In an effort to remove some of the mystery surrounding fast food preparation, McDonald’s has begun opening up its kitchens to visitors.
The US-based company’s Open Door program was officially launched in Qatar and across the Gulf in 2013, but has gained momentum recently after a social media push.
Doha News took a tour of the fast food chain’s ground floor City Center branch last week. Here are some interesting things we found:
Employees use two different-colored gloves
McDonald’s cooks are required to wash their hands every hour.
Additionally, when food preparation begins, cooks handle raw beef, chicken and fish using blue plastic gloves.
But cooked food items are handled with white ones to avoid cross-contamination.
Meanwhile, containers and utensils are supposed to be washed, sanitized and dried in a rear sink area at least once every four hours.
All food is imported into Qatar
None of the food served at McDonald’s branches in Qatar is locally sourced.
Beef, chicken and fish are imported from Malaysia, most vegetables come from Saudi Arabia and the potatoes are from Egypt.
“All our products are imported from outside with licensed suppliers approved by the region,” said Ma. Donna Tiniques, local store marketing coordinator at McDonald’s Qatar.
French fries must be used within seven minutes
According to McDonald’s website, french fries cooked in its kitchens have a “quality assurance holding time of seven minutes.”
It doesn’t say what happens to the fries after this window closes, but they’re presumably deemed unfit to serve to customers.
Ice is made in-house
McDonald’s said it makes its own ice with filtered water to ensure the cubes are clean and quality controlled.
The chain also makes its own soft drinks by mixing syrups with soda water. McDonald’s said the mixing process can have varied results and suggested asking for less ice for a “stronger sip,” or more ice for a weaker one.
Staffers are careful about oil
Staffers fry three McDonald’s menu items inside their kitchens: Chicken, fish and french fries. Each are cooked in their own vats of vegetable oil.
According to Idris, there is no set time period for how often cooking oil must be changed. Instead, an electronic tester governs the process.
“The device will usually read a percentage number that will indicate if the oil needs changing,” he said.
If the device signals green, it means the oil is of good quality and is safe to use. If it turns yellow, the oil quality will need changing soon. And red means the oil has become dangerous and unsafe.
Anyone interested in seeing inside a McDonald’s kitchen for themselves can sign up for a tour online.
Visits are being conducted in 10 branches so far: Al Meera West Bay, Barwa City, Barwa Village, City Center (ground floor branch), Lagoona Mall, Al Markhiya, Al Meera Muraikh and Al Meera Mesaieed in Mesaieed, and Al Jazeera and Woqod branches in Al Rayyan.
Speaking to Doha News, Tiniques explained:
“The program is available in selected stores because we consider the size of the kitchen for safety reasons for our customers to easily walk in, especially if there are so many staff working inside.”