Food Safety

Serving safe and quality food in every single market, each and every day, is our top priority and a long-standing commitment at McDonald’s.

A McDonald's employee wearing a face mask holding a bag of food and a drink at the Drive Thru window


Strict food safety standards and protocols are embedded in everything we do, from food sourcing, menu development, packaging and distribution to the running of our restaurants. We are embracing technology and working closely with our suppliers and expert partners to improve efficiency and reduce risks. Committed to lead, we share our knowledge internally through training and externally with our peers.


Our Recent Progress

  • We developed and deployed a food safety risk management (FSRM) dashboard.

  • 88% of our restaurants had fully implemented the move from paper-based to digital food safety management platform.

  • We launched our second food safety culture assessment in 24 markets, with more than 11,000 participating.

  • 1,959 third-party audits performed through our Supplier Quality Management System (SQMS), of which our standards were fully met by 92% of the food suppliers.

  • 239 distribution centers completed third-party food safety and quality audits. 97% fully met our Distributor Quality Management Process (DQMP) standard.

  • 55,171 restaurant food safety audits (announced and unannounced).

Our Strategy

We work to source and serve safe food and beverages each day, building trust as we strive to achieve food safety excellence across our industry.

Our global food safety strategy centers on three operating principles:

  1. Customer Obsessed: The safety of our food and that of our customers is non-negotiable and a top priority for McDonald’s.

  2. Better Together: Our food safety systems and standards are based on science and validated by external third parties.

  3. Committed to Lead: We lead the advancement of food safety from farm to customer and deploy processes to anticipate risk.

We execute this strategy through our food safety and hygiene work. Our actions build long-term brand trust by focusing on two strategic areas:

  • Strengthening food safety culture throughout the business, as well as from farm to customer.

  • Managing food safety risks proactively.

We are supporting these strategic areas through the continuous improvement of our standards and policies, with annual reviews based on current science and industry best practices. We are monitoring and identifying innovations and technology to strengthen our systems and drive simplification where possible to improve behaviors and performance.


Food Safety Risk Management

Advancing Food Safety From Farm to Customer

Engaging With Our Supply Chain

Our commitment to food safety stretches back to the production of our raw materials. We maintain strict standards through embedded supplier policies and procedures – reinforced through virtual and in-person training for suppliers, farmers and local government agencies.

How we engage with our supply chain partners:

  • Farmers – We work with various external partners, such as the Global Good Agriculture Program (GLOBALG.A.P.), to improve food safety standards at farm level and train farmers on the best food safety standards. GLOBALG.A.P. is the internationally recognized standard for farm production, benefiting farmers, retailers and consumers. Over 2,000 people (including farmers and employees) globally were trained on our own GLOBALG.A.P. standards in 2022.

  • Supplier facilities – Our raw material and food processing suppliers must comply with our science- and risk-based food safety and quality standards. These include the McDonald’s GLOBALG.A.P. standards, SQMS standards and the DQMP standards. Furthermore, McDonald’s-approved suppliers for all raw protein sourcing must meet additional rigorous standards. To gain McDonald’s approval, these suppliers must demonstrate compliance with our requirements and pass regular audits. To support these suppliers, we provide online and in-person training. Training materials are updated regularly.

  • Distribution centers – We work closely with our global logistics partners and distribution suppliers, who implement continuous temperature monitoring systems in the trucks that deliver our food products to restaurants.

Product Traceability From Ingredient to Restaurant

It is essential that we have product traceability within our food supply system. To achieve this, we work closely with suppliers through standards like the SQMS and our DQMP. To align with these, suppliers must establish, implement, document and maintain food safety and quality management systems, and meet all applicable laws, regulations and McDonald’s requirements. This includes demonstrating food safety best practice throughout processes, such as manufacturing.

Advancing Restaurant and Food Safety

Restaurant food safety and quality management procedures are integrated into the McDonald’s Operations and Training Program. Based on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point principles, they’re followed in every restaurant.

Audits by third parties verify that key food safety standards and procedures are conducted in all restaurants. Follow-up visits by third-party and internal staff are in place to assure findings are corrected and improvements implemented. To ensure audits are robust, we host calibration sessions with approved third-party auditing firms and look for enhancement of standard.

