Fast Food

McDonald's switching to fresh beef in its Quarter Pounders

McDonald's is taking a page from the Wendy's playbook.

McDonald's is taking a page from the Wendy's playbook.  (AP/Gene J. Puskar)

Coming soon to McDonald's: fresh beef.

The fast food giant said Thursday that it will swap frozen beef patties for fresh ones in its Quarter Pounder burgers by sometime next year at most of its U.S. locations. Employees will cook up the never-frozen beef on a grill when ordered.

That has been the biggest selling point at rival Wendy's. Yet there are larger forces at work that have prompted other menu changes at McDonald's, known for decades more for the billions of people that it has served, rather than its culinary choices.

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The world's largest hamburger chain for some time has been attempting to improve its image as more people shun processed foods.

It has tinkered with its recipes, removed artificial preservatives from chicken McNuggets, and removed high fructose corn syrup from its buns.

The company is trying to stem a streak of adverse trends that led to an executive shakeup two years ago. The company brought in Steve Easterbrook as CEO to steer the company in a more promising direction. It's an ongoing endeavor.

Earlier this month, McDonald's acknowledged that it lost 500 million customer transactions in the U.S. since 2012, mainly to other fast food rivals.

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McDonald's Corp., based in Oak Brook, Ill,, tested the fresh beef Quarter Pounders at more than 400 restaurants in Dallas and Tulsa, Okla., for about a year before rolling out the changes nationally. By the middle of 2018, the fresh beef will come to most of its 14,000 U.S. locations, except those in Alaska, Hawaii and some airport locations.