No More Cheesy Business: FDA Tells McDonald's After Finding Use Of Cheap Substitutes

The Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has targeted fast-food giant McDonald’s for allegedly using cheese substitutes, known as cheese analogues, in their food products. This action led to the suspension of the license of a McDonald’s outlet in Ahmednagar and prompted the chain to remove the word “cheese” from various menu items.

What Happened? Cheese analogues, designed to mimic the taste and texture of dairy cheese, often contain vegetable oil. The FDA has accused McDonald’s of failing to properly disclose the use of these substitutes on labels and display boards, misleading customers into believing they were consuming real cheese.

FDA Commissioner Abhimanyu Kale, speaking to the Times of India, emphasized the seriousness of this omission, highlighting the potential health implications and the deception of consumers. During inspections, officials found no mention of cheese analogues in items like ‘cheese nuggets’, ‘cheesy dip’, and ‘cheese burger’. Kale hinted at a broader investigation, as this practice might be common in other fast-food chains.

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The issue came to light in October when inspectors at McDonald’s Kedgaon branch found products containing cheese analogues. Despite McDonald’s challenging the FDA’s actions, the agency suspended the outlet’s license due to an unsatisfactory explanation.

The FDA has since ordered clear labelling of products with cheese substitutes, including distinct font sizes and colours, and the display of nutritional information like fat and protein content.

Responding to the controversy, McDonald’s India (W&S) assured customers of using real cheese in their products and stated they are working with authorities on this matter. They shared letters from cheese suppliers asserting the authenticity of their cheese sauce. However, some outlets have already started displaying new names for products previously labelled with “cheese”.

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