In addition, our Food Safety Field Service team supports our markets to ensure they have received training and are operating in compliance with our standards.

Embedding Technology  

We are constantly seeking ways to integrate food safety requirements into equipment designs, leveraging modern technology to support automation. This helps improve food safety and quality, while facilitating operational data integration.

For example, we started implementing our Digital Food Safety (DFS) initiative in our restaurants, reaching 88% by end of 2022. DFS is an initiative comprising several phases to digitize food safety tasks in restaurants. It simplifies restaurant food safety management while mitigating risk by implementing digital systems.

During the second phase, we will deploy the automation of temperature measures for products in storage areas. In some markets, McDonald’s Restaurant Managers are considering how, with the help of their digital food safety system, they can identify potential issues with cold storage equipment early. This system helps ensure food safety, reduces energy waste and improves efficiency.

Evaluation and Intervention

Our Product Withdrawal Process

Each market is required to do annual product withdrawal exercises. In our European markets, we have started this practice using third-party companies. In other markets these are carried out by internal staff members. It is essential we verify this process annually to ensure it is current and that people are trained in this area in every market.

Responding to Incidents Within Our Global System

We have global supply chain incident management processes in place that are reviewed and updated periodically. If an incident involves multiple markets, our global and market teams collaborate to manage the issues in a timely manner. An incident response process is also in place as part of our wider crisis management approach.

Monitoring Food Safety Complaints

We track food safety incidents at global and market levels and aim to capture the root causes of any issues. Our global and market product category leads are responsible for tracking the number of complaints and incidents. We strive to reduce these year-over-year by working closely with suppliers and our restaurant operations team.

Food Safety Culture

Building on Our Food Safety Culture

Food safety is McDonald’s top priority. Running great restaurants and serving safe food is the basis for building strong brand trust. Strict food safety standards and protocols are embedded in everything we do, from food sourcing, menu development, packaging and distribution to the running of our restaurants. We are embracing technology and working closely with suppliers and expert partners to improve efficiency and reduce risks. Committed to lead, we share our knowledge internally through training and externally with our peers.

The continuous evolution of food safety culture is strongly embedded in our values and is reflected in several actions, for example:

  • We train restaurant crew members on food safety during the onboarding process, while managers complete a more robust educational program.

  • We have ongoing programs with our suppliers to educate employees on safe food handling.

  • We use webinars to train our market food safety and quality leads on the most up-to-date food safety, hygiene and sanitation standards.

  • Our global food safety website is used to learn more about hygiene and safety, and features McDonald’s CEO, Franchisees and suppliers talking about their commitment to food safety.

  • Each year, around the world, we observe Food Safety Week together with our markets and suppliers and share best practice.

  • Conventions and summits, such as the Worldwide Owner/Operator conventions, allow us to share important information about our food safety culture, as well as to celebrate Food Safety Leadership Awards.

Customer Obsessed: Listening to Our Customers

To gather valuable customer feedback, we operate multiple global social media accounts and toll-free numbers in the U.S. for customers to share their experiences. Our Food Safety team then scans these insights for food safety-related comments. This feedback is integrated into our Food Safety Risk Management (FSRM) dashboard and used to identify opportunities for improving the quality and safety of products and services.

Better Together: Partnering With Experts

Our McDonald’s Global Food Safety Advisory Council includes food safety and public health professionals, as well as leaders from North America, Europe and Asia. The Council meets annually with our Executive Vice President and Chief Supply Chain Officer to review and discuss progress and provide recommendations for the advancement of our food safety standards and practices.

We are continuing our efforts to elevate food safety culture by engaging people from corporate staff, suppliers, Franchisees, Restaurant Managers and Crew members. We are focusing on food safety standards and protocols, and on strengthening restaurant food safety practices using the newly implemented digital food safety solution.

Beyond the Council, we are a member of the SSAFE Board. Its goal is to bring together industry, government and nonprofit organizations to solve issues that affect the integrity of the food supply chain. We are also an active member within the Partnership for Food Safety Education where we collaborate with food industry, government agencies, consumer groups and academics to support food safety education. In order to learn, share and pass on food safety practices and knowledge, we also engage in the EFSA Emerging Risk task force, are a member of Serving Europe and collaborate with various academia, such as the University of Georgia University – Center for Food Safety and Cranfield University.

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