McDonald’s is the most iconic fast food chain in the world, with over 39,000 locations around the globe.
No matter where you go, you can always count on there being a McDonald’s in the area.
For many customers, McDonald’s is a familiar comfort food they can always rely on.
Those who frequent the popular burger joint, may begin to wonder about the ingredients being used in their favorite fast food.
What Kind Of Cheese Does McDonald’s Use?
McDonald’s uses their very own blend of processed cheddar cheese.
Their blend is 60% cheddar cheese and 40% other ingredients, which include water, salt, whey powder, butter, milk proteins, emulsifying salts, natural cheese flavoring, and food coloring.
There was the rumor flying around that McDonald’s cheese was vegan because it wasn’t really cheese.
While their cheese may be safe for vegetarians to eat, the inclusion of dairy products, such as milk protein, butter, and cheese, makes McDonald’s cheese not appropriate for vegans.
Depending on the food standards in different countries, the cheese may vary from country to country.
McDonald’s uses cheese that is created by native farmers and factories from each country, which helps assure they’re staying up to code, providing more jobs, and increasing cash flow into the country.
McDonald’s cheese is exclusive to them alone because they have their own, personal suppliers.
Oftentimes, the cheese suppliers have little to no time for any other orders due to the high demand that McDonald’s has for cheese.
McDonald’s has a seemingly unlimited demand for cheese, which needs multiple national locations for each country that McDonald’s operates in.
Some consumers have raised concerns over the sheer amount of farming and production that must take place in order to fill the needs of the fast food titan.
Those who are looking to buy some of McDonald’s unique cheese may be saddened by the news that there is no way to purchase cheese from McDonald’s or their cheese suppliers.
The closest cheese to McDonald’s cheese blend that is available to consumers is Kraft’s single-serve processed cheddar cheese.
Although Kraft and McDonald’s cheese blends are different from one another, they taste nearly identical.
The cheeses are both packaged the same way, which gives them a similar floppy look and squishy texture.
Life As A McDonald’s Cheese Supplier
Any company that begins working with McDonald’s should expect the massive increase in income to be met with just as much demand and hard work.
McDonald’s requires millions of pounds of cheese from each of their suppliers if they want to keep all of their locations stocked.
The Great Lakes Cheese Plant is just one of three cheese suppliers that creates McDonald’s unique cheese.
They provide McDonald’s with at least 18 million pounds of cheese each year and help supply about 13,700 around the country.
In order to fulfill this large order, the Great Lakes Cheese Plant must be functional and producing cheese 24 hours a day, five days per week.
That’s 120 hours of cheese making each week.
The Great Lakes Cheese Plants has about 67,000 cows that produce 1.1 billion gallons of milk each year.
This is all done by about 1,800 employees, who all own about 20% of the cheese plant through the company’s stock program.
Thanks to the never-ending demand for cheese from McDonald’s, the Great Lakes Cheese Plant has never had to lay off any of their employees.
Between the job stability and decent pay, the employee turnover at Great Lakes Cheese Plant is incredibly low.
Most of the Great Lakes Cheese Plant’s production comes from one factory in Hiram, Ohio.
This plant has only 256 employees and produces about 12 million pounds of processed cheese alone.
The plant is incredibly particular in the quality of the cheese that they give to McDonald’s, meaning that only the best will be sold to the fast food chain.
The cheese goes through multiple audits and inspections, ensuring that it passes all safety and quality control.
The Great Lakes Cheese Plant has been operating since 1995, producing more cheese than one person could eat.
McDonald’s Cheese Nutritional Facts
Nobody is going to McDonald’s because it is the healthiest choice, but rather for convenience.
McDonald’s is aware of this fact and doesn’t let calories get in the way of great taste, which is especially true for their cheese.
One piece of their processed cheddar cheese has about 50 calories in it and 35 of those calories are from fat.
With every slice of cheese, you are adding 3.5 grams of fat to your order, with 2.5 grams of the fat being saturated.
While some customers may order their sandwiches without the cheese to skip out on some of the calories, remember that the bun has even more calories than the cheese.
There’s no trans-fat in McDonald’s cheese.
You may be able to skip out on the trans fats, but you’ll still be consuming 15 milligrams of cholesterol and 230 milligrams of sodium with each slice of cheese.
While McDonald’s food may not be good for you, no one can deny how affordable and fast the food is.
By eating only a single slice of McDonald’s cheese, the average person is consuming 2.5% of their total daily caloric intake.
That’s not even considering the burger itself, which has more fattening components than just the cheese.
Those who are trying to be healthier, even while ordering food at McDonald’s, will want to skip out on the bread, potatoes, and other starches.
That’s where the bulk of the calories lie.
In total, the cheeseburger from McDonald’s has about 300 calories, meaning that the cheese makes up about ⅙ of the total number of calories.
You can lower the number of calories in your cheeseburger by ordering it without cheese, pickles, onions, or the bun.
The plain hamburger will be the one with the least calories.
Is McDonald’s Cheese Plastic?
No, McDonald’s cheese isn’t plastic, no matter where you get it from.
The slices are wrapped in plastic in order to keep the slices of cheese from sticking to each other.
The package is what gives McDonald’s cheese the uniformity the food chain is known for.
While McDonald’s cheese may have some additives, plastic is not one of the additives that they use.
Instead, they use natural cheese flavoring and food coloring, which gives it that almost cartoonish appearance that makes people think it is plastic.
Ingredients such as butter, emulsifying salts, and milk protein are used to enhance the flavor and the texture of the cheese.
The smooth texture makes McDonald’s cheese so floppy that it may look like rubber when being handled.
