McDonald's burgerImage copyright Getty Images

Fast food chain McDonald's has started offering fresh beef in burgers sold at its US restaurants.

McDonald's is looking to improve food quality and ward off competition from premium burger chains.

Burgers containing fresh beef will be sold at most of the chain's 14,000 US restaurants by the end of June.

McDonald's UK business said: "We will watch what happens in the US and see if this innovation is something we should consider in the UK.

"Our patties are made from 100% British and Irish beef with nothing added aside from a little salt and pepper after cooking."

McDonald's UK said that its beef patties were still cooked from frozen in its restaurants using "a process perfected over decades".

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Need for speed

The move to fresh beef is part of bigger changes at McDonald's, as new competitors, including burger chains such as Shake Shack, become a bigger part of the fast-food market, using fresh ingredients to differentiate themselves.

As part of its turnaround efforts in recent years, McDonald's has tweaked pricing and added to its menu. It has also ditched ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup in a bid to appeal to health-conscious customers.

"McDonald's is certainly responding to industry pressure, consumer pressure to make the change," said David Henkes, a senior principal at Technomic, a restaurant research consulting company.

"It's part and parcel of what they've been trying to do to create a different perception of McDonald's."

The firm has been testing the appetite for burgers made from fresh beef for about a year. The premium quarter pounder and other offerings are now available at about 3,500 McDonald's restaurants in the US, including in Miami, Orlando and Nashville.

These products are sold alongside existing burgers made using frozen meat.

Over the next month, fresh beef burgers will become available at restaurants in Los Angeles, Houston and San Francisco.

McDonald's US president Chris Kempczinski said that offering fresh beef was the most significant change to the restaurant chain's menu since it started offering all-day breakfast in 2015.

To keep service speedy, McDonald's had to make changes to its suppliers and kitchen crews.

"If it slows down the drive-through, that's the critical part of our business. And so we just had to spend a lot of time really making sure that as we were cooking only when someone ordered, we'd figured out a way to do it that wasn't going to slow down service time," said Mr Kempczinski.