McDonald's banned one key ingredient from its salads

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McDonald's overhauled its salads last year and removed one key ingredient: iceberg lettuce.

The company said customers had been complaining that the salads weren't healthy enough.

"McDonalds came to us... and said, 'We really want to change our salad blend, we've heard from consumers that they want bolder flavors and higher nutritional content in a sustainable way,'" said Ali Leon, vice president of marketing for McDonald's supplier Ready Pac Foods.

"We worked for over a year to find what was best, how we could sustainably source it, and how we could deliver it consistently to McDonald's restaurants."

The first change they made was removing the iceberg lettuce.

"Iceberg lettuce is just basically water and cellulose," with no real nutritional content, Leon said. Consumers today are less concerned about calories, and more concerned about flavor and nutrition, she added.

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So the company replaced the iceberg with baby romaine, baby kale, and a baby Tuscan blend. The blend is the base for all of McDonald's salads.

Leon said it wasn't difficult for suppliers to make the change.

"We removed the iceberg from the fields and replaced it with romaine and then we added new crops of the baby spinach and baby kale and baby Tuscan blend," she said.

McDonald's isn't the only fast-food chain that has recently turned against iceberg lettuce, which has been a staple in salads since the 1930s.

Chick-fil-A has also banned the ingredient from its kitchens, as we reported earlier this year.

"We have a mandate: Never use iceberg lettuce," David Farmer, Chick-fil-A vice president of menu strategy and development told Business Insider at the time.

"It's at the bottom of the salad food chain," he said. "There is no nutritional value in iceberg lettuce."

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