There are additional ingredients, such as cheese culture, citric acid, sodium citrate, sodium phosphate, sorbic acid, lactic acid, enzymes, acetic acid, sodium pyrophosphate, and soy lecithin.
The sorbic acid is used as a preservative for the cheese and can be found all over McDonald’s menu.
The goal is to make the cheese strong enough to be able to go through the machines that churn, cut, and package it while also creating something that will last for a long time.
McDonald’s wants their cheese to taste good as well.
Many of the rumors that have been spread among consumers about McDonald’s cheese not being real cheese are based on the fact that there are a lot of preservatives used in their cheese-making process.
McDonald’s cheese is just as real as any other type of American cheese.
Many of the more traditional cheeses of the world use one form of preservative or another.
Nothing that McDonald’s does goes against the rules of what can be consumed by customers, which firmly excludes plastic.
McDonald’s Has Been Sued Over Cheese
In 2018, two customers of a Florida McDonald’s sued the fast food franchise for $5 million overcharging the customers for cheese when they didn’t want cheese on their quarter pounders.
The plaintiffs claimed that McDonald’s was breaking antitrust laws by tying the sale of the burger to the sale of their cheese.
In the early years of the quarter pounder, the two options of the menu were a quarter pounder and a quarter pounder with cheese.
Most consumers ordered their quarter pounders with cheese, so Mcdonald’s got rid of the quarter pounder without cheese to help simplify their menu.
Other than the difference in the existence of cheese on the two burgers, the only other difference was the price.
Depending on the McDonalds location that you chose, the quarter pounder without cheese was anywhere from 30 to 90 cents cheaper.
When a customer simply orders a quarter pounder these days, they’ll get the quarter pounder with cheese for full price.
Even if you have items removed from your burger, you will still be paying the same price for the burger.
The plaintiffs ordered the quarter pounder on McDonald’s mobile application when they noticed there was no price change for when they ordered the quarter pounder without cheese.
This is when the plaintiffs decided to take McDonald’s to court.
McDonald’s defense team argued that the lawsuit was absurd, claiming that ruling in the favor of the plaintiffs would cause sheer chaos for fast food chains.
The biggest problem with the plaintiffs’ expectation of having unique prices for their unique orders is that it would overwhelm the cashiers and lead to many errors.
Judge William P. Dimitrouleas determined that the plaintiffs could not truly prove that McDonald’s violated their rights in any of the three ways that the plaintiffs tried to argue.
Does McDonald’s Cheese Mold?
Just like any other food, McDonald’s cheese has a recommended time in which it should be eaten and a sell-by date.
You should never eat food that you think could be spoiled, old, or rotten, even if the food doesn’t look bad.
McDonald’s is infamous for having food that never seems to grow mold or show its age.
While McDonald’s cheese does eventually go bad, it doesn’t seem to mold, just like the burger, bun, or French fries.
An anthropologist from Iceland bought a cheeseburger and fries from McDonald’s on the last day it was open in the country on October 30th, 2009.
He left the burger in a container and watched for any decay that was supposed to happen.
However, that day has yet to come, even though many years have passed.
The owner of the last McDonald’s meal in Iceland keeps the burger and fries on display in his bus hotel.
All the preservatives and cold temperatures have kept the burger looking as young as it did over a decade ago.
McDonald’s says it has less to do with the number of preservatives in their food and more to do with the lack of moisture.
The last McDonald’s meal in Iceland is kept under glass and stays away from warmer temperatures.
Consumers weren’t satisfied with this answer, knowing full well that McDonald’s food had vastly too many preservatives in it.
Some of the most common preservatives and additives included sodium benzoate, ponceau, sunset yellow, and quinoline yellow.
McDonald’s also uses preservatives such as sorbic acid, calcium propionate, potassium sorbate, calcium disodium, sodium acid pyrophosphate, and azodicarbonamide.
These preservatives help McDonald’s food have a shelf life of years.
However, after years of outcry, McDonald’s saw that they needed to make a change in their ingredients.
The Move Towards Better Ingredients
Shortly after the news of Iceland’s last McDonald’s meal went viral, the company was getting swamped with negative feedback from their consumers.
Customers wanted better from the fast food giant, knowing the company was fully capable of covering such costs.
The change had originally started in 2016, with McDonald’s attempting to make an effort to remove some of the preservatives found in their chicken nuggets.
By 2018, they decided to make the move towards removing all artificial preservatives from their menus.
The company has slowly gone through the process of taking each ingredient and menu item and removing at least some of the preservatives from their food.
While such a move has technically made McDonald’s healthier, don’t expect dietitians to begin praising McDonald’s.
The move to remove a large number of artificial preservatives and coloring in their food has pushed other fast food chains to do the same thing.
McDonald’s is an industry leader, which means wherever they go, other companies are going to follow.
Since their announcement in 2018, fast food companies have made it a competition to offer the fastest food with the lowest number of artificial ingredients.
This has helped improve the quality of fast food, no matter where you prefer to dine.
McDonald’s still has a lot of work to do when it comes to removing the artificial coloring and preservatives in their cheese.
With the way that fast food chains are rapidly becoming healthier due to competition, it would be an excellent decision for McDonald’s to switch up their cheese blend.
McDonald’s Cheesy Future
As fast food companies fight to hold the crown of best food, consumers should expect to see an increase in quality.
McDonald’s should focus some of their innovative efforts on their untrusted cheese.
Consumers want more than just 60% processed cheddar cheese.
With a company as big as McDonald’s, they should be able to handle increasing the amount of cheese in their cheese.