Where Does McDonald’s Get Their Meat From? Is It Real?

From classic Big Macs to Quarter Pounders and traditional hamburgers, the McDonald’s menu has a lot of meat burgers to choose from. But, have you ever wondered where McDonald’s gets their meat from and if it is real? You’ll get all the answers here, with a lot more! 

Where does McDonald's get their meat from?

As per the official website of McDonald’s, they source their meat from two different suppliers. One of the suppliers is Lopez Foods, predominantly for beef, whereas the other supplier is Keystone Foods, which provides chicken and fish, also with beef. 

Over the years, McDonald’s has seen a lot of controversies where people have claimed that the meat they use is not at all real. McDonald’s has done their best to reclaim itself and prove that they use real beef for all its products. 

Both meat suppliers have had a long history of sourcing meat from McDonald’s and using techniques that ensure the heart stays fresh. In this post, you will learn about this in detail, along with information about how the meat is transported and more! 

Does McDonald’s Use Real Meat? 

Does McDonalds use real meat

Yes, McDonald’s uses 100% real meat sourced from genuine meat suppliers. They have been getting the meat from reputable suppliers for decades now. 

A lot of people have sadly had the question of whether or not the meat used at McDonald’s is even real. As per their official website, McDonald’s takes pride in using fresh and natural meat, with no preservatives added. 

McDonald’s has mentioned on their website that they use 100% real meat for their burgers seasoned with salt and pepper. They have also mentioned that the meat has no preservatives, fillers, or additives. 

Moreover, they have mentioned using trimmings of cuts like the chuck, round, and sirloin, all ground, to make their delicious beef patties. Regarding quality, the meat may be different from what you find at a fancy steak house, but it is still very decent and fresh. 

Where Does McDonald’s Get Their Meat From? 

where does mcdonalds get their meat

McDonald’s official website shows they source their meat from two meat suppliers: Lopez Foods and Keystone Foods. Both suppliers have been sourcing various types of meat for Mcdonald’s for over three decades. 

Talking about the meat suppliers at McDonald’s, let’s begin with Lopez Foods. This company of meat suppliers has had a 30-year history with McDonald’s! Lopez Foods is an Oklahoma-based meat supplier, per the website “Eat This, Not That!

Other than that, McDonald’s also has Keystone Foods as one of their meat suppliers. But, while Lopez Foods mainly deals with beef, Keystone Foods offers a wider variety, with options consisting of beef, chicken, and even fish. 

Keystone Foods supplies its meat to 13 countries worldwide and is also the pioneer of the IQF method, or Individual Quick Freezing process of burger patties, which is still used today with their burgers. McDonald’s developed the concept of chicken nuggets with Keystone Foods back in the 1970s! 

Ever since, the demand for chicken nuggets, or boneless chicken meat, has just been increasing! The idea of Individual Quick Freezing of hamburger patties was another revolutionary idea developed by the founder of Keystone Foods, Herb Lotman. 

With this process, they check the quality of the meat before grinding it, and then the patties are shaped and individually frozen. The quick freezing ensures the cakes stay fresh without additives while retaining flavor! 

McDonald’s Meat Sourcing Process

McDonalds meat sourcing process

The meat-sourcing process for McDonald’s is so much more vast than you may have imagined! The meat goes through a whole process, and the factory’s hygiene and safety regulations are taken very seriously. 

Although many people claim and believe that the meat used by McDonald’s is packed with preservatives, that is hardly the case. In Europe, most meat processing for McDonald’s happens at a factory in Gunzburg, Germany. The factory is OSI, an American company that supplies McDonald’s hamburgers. 

The process is long; most meat processing happens here at McDonald’s. This is also where quite a few McDonald’s across Europe get their meat. Business Insider did a tour of the factory to see how the meat is made and gave a detailed description. 

So, here is how the meat processing happens at McDonald’s!

1. Hygiene Is Very Important

The first and foremost thing that is taken care of while producing meat at the factory for McDonald’s is hygiene and sanitation. The workers should remove any jewelry and wash their hands thoroughly before entering the space. 

Removing jewelry or any metal is essential. But the meat also goes through a metal detection process, just to be sure. The workers are also given protective clothing while dealing with the meat. 

