From the USA Labeling Compliance site:
"Fresh, “Not Frozen” and Similar Terms when Labeling Meat and Poultry Products
The word “fresh” may not be used to describe:
- Any cured product, e.g., corned beef, smoked cured turkey or prosciutto.
- Any canned, hermetically sealed shelf stable, dried, or chemically preserved product.
- Any raw poultry, poultry part, or any edible portion thereof whose internal temperature has ever been below 26 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Any injected, basted, marinated poultry, poultry part or any edible portion thereof whose internal temperature has ever been below 26 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Any other finished processed poultry product (including cooked poultry products) where its temperature has ever been below 26 degrees Fahrenheit, e.g., turkey sausage, chicken meatballs, cooked breaded chicken nuggets, etc.
- Any uncured red meat product permitted to be treated with a substance that delays discoloration, such as, ascorbic acid, erythorbic acid, or citric acid…
- Any product treated with an antimicrobial substance or irradiated.
- The phrase “never frozen” or similar verbiage is not permitted on an unprocessed or processed poultry product where the internal temperature of the product has ever been below 0 degrees Fahrenheit or on any red meat product that has ever been frozen. Further, the phrase “never frozen” or similar verbiage is not permitted on refrigerated secondary products where the meat or poultry component has ever been frozen, e.g., multi-component meals, dinners, etc."
So if I understand the verbiage, since McDonald’s is not claiming “Never Frozen”, they can indeed sell frozen patties as long as there are no preserving methods (#6 & 7) and still call them “Fresh”.
They have tried the fresh quarter pounders at a select few test locations to work out the kitchen logistics. In order to roll out nationwide and have enough supply, I imagine they must need to stockpile enough first. How would they keep those fresh? Somewhere above 0 F so that it isn’t technically “frozen” such as is the case for poultry?