Spurlock writes the following of a McDonalds hamburger:
"It tastes kinda like meat, but more like an industrialized meat-flavored substitute."He then spends a paragraph detailing what he feels are the more unappetizing features of a McDonalds hamburger patty.
In truth, McDonalds' hamburgers are made with 100% beef (scroll down to the "beef patty" ingredients). It is USDA inspected. The restaurant adds salt and pepper after cooking. That's it. No additives or preservatives. No filler. No beef flavor enhancers.
However in this writer's opinion, it's true, McDonalds hamburgers don't taste nearly as good as they once did. But that isn't because the company uses anything other than beef. It's because the beef they are using is leaner than it once was. Several years ago, the chain capitulated to nutrition activists, and began to use leaner ground beef in its hamburgers. The result? A less juicy, less savory, slightly more rubbery beef patty. That's why your local, independent burger joint probably tastes better (that, and the fact that McDonalds has no choice but to freeze its beef -- many smaller operators use never-frozen beef).
The funny thing is, the decision to put a healthier product on the market once again put McDonalds on the business end of an Internet rumor campaign. Outside the U.S., the company tends to use leaner, grass-fed beef in its stores. Here in the U.S., McDonalds buys almost all of its beef domestically. Problem is, the U.S. doesn't produce nearly enough grass-fed beef. And even the supply of grain-fed beef has dwindled of late. So several years ago, McDonalds started a limited pilot program looking at buying leaner, slightly cheaper foreign beef to supplement its domestic supply. This put some U.S. cattle ranchers in a tizzy, and touched off an Internet rumor campaign that vastly exaggerated just how much the beef the company planned to buy overseas (all of which, by the way, is USDA inspected).
This is all a fine example of the damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-do don't public relations conundrums that face U.S. businesses. McDonalds got attacked for serving fatty, greasy (but delicious!) burgers. In response, the company made the effort to buy leaner beef, which put a dent in its sales. In response, McDonalds caught heat not only from domestic beef producers, but from people like Spurlock, who not only ridicule the leaner beef patty, but imply that it's not really meat at all.