Something completely different at McDonald's: Fresh beef

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Robert Galbraith/ReutersOn Thursday, McDonald's announced that it'll start serving up one of its signature hamburgers using fresh beef next year, after four decades of using frozen patties.

With these changes, McDonald's is well-poised to capture some of this growth, but the company needs to ensure that the associated food safety and operational concerns are adequately addressed to make the moves successful.

The changeover from frozen beef will begin starting mid-next year in a majority of its USA restaurants.

In 2015, McDonald's announced several changes by offering all-day breakfast, committing to only sourcing cage-free eggs by 2025, and only serving chicken not treated with antibiotics important to human medicine that was completed almost a year ahead of schedule in 2016.

John Nalivka, president of meat consultancy Sterling Marketing, said there is not yet enough information on the quantity and cost of the fresh beef McDonald's would be buying to know how that could affect the beef market or the company's margins.

McDonald's had been testing fresh beef at 55 restaurants across the Dallas-Fort Worth area and 75 restaurants across northeast Oklahoma.

"Today's announcement is part of a continuing food journey for McDonald's", McDonald's United States of America president Chris Kempczinski said in the release. While sales have improved in the US over the last two years, customer traffic still has not.

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- Coming soon to McDonald's: Fresh beef.

A menu displays United States fast food chain McDonald's beef burger menu, in New York, January 28, 2011. The move will require workers, who are used to cooking frozen beef, to learn how to safely handle and cook fresh meat, and may slow down service, analysts say.

The restaurant has already removed artificial preservatives from its McNuggets and eliminated high-fructose corn syrup from its buns.

Instead, the company will use fresh beef for the larger, quarter-pound patties, and will prepare them to order, so customers get a freshly made burger patty.

In the fast food wars, there are going to be clear winners and losers in terms of beef freshness.

"The Quarter Pounder is a premium burger for us", Kempczinski said to USA Today.

The company has thus invigorated sales and profits by trimming costs, simplifying menus, offering value meals and rolling out all-day breakfast in the U.S.