CHICAGO — McDonald's Corp. has eliminated all artificial preservatives, flavors and added colors from artificial sources from the seven classic burgers on its U.S. menu — except the pickle, which contains an artificial preservative, the company said. The changes affect the hamburger, cheeseburger, double cheeseburger, the McDouble, the Quarter Pounder with Cheese, the Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese and the Big Mac in all 14,000 U.S. restaurants.

“This development demonstrates our commitment to leading with the customer and building a better McDonald’s,” said Chris Kempczinski, McDonald’s USA president. “We know quality choices are important to our customers. From switching to 100% fresh beef in our quarter-pound burgers, cooked right when ordered in a majority of our restaurants, to removing artificial preservatives in our Chicken McNuggets, we’ve made significant strides in evolving the quality of our food — and this latest positive change to our classic burgers is an exciting part of that story.”

To achieve the changes, McDonald’s said it removed calcium propionate from its buns, sorbic acid from its American cheese and potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate and calcium disodium EDTA from its Big Mac sauce. The company said its American cheese is a blend of cheddar and Colby, plus salt, cream and color, but no oil, starch or fillers.

“We understand that now more than ever, people care about their food — where it comes from, what goes into it and how it is prepared — and we are committed to make changes to our menu our guests feel good about,” said Linda VanGosen, McDonald’s vice-president of menu innovation.

McDonald's food journey infographic

McDonald's said since 2014 it has been “laser-focused on using our size and scale to implement meaningful changes across our entire menu, changes that we know are important to our customers, our franchisees, our people and our planet.” Other ingredient changes have included a switch from margarine to butter on breakfast sandwiches, the removal of high-fructose corn syrup from hamburger buns, new recipes for such items as vanilla soft-serve and baked apple pie, and a commitment to source cage-free eggs and chicken not treated with antibiotics important to human medicine.