OFTEN when we decide what to order at McDonald’s, our attention is focused on the juicy patties, tender chicken and fish fillets, but what about the buns that hold them together?
McDonald’s Malaysia puts in as much effort and thought into the making of the fluffy buns as it does the filling.
The restaurant chain was the first quick service restaurant to receive a halal certificate from Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) in the mid- 1990s.
According to McDonald’s Malaysia internal halal committee chairman and board of directors member Wan Mohd Zam Wan Embong, McDonald’s applies very stringent measures in terms of choosing suppliers and raw materials.
“McDonald’s only deals with halal-certified food suppliers with highest cleanliness and stringent quality standards on par with the best global practices.
“All raw materials and ingredients used are certified 100% halal-certified by Jakim or other halal authorities overseas that are recognised by Jakim,” he said.
StarMetro was given the opportunity to visit Aryzta Malaysia’s facility in Shah Alam, Selangor, which supplies buns to McDonald’s outlets nationwide.
Based in Zurich, the Swiss food business company specialises in bakery products, with operations in Europe, United States, South-East Asia and Australasia.
Globally, Aryzta’s partnership with McDonald’s started in 1962, and the company has been McDonald’s Malaysia’s bakery products supplier since its facility branch opened in 2012.
According to Aryzta, the company is now the third largest bakery in the world and a leading global player in the bakery industry.
Throughout its four years operating in the country, Aryzta has invested US$16mil (RM66.87bil) with future plans to build a second bakery within the next five years.
Prior to entering the production environment, we were required to remove all jewellery and equip ourselves with protective coats, hair nets and proper shoes.
It was also compulsory for all of us to sanitise our hands at a designated area as well as clean our shoes at the brushing machine.
Upon entering, we saw batches of dough and buns travelling from one end of the facility to the other through various processes via a series of connecting ramps and conveyor belts.
Led by Aryzta Malaysia managing director (Asia) Laurence Halvy, our first stop was the raw material room, where all stocks were labelled accordingly for inventory management and tracking reference purposes.
The main ingredients used in the bakery’s bun production are flour, sugar, salt, yeast, palm oil and sesame seed.
The process starts out with auto-weighing the exact amount of bulk ingredients including flour and water, to be mixed into a sponge dough before it goes through a three-hour fermentation process.
Other ingredients such as sugar, vegetable oil, yeast and salt are added during the dough-mixing stage after which the dough is transferred to the divider to be cut into smaller portions.
“Then, the rounded dough is dusted lightly with flour to prevent it from sticking together while going through an intermediate proofing process before the sheeting procedure,” said Aryzta Malaysia general manager Annie Tan.
Intermediate proofing is the short rest period between the process of dough-dividing and moulding, while the latter means sheeting and rolling the dough into a desired shape.
The dough is then placed on baking pans, a process called dough-panning, heading into the proofer before baking.
“It takes up to 60 minutes in the proofer with controlled temperatures and humidity for the dough pieces to rise.
“The dough are then sprinkled with specific toppings according to the types of bun such as corn meal and sesame seeds, before going into the oven,” said Halvy, adding that it takes approximately eight minutes at 200˚C to bake, depending on the product type.
The pleasing smell of bread filled the air as freshly bakedbuns were taken out of the oven and transferred onto the next connecting conveyor belt by soft suction cups.
The buns continued their way towards the giant cooler while the baking pans went through a two-tier brushing stage before returning to the first station, and the cycle of transporting more dough repeated.
“It takes up to 30 minutes for the buns to cool down before slicing according to specifications and being sent for packing.
“The buns also go through two metal detectors before and after packing for thorough inspection of foreign materials,” said Halvy.
After the final packing stage, the buns are ready to be delivered to McDonald’s restaurants in trays.
Tan said the trays go through a thorough wash-rinse-dry process when they return from the restaurants.
“Bun deliveries across peninsular Malaysia are scheduled up to three to four times a week.
“As for Sabah and Sarawak, the buns are frozen to preserve freshness before deliveries are made two to three times a week,” said Wan Mohd.
The shelf life of buns is determined from the day they are baked plus another five days while those frozen can last up to 59 days from the day they were baked.
The bakery runs six days a week with two production shifts and produces fresh products everyday.
Overall, Aryzta has more than 65 workers and produces about 350,000 buns per day and an average of nine million buns a month.
The next time you bite into a McDonald’s burger, it should definitely taste better knowing where it came from.