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The Next Step on Our Food Journey: The Seven Classic Burgers

September 26, 2018

McDonald's Food Journey

Download our Food Journey Timeline

Since 2014, McDonald’s USA has been on a food journey. We’ve been laser-focused on using our size and scale to implement meaningful changes across our entire menu, changes that we know are important to our customers, our franchisees, our people and our planet. We’ve evolved everything from when we serve certain items, to how we cook our beef patties, to the ingredients we use across our menu. And now, we’ve taken that journey to new heights.

On September 26, 2018, we announced that all of our classic burgers have no artificial preservatives, no artificial flavors and no added colors from artificial sources. Our pickle contains an artificial preservative, so skip it if you like.

The changes impact all seven classic burgers*:

  • The hamburger
  • The cheeseburger
  • The double cheeseburger
  • The McDouble®
  • The Quarter Pounder® with Cheese
  • The Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese
  • The Big Mac®

“This development demonstrates our commitment to leading with the customer and building a better McDonald’s,” said Chris Kempczinski, McDonald’s USA President. “We know quality choices are important to our customers. From switching to 100 percent fresh beef in our quarter-pound burgers, cooked right when ordered in a majority of our restaurants, to removing artificial preservatives in our Chicken McNuggets®, we’ve made significant strides in evolving the quality of our food—and this latest positive change to our classic burgers is an exciting part of that story.”  

Seven Classic Burgers

Since 2016, McDonald’s has more than tripled the number of burgers and sandwiches* on its national menu** that contain no artificial preservatives, no artificial flavors and no added colors from artificial sources. Our pickle contains an artificial preservative, so skip it if you like. To achieve this change, artificial preservatives were removed from our real American Cheese, Big Mac Special Sauce®, the regular Bun, Quarter-Pounder Bun and Big Mac Bun.

Real American Cheese

The American cheese on all of our classic burgers is made with a blend of real cheese, including Cheddar and Colby, and other ingredients including salt, cream and color, but never oil, starch or fillers. Our American Cheese is made with no added colors from artificial sources and now no sorbic acid, an artificial preservative.

Big Mac Special Sauce

We’ve simplified the Big Mac Special Sauce ingredients without sacrificing that signature taste—by removing artificial preservatives including potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate and calcium disodium EDTA.

The Buns

We removed calcium propionate, an artificial preservative, from our regular, Quarter Pounder and Big Mac buns. The buns on our classic burgers are toasted and have no artificial flavors or added colors from artificial sources, and now also have no artificial preservatives.

The Beef

All of our beef patties are made from 100 percent pure beef—that means no additives, preservatives or fillers—and seasoned with only a pinch of salt and pepper. Earlier in 2018, we took things a step further: the beef patties on our quarter-pound burgers are made from 100 percent fresh beef and cooked when ordered in a majority of our US restaurants, every time.

Removing artificial preservatives from our seven classic burgers is just the latest of our U.S. customer-driven initiatives. Previous commitments include sustainably sourcing all McCafé® coffee by 2020 and transitioning to cage-free eggs in the US and Canada by 2025. By 2020, we have also committed to sourcing a portion of our beef from our top 10 beef-sourcing countries from suppliers participating in sustainability programs aligned with the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef principles and criteria.

It’s all about building a better McDonald’s.


*National burgers and sandwiches only.  Excludes local and limited time burgers and sandwiches.

** Comparison based on the number of burger and sandwiches on the national Menu Board on August 1, 2016 and September 26, 2018 that contain no artificial preservatives, flavors and no added colors from artificial sources.