The MQC is a group of five "everyday moms" who are taken on field trips behind the scenes to explore the food quality, safety and nutritional value of McDonald's menu items. The moms then share what they learn with other moms and interested parties through online journals, photos, videos and regular Q&A sessions (http://www.mcdonaldsmoms.com).
Launched last year, MQC's 2008 schedule includes exploring the McDonald's Innovation Center; visiting farm fields and processing supplier facilities for Chicken McNuggets and French fries; meeting with McDonald's nutritionists, innovation and operations experts; and learning about the Ronald McDonald House Charities.
This week, the moms visited a potato supplier farm in Pasco, Wash.--Lamb Weston--and met with the supplier's research and development VP to learn about the new 0-gram TFA canola oil blend developed by McDonald's and its suppliers for cooking fries.
A typical mom comment from the trip: "We saw first-hand that not every potato meets McDonald's standards to become McDonald's French fries. In fact, they use several varieties of potatoes, such as the popular Russet Burbank, and the potatoes used naturally provide a fresh-baked potato taste. At the restaurant, they are lightly salted before serving--nothing else is added."
A previous field trip, to a chicken processing unit, elicited comments such as: "What surprised me most was that Chicken McNuggets are made of grounded breast meat, not strips. This explains their internal texture." Another: "Going through the experience has given me more confidence that when I take my kids to McDonald's, they are receiving the safest, highest-quality foods they can possibly have."
More than 4,000 mothers applied to be among the handful who were ultimately selected for MQC through a third-party national online recruitment process, and more than 12,000 users are currently following the group's activities online, according to McDonald's.
Similar groups have also been formed in Canada and by regional restaurants in Baltimore and Los Angeles, according to Tara Hayes, manager of the MQC program.
The groups are helping to get the word out credibly about McDonald's food quality, fresh ingredients and safety standards, says Hayes, who notes that all of the journal and online entries are "the moms' own words--nothing is edited."
"There are a lot of myths out there about McDonald's products, and we wanted to dispel these," she adds. "We will continue to give the moms open, honest access to how the products are made and build on their knowledge going forward."