McDonald's says it is simplifying its grilled chicken recipe to remove ingredients people might not recognize, marking the latest sign the company is rethinking its menu to keep up with changing tastes.
The company says it expects the new Artisan Grilled Chicken to be in its more than 14,300 U.S. stores by the end of next week, in a new sandwich, as well as existing sandwiches, wraps and salads. It says the biggest change is the removal of sodium phosphates, which it said was used to keep the chicken moist, in favor of vegetable starch. The new recipe also does not use maltodextrin, which McDonald's said is generally used as a sugar to increase browning or as a carrier for seasoning.
Jessica Foust, director of culinary innovation at McDonald's, said the changes were made because customers said they want "simple, clean ingredients" they are familiar with.
The change comes as McDonald's fights to hold onto customers amid the growing popularity of places like Chipotle that position themselves as more wholesome alternatives to traditional fast-food.
That "clean label" trend has prompted numerous restaurant chains and packaged food makers to reformulate products, even while standing by the safety and quality of their previous recipes. Subway also introduced a new grilled chicken recipe earlier this year that it said had no artificial flavors or preservatives.