Food Safety from Farm to Happy Meal

The safety of our food is something I think most of us take for granted. Even as a dietitian, I admit that it’s not something that crosses my mind. I simply buy food at the store, prepare it, eat it and don’t think about all of the details that go into food safety on a daily basis.

This past month I had the opportunity to visit the OSI West Chicago plant with Illinois Farm Families where they work to supply McDonald’s with the meat for some of their burgers. It was super interesting to learn more how OSI upholds these food safety standards and how highly they value safety at every step in the process.

food safety tour

If you’ve been to McDonald’s then you know their menu items are the same (except for culturally different ones) no matter which McDonald’s you go to. That doesn’t just happen by accident! As you can imagine there are a lot of different systems and specifications for quality and appearance that need to be upheld during many steps in the process before the hamburger patties make it to the restaurant, even as far back as the farm the meat comes from.

Step One: The Farm

They have relationships with the farmers that they work with and it was so interesting to learn about the food “ecosystem” if you will. Although they have different roles when it comes to the food, they communicate and rely on one another to deliver the best possible food to you and me.

mcdonalda burger


McDonald’s is a founding member of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, and as such, OSI has to source beef from farms that meet certain sustainability criteria for their burger patties. The principles and criteria are:

  • Manage natural resources responsibly.
  • Respect people and communities.
  • Care for the welfare of animals.
  • Ensure the safety and quality of beef.
  • Drive efficiency and innovation to reduce waste and improve economic viability.

Step Two: The Processing 

OSI is a USDA inspected plant that has an extremely high level of food safety and quality standards in place to ensure that the burgers we’re ordering at McDonald’s are up to the unmatched standard of excellence that they are known for.

Food recalls are few and far between in general because of companies like OSI who pride themselves in delivering a quality food item. They’ve received many awards for safety, sanitation and more over the years and continue to be very dedicated to going above and beyond in these areas — setting the bar for other companies as well.

Sure I can tell you about the nutrition of the food, but learning about different steps in the production and handling process really brought a lot of that knowledge full circle. Safety and handling measures also work to ensure that we get a highly nutritious product across the board. The safety and handling measures that are put into place are effective and efficient so that we can get the highest quality of food as fast as possible.

It was a really neat experience to learn about all of the measures that go into place when it comes to the safety of our food and to be able to share it with others in this day and age where I feel like fear mongering about where our food comes from and how it’s handled can be very prevalent.

From what I saw a great job is being done to ensure the quality and safety of our food and I’m excited to learn more about this topic to help clear up common food myths!

Maggie Michalczyk


About Maggie

Maggie is a Chicago-based registered dietitian, recipe developer, and author of the Once a Upon a Pumpkin cookbook.

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