McDonald's to use fresh beef on some US burgers

American fast food chain McDonald's announced a big menu change, another step in the bid to beef up sales

McDonald's announced Thursday it will shift to fresh beef in its new made-to-order Quarter Pounder hamburgers in most US restaurants as it seeks to beef up sales in its home market.

The fast-food chain by mid-2018 will move away from frozen beef on the popular hamburger, which will be cooked at the time of order, the company said in a news release.

The change, which does not affect the Big Mac and other beef products, follows a trial run in about 400 restaurants in Texas and Oklahoma that was well received.

"We received overwhelmingly positive feedback from customers and employees and we're proud to have been part of a test that is creating a watershed moment for McDonald's," Dallas/Fort Worth franchisee Joe Jasper said in a statement.

In a short video, McDonald's chief executive Steve Easterbrook said the company also was testing other customer-friendly changes such as home delivery, curbside check-in and mobile order and pay.

Easterbrook was installed as chief executive in 2015 to boost flagging sales. Changes have included the rollout of all-day breakfast in the US market, moving to cage-free eggs, and removing artificial preservatives from several menu items.

Easterbrook has focused on improving nuts-and-bolts operations, but Thursday's announcement is the latest menu tweak after rivals like Wendy's already touted their fresh beef burgers.

McDonald's in January reported slightly lower fourth-quarter earnings, with a drop in comparable sales in the US offset by gains in foreign markets, including China, Japan and some Latin American countries.

Shares of McDonald's rose 0.4 percent to $129.32.