McDonald’s Responds After Maharashtra Food Administration Accuses It Of Using Fake Cheese

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McDonald's Responds After Maharashtra Food Administration Accuses It Of Using Fake Cheese

The crackdown prompted McDonald’s to remove the term “cheese” from products.

Following a crackdown by Maharashtra’s Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), fast food giant McDonald’s has assured customers that it only uses “genuine, high-quality cheese” in its products. The FDA accused McDonald’s of deceptive practices related to the use of cheese substitutes in its items. It suspended the licence of a McDonald’s outlet in Ahmednagar, saying that its investigation found that the fast food chain was using cheese analogues or proprietary foods instead of cheese. 

“We got some complaints and feedback from customers that McDonald’s and other food chains should declare the ingredients in their food items in a proper manner on menu cards and display boards,” the agency’s Commissioner, Abhimanyu Kale, told NDTV Profit on Friday.

“In our inspection, we found out they were using cheese analogues or proprietary foods instead of cheese. After observations, the outlets were closed by inspectors,” Mr Kale added. 

The agency, which conducted a month-long investigation last year, found that McDonald’s was using cheaper cheese substitutes like vegetable oil in burgers and nuggets. It accused the fast food chain of using cheese alternatives in several items without proper labelling, thereby misleading customers into thinking they were eating real cheese. The FDA, therefore, suspended the license of the Ahmednagar outlet and demanded that it disclose the correct ingredients in its menus and display boards as per Food Safety and Standards Authority India norms. 

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This prompted the fast food chain to remove the term “cheese” from various products. Westlife Foodworld Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hardcastle Restaurants Private Limited and operator of McDonald’s chains in West and South India, also released a statement in response to the report.

“Only genuine, high-quality cheese is used in all our cheese-containing products,” Westlife said. “We are actively engaging with the competent authorities on this issue and awaiting their final clarification,” the McDonald’s operator said.

“We have always been adhering to stringent food standards and are fully compliant with all applicable food laws. Our commitment to transparency in our ingredients and dedication to providing delicious, high-quality meals to our customers remains unwavering,” the statement added. 

Notably, this incident has also prompted the FDA to consider investigating other fast-food chains for similar practices. In a statement, Mr Kale said that the FDA will continue inspections of food outlets to ensure they comply with regulatory guidelines in the interest of customers. If necessary, the state authorities will communicate with the FSSAI for any nationwide action, he said.

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