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McDonald’s quietly changes soft serve

Company eliminates artificial flavors, preservatives from its ice cream

Notice something different about McDonald’s ice cream? Maybe not, but it is indeed changed.

The Oak Brook, Ill.-based burger giant said on Thursday that it has removed all artificial flavors, colors and preservatives from its vanilla soft serve — a change it began making in the fall and is now largely complete at its 14,000 U.S. locations.

The change impacts 60 percent of the desserts the company serves, including the company’s shakes and McFlurry desserts.

The company also said that it has removed high fructose corn syrup from its chocolate and strawberry McCafe shake syrup, and removed artificial ingredients from its whipped topping.

The move is only the latest in a series of changes McDonald’s has been making to its menu items in a bid to improve standing with consumers demanding more natural ingredients from restaurants.

That movement is spearheading some of the biggest changes in industry menus in restaurant history, as chains such as Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., Panera Bread Co., and Papa John’s International Inc. push hard to market their natural ingredients.

There’s evidence this works: Last year, McDonald’s removed artificial ingredients from its Chicken McNuggets and sales of the product spiked. The company also started using real butter on the English muffins used for Egg McMuffins.

“We’ve been raising the bar at McDonald’s on serving delicious food that our consumers can feel good about eating,” Darci Forrest, senior director of menu innovation at McDonald’s, said in a statement.

McDonald’s serves a lot of ice cream. The chain sold 68 million cones last year.

McDonald’s also said on Thursday that it plans to bring back its Rolo McFlurry this summer. The product, which the company offered in 2012, will be available nationwide from May 24 through Sept. 11.

Contact Jonathan Maze at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter at @jonathanmaze

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