2. The Meat Is Checked For Bones

Once the hygiene protocol is over, some of the workers begin processing the meat, firstly by checking if there are any bones. McDonald’s mostly gets large pieces of meat from slaughterhouses, so this process is critical. 

3. The Meat Is Transferred To Containers

After the meat is thoroughly checked, it is transferred to containers. These containers, for each day, come up to about 500 kgs each, filled with meat. This is the amount of meat processed daily to get enough burger patties. 

4. The Meat Is Minced

Once the meat is packed, it is minced in their large machines. These blenders are equipped in a way that they can eliminate tiny pieces of bones from the meat if there are any. A single blender can blend a total of eight of those containers that weigh 500 kg each! 

So, when you enjoy a hamburger from McDonald’s, know that the meat is never sourced from a single cow. It is a blend of so many! Once the meat is of the right consistency, it is transferred for further processing. 

5. Burger Patties Are Made From The Minced Meat

The minced meat is further transferred to a specially equipped machine to make burger patties. The meat may be fresh or a combination of new and frozen. The latter is a more popular method since it ensures that the patties hold their shape naturally, and there is no need to add binding agents. The machines are also pretty cold to ensure the meat stays cold throughout the process. 

6. Some Burgers Are Tested

Once the patties are all made, a few are cooked and tested to see if all is okay. Here, they ensure that the fat content in the patties is 20%, a standard that McDonald’s follows for their burgers. 

The burgers are also grilled in a kitchen replica of the one at McDonald’s. This ensures that the patties stay the same through the cooking process at the restaurant itself. The batch is moved forward once the patties are cooked, and everything is okay. 

7. Quality Check Before Packing

Once the patties are all okay in quality, various other steps follow regarding the quality check. One of the processes is passing the meat through a metal detector. 

There is absolutely no plastic allowed inside the factory, and if there is, by chance, any piece of metal in the meat, it can be detected. Also, all sorts of information is printed on the boxes where the meat is packed. 

This includes where the meat was sourced from, when it was sourced, and when it was processed. So, if any customer ever has a complaint about finding a foreign object in the meat, McDonald’s knows exactly which slaughterhouse to contact about the same. 

8. Hamburgers Are Wrapped In Plastic

After the quality check, the hamburgers pass through almost everything, and they are finally packed. The boxes are wrapped in plastic, and another sticker is added, which mentions where the meat came from and where the boxes are going. 

9. Meat is Transferred To The Distribution Center And Outlets

Once the meat is packed and just about everything is done, it goes to the distribution center, and from there, it is transferred to McDonald’s outlets! 

Does McDonald’s Still Use Mechanically Processed Meat? 

Does McDonalds use mechanically processed meat

McDonald’s did use mechanically processed meat before; however, ever since the pink slime controversy with their chicken nuggets, they stopped the same. This was back in 2011, whereas they have been using all white meat to make their chicken nuggets since 2003. 

McDonald’s was caught in the pink slime controversy, stating that the meat was processed and mixed with ammonia. But, McDonald’s has made it clear that they stopped using any mechanically processed meat over a decade ago. 

How Is McDonald’s Meat Transported From Factories To Stores? 

How is mcdonalds meat transported

Once the meat is processed and made into burger patties, it is first transported to the distribution centers, all loaded in trucks. Then, the meat is transported to the stores, again loaded in trucks with proper temperature control to preserve the meat. 

Since most of the meat goes through a quick freezing process, it is packed so that no external factors could spoil it. However, the temperature of the trucks is still regulated in the best way possible to ensure that no external factor can spoil the quality of hamburgers until they reach the stores. 


Although McDonald’s has gone through its fair share of controversies regarding their meat, the company takes pride in using fresh meat. So yes, the meat used at McDonald’s is 100% real and sourced from the best meat suppliers. 

If you have more questions about McDonald’s food, like if they use real eggs, the type of cheese they use, and the oil they use for frying, refer to our detailed articles about the same! 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Does McDonald’s use real meat? 

Yes, McDonald’s uses real meat for their burgers. 

Does McDonald’s have dedicated suppliers for meat? 

Yes, McDonald’s has had dedicated meat suppliers for over 30 years!

Does McDonald’s use mechanically processed meat? 

No, McDonald’s has not used mechanically processed meat since 2011. 

Is hygiene an essential part of their meat processing? 

Yes, McDonald’s is strict about hygiene and sanitation protocols in their meat factories. 

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