When talking about fast food giants, nothing can be bigger – and more infamous – than McDonald’s. Those two “golden arches” sign are so abundant and so well-known all over the world that some toddlers can even recognize it even before they can speak full sentences.
In 2014, over 36,258 McDonald’s restaurants operate worldwide,1 serving over 69 million people every day. From its humble beginnings in the 1940s, the brand has now grown to be a multi-billion dollar company with an estimated value of over $85 billion.
And the fast food’s most popular menu item? The burgers.
According to The Fiscal Times, McDonald’s sells 75 burgers every second. That amounts to over 2.36 billion burgers per year – roughly the equivalent of eating a million cows.
For many people, nothing seems wrong with eating a McDonald’s hamburger. After all, it looks and tastes the same as other burger patties, and the added convenience makes it a much sought-after meal for busy people, those who are on-the-go, or those who simply do not have time to cook food at home.
But considering just how much burger patties are sold per day, haven’t you ever wondered just how McDonald’s hamburgers are made and, more importantly, what they’re made of?
Even more disturbing are the reports of McDonald’s burgers that do not decompose or rot for weeks, months, or even years after they’ve been cooked.
McDonald’s Hamburger Shows No Signs of Decomposition – Even After a Decade
There have been multiple stories going viral about McDonald’s hamburgers that show no signs of rotting or molding. One example is that of David Whipple, a man from Utah, who came forward in 2013, claiming that he had a McDonald’s hamburger that dates back to 1999 – but is yet to show any sign of decomposition.
Whipple initially bought the burger to keep for two weeks and show to his friends, but then forgot about it. Two years later, he found it in his coat pocket, with the original receipt, with no signs of rotting or mold. He decided to keep it to see how long it will disintegrate. According to ABC News website:
“‘The patty feels like concrete,’ Whipple said of the burger he has held onto for 14 years, first on purpose, then by accident, and then for a good laugh. Whipple… was living in Logan, Utah, and trying to lose weight when he first purchased the hamburger to prove to his friends that fast food was not real food.
‘It was nothing real scientific,’ Whipple said. ‘We were talking about enzymes, and we knew what a good food like a banana would do but weren’t sure what a hamburger would do.’
Two weeks later, Whipple got his answer. The burger’s pickles and onion toppings had begun to shrink but the bun and hamburger ‘looked the same,’ he said.
Whipple was invited to guest on the TV show The Doctors to talk about his experience. He said he uses the burger to encourage his grandkids to eat healthily and avoid fast food.
I’ve featured stories about these “everlasting McDonald’s burgers” on my site many years ago, like that of Manhattan artist Sally Davies’ “The Happy Meal Project,” where she photographed a McDonald’s Happy Meal every day for six months. (You can view the full photostream on her website.)
Karen Hanrahan, a wellness educator and nutrition consultant, also claimed to have kept a McDonald’s hamburger since 1996. It still looks as fresh as a newly bought one.
A Closer Look at a McDonald’s Hamburger Ingredients
According to McDonald’s website, the only ingredient in its hamburger is 100 percent pure USDA-Inspected beef, prepared with grill seasoning (salt and black pepper) and without fillers and extenders.
The fast food chain also refutes speculations that an “unknown” preservative is among their McDonald’s hamburger ingredients, and says that their burgers and buns do not decompose simply because they “become very dry in the cooking and toasting process.” According to a Business Insider article
“…the patty loses water in the form of steam during the cooking process. The bun, of course, is made out of bread. Toasting it reduces the amount of moisture. This means that after preparation, the hamburger is fairly dry. When left out open in the room, there is further water loss as the humidity within most buildings is around 40%. So in the absence of moisture or high humidity, the hamburger simply dries out, rather than rot.”
Indeed, part of the embalmed-like feature of the meat patty can be because of its high sodium content. Salt is a natural preservative that has been used throughout history.