Saturday, December 13, 2008

O.C. Register's Nancy Luna Investigates McDonald's Farm & Factories

Nancy Luna, good friend of The McChronicles, fast food maven blogger, and reporter for Orange County California's O.C. Register, just released a two-part series that explores one-each of the farms and factories responsible for McDonald's foods. We just finished reviewing the stories and slide shows - and The McChronicles loves it! Great job, Nancy.

In Part 1, "Fresh Buns: How Does McDonald's Get Them?", Nancy visits Brea, California-based Fresh Start Bakeries, and witnesses the entire bun manufacturing process. That's Nancy, all suited up, in the top image.

This tour of the company's Ontario, CA facility, was led by Plant Manager, Bob Mitchell. Bob's new $22-million facility cranks out 14.4 million buns per week! Nancy was joined by visiting nutritionists and they saw it all.

One segment of the tour was led by McDonald's head of U.S. Supply Chain Management, Todd Bacon. Quoting from Nancy's report, "Bacon, who holds a doctorate in "meat science," discussed the strict controls and guidelines McDonald's places on vendors and suppliers. Rules apply for just about any kind of scenario along the food chain — from how to treat a sick broiler chicken to requiring hot buns to pass through metal detectors." Good stuff.

This report includes a very interesting slide show (pix snapped by Nancy). It is worth the read. You'll even grab an awesome trivia point: How many sesame seeds adorn a sesame seed bun? The answer is in the slide show.

In Part 2 of the two-part series, titled, McDonald's: Let-tuce Assure You of Quality, Nancy visits lettuce supplier Taylor Farms, in California's Salinas Valley. She opens her story with, "I will never look at a McDonald's salad the same way again."

Nancy is no stranger to food safety and related health issues. As a reporter, she has covered this beat for years. She has a keen eye for the issue. So, impressing her is quite a feat. Nancy reports, "Taylor's safety reputation is considered to be the "gold standard" of the Salinas Valley with its plant subject to 62 audits a year."

According to Nancy, "We saw everything from the hearty green leaf lettuces used in Angus burgers to delicate, red oaks found in the chain's entree salads."

Nancy was joined by other industry professionals on this tour and shared this:

Mary Barbour, a Los Angeles dietitian and tour participant, said she was impressed by the level of care taken "at every stage" of the growing and packing process. She also noted that the spring mix varieties mirrored selections used in salads found at top, fine-dining restaurants.

"The next time I'm craving a gourmet salad, I'll go to McDonalds knowing the quality of care that is placed in every serving," she told me after the tour.

For more on Nancy's detailed experience at the farm, read the second part of her story. A slide show accompanies this segment, too.

The McChronicles really appreciates the effort that Nancy invested to capture and deliver this excellent two-part story. We also appreciate McDonald's increasingly open and transparent stance regarding sharing information with the public. Name another fast food purveyor that even comes close to this level of openness.

The McChronicles: a blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
Images: Nancy Luna.


JW said...

I love her writing!

Anonymous said...

There is no comment on the pesticides and preservatives used. Whether the crops are rotated to ensure the best nutrients in the soil. There is also no mention of the farms the beef and poultry come from. What are those food sources pumped full of?

Fast Food Maven said...

Ok, so I didn't get down and dig in the ground with farmer Dave...but, I see your point. I'm not sure my audience cares about the types of "pesticides" used, thus no mention. Clearly, McDonald's does not use organic produce, so of course, pesticides are used. My intent was to focus on the journey of the lettuce -- from field to fork.

BigD said...

In the late '80's I was a teenaged swing manager at an Ohio McDonald's. Another manager and I dropped in on our bun supplier (Klosterman Bakery) and were treated like gold. We explained who we were--and that we were there as tourists only--but still were welcomed as if we were Ray Kroc himself.

Another bun memory I'll always have is of a crew member's funny reaction to every request to stock the buns. He would always reply, "Sure, I'll stalk the buns" and then he would proceed to sneak up on them as a stalker would. It never got old.

Great article, Fast Food Maven.


Geat colorful pictures.