Where's the beef? At some McDonald's in Texas, it's getting fresher

The company says it is currently testing fresh beef at 14 restaurants in Dallas, one of a slew of options it's offering to appeal to consumers' shifting tastes.

Gene J. Puskar/AP
A McDonald's restaurant sign glimmers on 42nd Street near Times Square in New York. McDonald’s says it’s testing fresh beef at 14 restaurants in Dallas, though it's still too early to tell if that could become a permanent option on menus around the country.

There's a new beef patty on the menu in some McDonalds restaurants in Texas: fresh beef.

So far, the fresh patties are only available on quarter pounders in 14 restaurants in Dallas, Texas, and the company says it's too early to say whether the "flash frozen" patties that have long been a menu-staple will be replaced with fresh beef in other parts of the country, CNN reports.

Part of McDonald's fast-food appeal has always been that, no matter where they are, customers know what they can expect when they walk into a local store. In recent years, however, that time-tested taste has lost some of its market appeal, as consumer food choices have changed. And the fast food industry has been scrambling to catch up.

The fresh beef experiment, which began in November without any advertising, is one of an array of local options and experimental products being tested at McDonalds locations across the country.

As consumers grow increasingly conscious of what's in their food and where it's grown, the company has also begun offering non-traditional options that appeal to current food trends. At 800 restaurants in Southern California, customers can order a breakfast bowl that features egg whites, Chobani yogurt, and kale.

The company has also tried out items with more comfort-food appeal in particular locations, offering macaroni and cheese in Ohio, garlic fries in San Francisco, and sweet potato fries in Texas. 

"Like all of our tests, this one too is designed to see what works and what doesn't within our restaurants," Lisa McComb, a McDonald's spokeswoman, said in a statement.

While the company isn't advertising the tests in Texas, it is asking customers to provide feedback on the taste, Ms. McComb said.

In addition to gaining a boost from its introduction of all-day breakfast in October 2015, chief executive Steve Easterbrook has attempted to woo back customers from newer favorites such as Five Guys and Shake Shack by introducing several new burgers.

The venerable burger chain has also put a more premium spin on its burgers in Britain, testing a "signature collection" of three high-end burgers on brioche buns last fall.

The burgers, which are being tested in 28 restaurants, offer a thicker patty of 100 percent British and Irish beef in three varieties. The company says they were created with the help of a "team of chefs with a wide range of experience from Michelin starred restaurants to cooking for international royalty."

Unlike the burgers in Texas, this "signature collection" is being marketed in distinctive black packaging with black fry boxes.

So far, the experimental approach, which has also been embraced by other fast food giants and smaller chains such as Chipotle, appears to be working.

McDonald's shares rose 25 percent in 2015, with its stock outperforming both other fast food titans and popular options such as the casual restaurant chain Panera.

The company's profits have also surged 35 percent in the most recent quarter, with the introduction of all-day breakfast providing a key boost.

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