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McDonald's expands fresh beef test again

CHICAGO - McDonald's expanded its test of fresh beef to more than 300 restaurants this week, suggesting the world's largest burger chain could be getting closer to introducing never-frozen beef patties nationwide.

The company, headquartered in suburban Chicago, said it's now offering fresh beef at all of its 325 restaurants in the Dallas area. Previously, McDonald's had been testing fresh beef at 55 restaurants across the Dallas-Fort Worth area and 75 restaurants across northeast Oklahoma. It first started testing fresh beef in a handful of restaurants in the spring of last year.

The test of never-frozen beef only includes Quarter Pounder patties, not the smaller patties that come on hamburgers and Big Macs. It calls the burgers "hot off the grill." The testing process not only measures what customers think of the burgers, but also the price, kitchen efficiency and other factors that will determine whether it's a viable option to bring nationwide, the chain said.

McDonald's always does a trial run when it makes changes to its food or adds new menu items. Ensuring fresh beef fits into McDonald's operation is a complex study that means changes in how it is transported to the restaurants, how it is stored when it arrives and how much it affects employees' process of making burgers.

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