In the Quick Service Restaurant business, McDonald's is by far the largest purchaser of U.S. beef. We remain absolutely committed to the U.S. beef industry. With 13,000 U.S. restaurants, McDonald's will continue to rely on U.S. beef producers in a big way, as we always have.
A well-documented shortage of lean beef in the U.S. is the driving force behind our decision to purchase limited amounts of Australian and New Zealand beef as part of a small test in the Southeast. With this test, we are only supplementing dwindling supplies of U.S. lean beef with small quantities of Australian and New Zealand beef.
„h The major QSR chains Burger King, Wendy's, Taco Bell, Carl's Jr. and many others have been using a significant percentage of imported beef for many years. Meanwhile, McDonald's is only conducting a limited test that involves less than 1 percent of the beef we will sell in our restaurants and a tiny amount of Australian/New Zealand beef compared to our vast U.S. beef purchasing commitments. As much as 50 percent of the beef our competitors offer is imported.
McDonald's has the highest standards for quality and food safety in the business. In everything we do, McDonald's uses only those products that meet or exceed the highest standards. Our stringent specifications are the reason McDonald's is known worldwide for consistency and quality. All beef served at McDonald's is 100 percent inspected and approved by the United States Department of Agriculture, as well as by McDonald's own rigorous inspection process. USDA inspects all export facilities in Australia and New Zealand, and approves all beef that McDonald's may purchase there. In addition, upon arrival in the U.S., the beef is inspected by USDA again.
McDonald's has longstanding working relationships with U.S. cattle and beef associations. During the past two years, we have worked closely with the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) to address the lean beef issue. We have worked with them to identify alternatives and have kept NCBA informed about the test.
Regardless of McDonald's use of imported beef for this test, quantities of Australian and New Zealand beef that come to the U.S. are controlled by a quota system. No additional beef will come to the U.S. beyond the existing quota restrictions.