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Business News/ Companies / News/  All smiles at McDonald’s as Maharashtra outlets can say ‘cheese’ again
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All smiles at McDonald’s as Maharashtra outlets can say ‘cheese’ again

In the December quarter, the Maharashtra's FDA suspended the licence of a McDonald’s outlet in Ahmednagar over claims that its McCheese burger violated local food standards. This prompted the company to remove the word ‘cheese’ from several items on its menu in the state.

The company had removed the word “cheese” from its menu in Maharashtra following claims that it uses cheese substitutes in some burgers and nuggets. Photo: Hemant Mishra/MintPremium
The company had removed the word “cheese” from its menu in Maharashtra following claims that it uses cheese substitutes in some burgers and nuggets. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint

New Delhi: McDonald’s restaurants in Maharashtra can once again use the word ‘cheese’ on their menu as the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has verified that the fast-food chain uses real cheese in its products.

“The confirmation from the FSSAI explicitly states, ‘Articles in question contain cheese or cheese product as a part of composition and does not contain analogue in dairy context in any form’," Westlife Foodworld Limited, which operates McDonald’s restaurants in west and south India said on Tuesday.

The company had removed the word “cheese" from its menu in Maharashtra following claims that it uses cheese substitutes in some burgers and nuggets. “The clean chit we have received from FSSAI, India's apex food safety standards regulator, affirms that our products contain 100% real cheese, sourced from globally renowned suppliers. The recent tests conducted by NABL-accredited labs also validate this, and that our products do not contain any cheese analogues or substitutes," said Saurabh Kalra, MD, McDonald's India (West and South).

In the December quarter, the Maharashtra's Food & Drugs Administration suspended the licence of a McDonald’s outlet in Ahmednagar over claims that its McCheese burger violated local food standards. This prompted the company to rename several items on its menu in Maharashtra. For instance, the McCheese Burger was renamed Cheddar Delight burger, and Cheese Nuggets were renamed Veg Nuggets.

Meanwhile, the company's management is working towards re-building consumer trust. “It is too early to comment on the impact (of the issue on sales) but definitely a lot of consumers started questioning the brand. Brand trust, built over years, can sometimes take a beating temporarily due to issues like this," Kalra said on Tuesday. “We are working on this at our restaurants, and we’re also going out and talking about this to our consumers," he added.

The company said, "As a stringent and mandatory process, all suppliers of the company rigorously test their products sold to McDonald’s, twice a year, by independent NABL-accredited food testing labs. For example, even preceding the recent media coverage, the brand's cheese had already undergone and passed evaluations as of September 2023."

Westlife Foodworld Limited, a subsidiary of Hardcastle Restaurants Pvt, sets up and operates quick-service restaurants (QSR) in India. HRPL is a McDonald’s franchisee with rights to own and operate its restaurants in west and south India. It operates 380 restaurants in 62 cities.

On Tuesday, shares of Westlife Foodworld jumped 7.77% to close at 793.35 on BSE.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Suneera Tandon
Suneera Tandon is a New Delhi based reporter covering consumer goods for Mint. Suneera reports on fast moving consumer goods makers, retailers as well as other consumer-facing businesses such as restaurants and malls. She is deeply interested in what consumers across urban and rural India buy, wear and eat. Suneera holds a masters degree in English Literature from the University of Delhi.
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Published: 05 Mar 2024, 07:02 PM IST
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