Here’s The Beef: McDonald’s Lets Aussies Track Their Big Macs

Could this be the megachain's effort to get a toehold in the farm-to-table movement?

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Australian McDonald’s outlets are attempting to frame their businesses as being on the cutting edge of the farm-t0-table movement — at least when it comes to providing diners with instant information on the origins of everything from the beef to the lettuce in their Big Macs.

TrackMyMacca’s — which refers to Macca’s, the Australian nickname for McDonald’s — is a free app that lets people use their iPhones to scan barcodes on specially-packaged products served at the chain to find out where the food originally came from. It also profiles some of the farmers, fisherman and bakers who provide the ingredients. In a slightly creepy twist, the app records the location of the customer scanning the barcode and records the time and date when she did so. (The chain claims to need this information in order to pinpoint exactly where the ingredients came from.) Here’s a sample:

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Why the sudden interest in telling people when the pickles were brined? A promotional video explains: “Most people like the taste of McDonald’s, but there’s still some confusion about just how real our food is.” In other words, those chicken McNuggets (which are actually only 50% chicken) still seem like Frankenfood to a lot of people. That could also explain the folksy bios of suppliers like Graeme Acton, the multimillionaire CEO of Acton Land and Cattle Company, who looks like a regular guy in this still image from the promo video:

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The app currently tracks just the Big Mac, McChicken burger, Filet-O-Fish, Chicken McNuggets and fries. And while the fast food chain is certainly making an attempt to improve transparency, the concept is all too reminiscent of Portlandia’s sketch on local organic chicken. But sorry Portlanders, only Aussies get to test out the promotion, which is available for iPhone and iPad users until June 30, 2013. You can watch the full video explaining the app below.


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