The Truth About Pink Slime and Other Things McDonalds' CEO Wants Moms to Know

Jan Fields
Jan Fields, Lindsay Ferrier, and Cindy Goody

At the BlogHer conference in New York, I was offered a chance to sit down with McDonalds CEO Jan Fields for a one-on-one interview. Nothing was off the table. Anything could be discussed.

And Jan Fields didn't hold back. Along with McDonalds nutritionist Cindy Goody, she discussed topics ranging from pink slime to the debate over whether McDonalds is contributing to the obesity epidemic.

Check out all she had to say after the jump -- then let us know in the comments what you think!

I knew the question for McDonalds on most moms' minds has got to be about the pink slime rumors. Who among us hasn't seen the infamous pink slime photo on Facebook?

As it turned out, I didn't even need to broach the subject -- Jan Fields brought it up on her own, after I asked her which rumors she'd most like to dispel.

For starters, that pink slime photo we've all seen online is a fake. “It is actually a meat production plant in China that we don’t even use,” Jan said. She also said that 'pink slime' has never been used in McDonalds' chicken nuggets.

“Our chicken nugget is a piece of chicken," she told me. "It’s a whole muscle chicken. I’ve been to the plant. I’ve gone all the way from 'the chicken' to 'eating the nugget' process and there’s nothing added to it. There’s the breading, of course. The chicken is formed, cut, and then it goes through the breading process and then a freezing process. There is nothing ever added.

Pink slime (which is technically called 'boneless lean beef trimmings') has been used in burgers by fast food restaurants and in hot dogs, but early this year, many major chains including McDonalds, Taco Bell, Kroger, and Burger King, announced they would no longer carry products that use BLBT. You can read more about the facts vs. fiction regarding pink slime on

Another thorn in Jan Fields' side is the accusation that McDonalds is responsible for the obesity epidemic. “I think that notion that we’re the cause of it is misguided because you choose what you’re going to eat," she said, adding that the average person eats at McDonalds only once or twice a month. Meanwhile, nutritionist Cindy Goody pointed out that 80 percent of the items on McDonalds' menu are under 400 calories -- a fact McDonalds is promoting right now with its 'Favorites Under 400 Calories' Olympics promotion.

Something that has impressed me lately about McDonalds is its redesign of the Happy Meal, which now has 20 percent fewer calories. Fries have been reportioned to a 100-calorie serving, apples are automatically included with the meal, and the caramel dipping sauce is gone. "Portion control is a big issue," Jan explained when we talked about the new Happy Meal. "And so by changing that portion to what was reasonable for a child, whether a 2-year-old or a 5-year-old, it satisfied portion control and fit within the recommended daily allowance for a meal.” As a mom, I'm pleased with the change, although it unfortunately means there are far less fries for me to steal when my kids aren't looking! McDonalds also is looking into making its snack wraps a Happy Meal option, which I think is a fabulous idea. Do it, McD's. DO IT!

Other interesting facts I learned during my time spent with Jan Fields:

-McDonalds has reduced the sodium in its chicken nuggets by 20 percent since 2003, without affecting the taste. Ten percent of that sodium reduction happened just during the last year.

-If you have a problematic (or fantastic) McDonalds near you, don't hesitate to call the corporate customer service number (1-800-244-6227) and let them know. By all accounts, McDonalds takes its customer service calls very seriously, and your call will be reviewed, followed up on, and will likely affect the corporate scoring of your local restaurant.

-McDonalds, as you've probably noticed, is constantly searching for ways to make its menu items more nutritious. Expect more whole grains and dairy and fruit products to come, as well as continued efforts to lower the sodium content of its foods. Along those lines, McDonalds is also looking at grilled chicken nuggets. Yay.

-Are you a vegetarian who's wondering why McDonalds doesn't include a veggie burger? McDonalds actually test marketed a veggie burger in Southern California. It didn't sell.

