Shine On

14-year-old McDonald’s hamburger shows no signs of mould

Behold, yet another story about a random person on a mission to show the world what they believe to be unusually high levels of preservatives in McDonald's food.

The pickle has disintegrated, but otherwise, the 14-year-old burger remains relatively intact. (David Whipple)The pickle has disintegrated, but otherwise, the 14-year-old burger remains relatively intact. (David Whipple)Utah resident David Whipple claims he bought a hamburger from McDonald's in 1999 and kept it around for two months to show his friends how it would remain unchanged because of preservatives. But in an interesting twist, he says he then accidentally left the burger in his coat pocket for two years, forgetting he had it.

The result? Fourteen years later, he still has a perfectly-formed hamburger that appears without mould or an odour, yet with a disintegrated pickle.

"It wasn't on purpose," Whipple says after recently appearing the television show "The Doctors."

"It ended up in a paper sack in the original sack with the receipt in my coat pocket tossed in the back of my truck and it sat there for, I don't know, two or three months."

At that point the coat got moved into the house and was forgotten about.

Also see: The Perfect Bite: Which fast food burger is the most healthy?

"My wife didn't discover it until at least a year or two after that. And we pulled it out and said, 'oh my gosh. I can't believe it looks the same way.'"

Fast forward 14 years, and it still shows only minor signs of aging.

McDonald's offers this possible explanation for the burger when asked to comment.

"Without sufficient moisture – either in the food itself or the environment in which it is held – bacteria and mould and associated decomposition, is unlikely."

Reassuring? Maybe not. But then again it's not as though the fast food giant should be surprised by this line of questioning. They've had many years of practice coming up with sound bites regarding the lack of decomposition of their food.

For those you unfamiliar with the onslaught of news stories involving McDonald's crusaders like Whipple, here's a refresher.

Also see: McDonald's testing new 'classy' table service at Australian restaurant

Back in 2010, New York City artist Sally Davies started photographing her McDonald's hamburger and french fries every few weeks for her Happy Meal Art Project. The experiment is still ongoing and she recently hit her three year anniversary on April 10, 2013. To date, the burger and fries show no sign of mould or noticeable decomposition.

And then there is Bryan Marcel, who in 2011 posted a YouTube video showing the difference between one year old McDonald's french fries and one week old organic french fries. Of course, the organic fries were covered in mould and the McDonald's fries look virtually new.

The skeptics will be happy to know The Burger Lab blog and experiment offers specific reasons why McDonald's food appears without mould after 25 days, and shows that other homemade burgers also look very similar.

"Well, well, well. Turns out that not only did the regular McDonald's burgers not rot, but the home-ground burgers did not rot either. Samples one through five had shrunk a bit (especially the beef patties), but they showed no signs of decomposition," writes blogger J. Kenji López-Alt.

What is your opinion on the McDonald's take down? Is there really anything unusual about what is in the company's food?

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