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OAK BROOK, ILL. (Reuters) – McDonald’s Corp (MCD.N) will replace corn syrup in hamburger buns with sugar this month and has removed antibiotics that are important to human medicine from its chicken months ahead of schedule, it said on Monday, moves that are part of its drive to target increasingly health-conscious consumers.
The fast food company also said it eliminated artificial preservatives from Chicken McNuggets and several breakfast items, including scrambled eggs.
McDonald’s is reacting to a shift in consumer tastes toward healthier, more natural foods and competing with other restaurants that are overhauling their menus to feature items free of processed ingredients.
McDonald’s USA President Mike Andres told reporters at the company’s headquarters that the changes announced on Monday will affect about half its menu and more adjustments would follow.
Some consumers have turned away from products containing high-fructose corn syrup, which is derived from corn starch, because of concerns it may be linked to obesity.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said it is unaware of any differences in the safety of foods containing equal amounts of corn syrup and sugar, or sucrose.
McDonald’s is “following the customers” in switching to sucrose in buns used on Big Macs, Quarter Pounders, hamburgers and other sandwiches, said Marion Gross, senior vice president of McDonald’s North America supply chain.
McDonald’s stopped adding an artificial preservative to the cooking oil used to make Chicken McNuggets and removed artificial preservatives from pork sausage patties, eggs served on McGriddles breakfast sandwiches and scrambled eggs on breakfast platters.
It also removed chicken skin, safflower oil and citric acid from the meat of its McNuggets, swapping them for pea starch, rice starch and powdered lemon juice.