I've actually known Jan Fields for a few years, so I was excited to get the opportunity to interview her for The Stir. She is a mother and grandmother and began working for the company as a crew member 34 years ago. I've always been impressed by Jan's openness and candor. During the BlogHer conference, McDonalds sponsored a breakfast for about 100 mom bloggers and Jan answered every question and comment that came from the audience, whether it was about gluten-free food options, humane treatment of cattle, or the design of the McDonalds yogurt cup. "We're in a position where everybody looks at everything we do," she told the moms. "So we have to be good."

Jan Fields also talks with McDonalds customers every day and personally answers at least 8-10 customer complaints each week. Whether you like McDonalds or not, you can't help but be impressed by a CEO who's unafraid to take on critics and answer their questions and complaints as openly and honestly as she can.

That's my two cents. What's yours?

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Geeky... GeekyMumof2boys

I love McDonalds. I've eaten it all my life. They even had pizza Happy Meals when I was little & way better toys too! Anyway, I can't stand the mothers who coma in about mcdonalds. I'm sorry, but if you don't want your kids to eat it then don't take them there! There's a really nasty cafe in my town I think should be shut down. A lot of people like it though... Fair enough I just don't take my kid there. Common snse! Now when I take my son to McDonald's (once a month maximum) they say "fries or apple slices?" and i roll my eyes every time. Like seriously? Do YOU eat apple slices for dinner as a special treat? And then they give him this tiny thing of fries and a little Danino yogurt. I swear McDonald's is being ruined by mothers with too much time on their hands. Let it be!!! The world doesn't revolve around you and your food preferences for your children. Take em to Subway! Make them something at home! Whatever just leave my McDonald's alone allreAdy :(

nonmember avatar Erica

I wish that dedication would filter down to the workers. I get they only make minimum wage buy that's no reason to be gross. I worked at a burger king for two years when I was a teenager and would have been fired for the things I've seen at McDonald's. But its nice to see a higher up cares at least!

nonmember avatar Amanda

I'm with you, Geekymum... if you don't want your kids to eat it, don't take them there! Growing up, McD's was a treat, and we only got to have it once every couple months. I do the same for my son. It is a wonderful seldom treat, not an every-day ritual. My son gets a chicken nugget happy meal. I hate how they put the apples in now-- they are so disgusting; and i doubt it's gonna hurt my son if he eats 1 small fry every 2 months-- moderation, people! I always ask for NO APPLES ( I have WAY better apples at home), and they always give me 2 small fries in replacement-- score for me! Goes well with the single cheeseburger i order :)

britn... britneykaren

Wow!!! A veggie burger? I wana try that!! Maybe they should test something like that in my state

nonmember avatar HS

I laughed so hard when people got all up in arms about the pink slime. What'd you think? That the ground beef wrapped in plastic at the supermarket came off the cow that way? Lol! Nerds. Anyway, you're a freakin turd if you complain about McDs or any other fast food restaurant. Carry ur lazy ass home and cook ur own damn food then. Sheez! Haven't you paid any attn to the new cookie monster? Cookies are a sometime food. A treat! Anyway, I'll continue to eat meat from Walmart and eat McDs every so often because I know how to control myself and ground beef has never caused me any problems thus far.

Belkys87 Belkys87

Have you seen/taste/notice the diff betwen mc nuggets and the nuggets at Chick Fil A ?????????????? Helloooo!!!!

Just saying

Lee Ann Kaplan

I actually LOVE that they cut down the fry portion AND include apple slices with NO dipping sauce! The apple slices are the first thing my toddler reaches for!

nonmember avatar teddybear par

wow all this talk about micky d's but were im from my mcdonalds is nasty i worked their and quit bc of how things were handle thats y i dont carry my kids their

caloc... calochortus

This report skims over the fact McDonalds DID use pink slime as a filler in their burgers and they only stopped because whistle blower risked his career to expose the public to the fact it was being served to people (put it in dog food!).  

The chicken nuggets are made from chicken but have you seen how those chickens are raised?  What they are fed?  I'm sorry, if I'm eating out I'm eating BETTER than I cook at home, not worse.

shrim... shrimpmommy

Mcdonalds is nasty. This lady is talking the talk, but not walking the walk. Save your money, prepare your food at home. The meals under 400 calories are small and the produce has chemicals to keep it 'fresh'.

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