The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the Indian state of Maharashtra has taken action against a McDonald’s outlet in Ahmednagar for allegedly using cheese substitutes in their food products without proper disclosure, the Times Of India has reported.

The Indian state’s regulatory body has suspended the outlet’s licence and is pressing the fast-food chain to correct its menu labelling practices across the state and potentially nationwide.

The controversy began with an FDA inspection in October 2023 at McDonald’s Kedgaon branch in Ahmednagar.

The food inspector found that items such as cheesy nuggets and certain burgers were made with cheese analogues, which replace dairy with vegetable oil, but were not labelled as such.

FDA commissioner Abhimanyu Kale said: “During inspection, our officers did not find any mention of cheese analogues anywhere. Items like ‘cheese nuggets’, ‘cheesy dip’ and ‘cheese burger’ were being labelled as such without indicating that the cheese was a substitute.

“Menu cards should clearly state the use of analogues, addressing allergen concerns and diet concerns such as the presence of higher transfat.”

How well do you really know your competitors?

Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.

Company Profile – free sample

Thank you!

Your download email will arrive shortly

Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample

We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below form

By GlobalData
Visit our Privacy Policy for more information about our services, how we may use, process and share your personal data, including information of your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.

Following the inspection, McDonald’s was issued a show-cause notice for mislabelling on at least eight products.

The company contested this, but the outlet’s licence was suspended after their explanation was found unsatisfactory.

The commissioner has since mandated the clear labelling of cheese substitutes, including the display of nutritional information and allergen concerns, on up to 40% of establishment display boards.

In response to the FDA’s actions, McDonald’s India (West & South) has renamed products by removing the word “cheese” from their menu in the state.

Products have been rebranded, for example, from “cheesy nuggets” to “veg nuggets”.

However, the company denies using cheese substitutes and asserts that they use real cheese in their products.

The FDA’s crackdown is not limited to McDonald’s, as Kale hinted at potential investigations into other fast-food chains for similar practices.

Westlife Foodworld, a subsidiary of Hardcastle Restaurants and operator of McDonald’s, said in a statement: “Amid recent reports about the removal of ‘cheese’ from our menu at McDonald’s locations in Maharashtra, we want to assure our valued customers that only genuine, high-quality cheese is used in all our cheese-containing products.

“Collaborating with suppliers adhering to global standards ensures top-quality cheese in our product offerings and not cheese analogues or any substitute. We are actively engaging with the competent authorities on this issue and awaiting their final clarification.”