and transparent and have nothing to hide,” he added.
In a new measure adopted to increase its transparency, the company also announced that it would start publishing nutritional information about its products on the packaging.
“We are the first quick-service restaurant to provide this information and we are being proactive because we are committed to transparency,” he said.
However, Abdulghani clarified that the new measure had nothing to with the horsemeat scandal.
“We have been working on enforcing this initiative for the last three years and it was a labourious and time-consuming process because we source products from different places,” he said.
The company already publishes nutrition information on its food tray mats, and also has the information available on its website and on a newly-launched mobile app.
“People care about health and demand transparency. The customer is key and we want to present them with all the information to help them make a choice.
“We also regularly optimise the menu depending on consumer needs,” he said, adding however that the company was not particularly looking at transforming its menu completely. “We are not a health company,” he said.
The company has introduced two to three salad options in the main menu and its popular ‘Happy Meal’ for children now offers the choice of fresh juice or milk instead of a soft drink and apple slices instead of french-fries.
Abdulghani admitted that they had not seen any “major shift” in customer preference for the healthier options and that most preferred french-fries.
McDonald’s Arabia serves around 900,000 customers each day in the GCC through its 369 outlets. The plan is to add a further 216 restaurants across the region by 2015, added Abdulghani.