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McDonald's Will be Using Fresh Beef by 2018 — But Will That be Too Late?

Last week, McDonald's announced that they would be using fresh, never frozen beef in any of their Quarter Pounder burgers starting sometime in 2018. After this change is rolled out nationwide, all Quarter Pounders will be made fresh when ordered every time.

As any fast food aficionado will be able to tell you, "fresh, never frozen beef" is the big selling point for rival chain, Wendy's. Don't worry, they had plenty of shade to throw on Twitter about the announcement. But Wendy's savage social media manager isn't the only person who's unimpressed by this transition to fresh beef.

The big question being discussed both in the news and in the Twitter-verse is this: Can frozen beef really save McDonald's? And why has it taken the corporation until 2018 to get to this point?

First things first, is this transition to fresh beef going to pull McDonald's out of its slump?

If you've been following the journey of Mickey D's, you probably know the company has been trying to reform its menu options for the past couple years.

In August of 2016, the company removed artificial preservatives from chicken McNuggets and removed high-fructose corn syrup from its buns. Starting in 2005, McDonald’s has been launching healthy lifestyle marketing campaigns in an effort to let consumers know the chain is onboard with eating trends of the moment.

The corporation even went through an executive shakeup two years ago to find a CEO to hopefully steer the company in a more promising direction. After failing to keep McDonald’s on pace with its competitors, former CEO Don Thompson stepped down in 2015 and was succeeded by British executive Steve Easterbrook.

Despite these moves, McDonald's stock continues to drop and sales are waning; last month, McDonald's acknowledged that it lost 500 million customer transactions in the U.S. since 2012, mainly to other fast food rivals.

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Needless to say, it's been a saga.

With these numbers, it makes sense that consumers and industry experts alike are questioning whether or not this move can pull the chain out of this recent depression. It certainly doesn't help that Wendy's public skewering has made this move to fresh beef appear more transparent and late-to-the-party than ever.

We were all thinking it, but Wendy's just went and said it. And what Wendy's tweet pointed out is the thing that really makes me hesitant.

I can respect that McDonald's is making this move; I know they're doing it to save face and sales, but I'm happy my Quarter Pounders will be fresh from 2018 and on. But why have I, and other burger-lovers, had to wait until this point for the idea of fresh beef to even be a possibility?

The wait from now to mid-2018 is now obviously a logistical one, but McDonald’s is a 62-year-old company. Now consumers like me are probably wondering why the majority of those six decades were spent selling us a frozen meat option.

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Most of us can acknowledge that when McDonald's says it will be transitioning to fresh beef, what the company means is it won't be using frozen beef anymore. But, truthfully, it makes it sound like what we've been eating is even grosser than we ever imagined.

This then makes the reality of it all pretty gross to begin with.

I can't help but wonder if this announcement will hurt McDonald's, rather than help it. I can easily see why patrons might pull their business until fresh beef is introduced, or even stop visiting their local McDonald’s in favor of a chain that’s been ahead of industry trends like this.

Bottom line: It may have been wiser to wait until fresh beef was being used nationwide, rather than give patrons a year to question what they've been eating.

As preemptive as this announcement may have been, I doubt this brief debacle will topple McDonald's. After all, the company is trying to improve its products for the better, and many consumers are still looking for convenience rather than quality ingredients, which is something that will play in its favor.

But I'd be lying if I said everything — from the too-early announcement to the Twitter firestorm — hasn't made me question my go-to fast food favorite.