Rumours about buns not decomposing, the bright yellow hue of cheese and the exact makeup of chicken nuggets are among the most frequently asked questions by customers in the year since McDonald's New Zealand launched its online answer service.
Our Food, Your Questions launched last November and has received 3400 queries from Kiwis seeking the truth about the fast food.
McDonald's has given the Herald an exclusive look at the questions being asked by consumers here.
There were 269,630 visits to the site, with an average duration of 3 minutes and 43 seconds spent visiting.
The most commonly asked questions were about beef patties, fries and chicken nuggets, followed by the freshness and source of ingredients.
Also featuring were people hoping to get to the bottom of widespread information about the "pink slime" used to make chicken nuggets and that some menu items do not decompose for a number of years.
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver recently released videos and photos of "pink slime" - meat from Advanced Meat Recovery systems that treat it with chemicals and turn it into a sludgy pink substance - that was reportedly a main ingredient in McDonald's products.
McDonald's New Zealand says the product has never been used here. The company also explained away photos of burgers that appeared to not decompose by saying the food dries out after cooking and if they are not in moist and humid environments, they continue to dry out.
A McDonald's spokeswoman said the long-term campaign was launched to "debunk a number of myths and conspiracies Kiwis have".
"The unique initiative lifts the lid on the Golden Arches and allows New Zealanders to have an honest conversation with McDonald's through a dedicated website."
She said there was a response team of "subject matter experts" and a copywriter who researched and responded to queries.
A combination of written answers, images, infographics and videos are used to answer questions.
The same programme has been launched at McDonald's restaurants around the world.
Top 10 questions about McDonald's
1. Are the beef patties 100% beef?
A: Our beef patties are 100% export quality Kiwi beef. Meat is not bleached and has no fillers, binders, additives or preservatives.
2. How do you make your fries, why are they skinny, why so much salt?
A: Fries are made from New Zealand potatoes and cooked in a canola/sunflower blend cooking oil before specifically-sized salt [grains] are added. You can actually order fries without salt.
Introducing thick cut fries would mean years of trial and error to create a new product.
3. What's in the Chicken McNuggets?
A: Chicken breast, some skin, water and seasonings for flavour and texture. After mincing, the breast and skin are mixed with the water and seasoning before shaping under pressure and being battered, breaded and coated with batter.
"Pink slime" has never been used in any McDonald's products in New Zealand.
4. Is your food fresh?
Tomatoes and lettuce are delivered fresh and used within a week, some onions are dehydrated and then soaked in water. Food is cooked in batches and discarded if left after its holding time.
5. What oil do you use?
A: A sunflower and canola oil blend.
6. Do you use free range eggs/chicken/meat?
A: 13% of eggs are free range and used in Dunedin and Christchurch, the rest are caged eggs from farms that comply with regulations.
The rest of meat is not free range, though fish are caught in the wild.
7. What's in the cheese and why is it so yellow?
A: Cheddar cheese is the primary ingredient. It's blended with other cheeses and ingredients such as salt, water, milk solids, emulsifier, colours and preservative ingredients.
The golden or yellow colour comes from seed and spice extracts.
8. What is in your buns, how do you make them, and why don't they go mouldy?
A: Flour, water, sugar, canola oil, salt yeast, enzymes, antioxidant. Burgers sometimes don't go mouldy when left out at room temperature, in a dry environment, because once the food is cooked there isn't enough moisture to support bacterial growth to break it down. Instead, it simply dries out.
9. What fish is in your Fillet O'Fish?
A: Hoki from the New Zealand hoki fishery.
10. What are the gluten-free options?
There are plans to make a gluten-free bun, but at the moment only french fries and some salads are gluten free. There is a risk of cross-contamination with gluten during the preparation process.
Recipe from bite.co.nz
Photo / Bite magazine
Want to know what's really in your burger? Make your own version of the McDonald's Big Mac at home.