When a photo of what was supposed to be mechanically separated chicken, or “pink goop,” went viral and quickly became associated with McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) Chicken McNuggets, many people thought the chain was doomed. The picture of the goop, which looks similar to unsavory strawberry soft service ice cream, certainly does not resemble anything close to chicken meat, and some feared that it would be the straw that broke the camel’s back for McDonald’s.
There have long been rumors that McDonald’s manufacturing process is something its customers never want to know about, and that picture almost all but confirmed it. Still, the company had a comeback following the picture, and it turns out, experts appear to think its initially questionable plan turned out to be a good idea.
Time reports that in response to the photo featuring the “pink goop,” McDonald’s Canada released a video on its website that gives customers a behind-the-scenes look at how McNuggets are really made. Some analysts called it a risky move, as some customers would rather live in oblivion about what they’re really eating, while others might think they want to know what goes into the chicken but really don’t.
However, the McDonald’s team still felt it necessary to squash the rumors, even if it meant that by doing so, the company had to reveal the weird process of shaping its chicken mix into four distinct nugget shapes.
Per Time, McDonald’s McNugget process isn’t too disturbing, and the transformation at least begins with chicken breasts similar to those anyone could find at the grocery store. Although it’s at least a little unnerving seeing the meat getting ground up and then shaped, consumers have proven that they want transparency when it comes to their food vendors, and transparency is McDonald’s gave them.
That’s why Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic, told Time: “There are a lot of misconceptions about how they produce McNuggets. Anything they can do to get away from the idea that their nuggets are ‘mystery meat’ is good.”
Jay Baer, founder of Convince and Convert, agrees. He told Time in an email, “100 percent yes, I believe McD should be talking about nuggets.”
Baer also supports McDonald’s Canada program, in which McDonald’s teams answer thousands of customer questions and combat concerns over food quality and safety head-on. He says the program “is an incredible example of radical transparency, and building trust by being disproportionately forthright. They have tracked it extensively, and found meaningful increases in Canadians’ perceptions of food quality, etc.”
Time reports that Canadian consumers have shown a greater interest in transparency and knowing where their food comes from, which is why McDonald’s Canada may have chosen to share the video in the country up north — possibly to test the waters. McDonald’s Canada seems to be getting a good response for the window it provided into its food manufacturing process, and the push for transparency could trickle down into the U.S. sooner rather than later.
Experts don’t believe that this newfound transparency will necessarily boost McDonald’s struggling sales, as experts point out that some consumers still may be turned off from the video. However, it does separate McDonald’s name from the pink goop and let the company tell its own story.