Debunked: Fast food hamburger that doesn't rot.

Soulfly

Banned
Banned
This story keeps popping up from time to time.
http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2013/04/25/14-year-old-mcdonald-hamburger-looks-almost-new/
David Whipple claims that he first bought it in July, 1999 as an experiment to show friends how enzymes work in preserving food, ABC News reported . Whipple kept the burger in the original paper bag from the fast food chain before forgetting about it in his coat’s pocket. Two years later his wife, Beverly, discovered there.
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I found this debunking of it.
http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives...f-the-12-year-old-burger-testing-results.html
So there we have it! Pretty strong evidence in favor of Theory 3: the burger doesn't rot because it's small size and relatively large surface area help it to lose moisture very fast. Without moisture, there's no mold or bacterial growth. Of course, that the meat is pretty much sterile to begin with due to the high cooking temperature helps things along as well. It's not really surprising. Humans have known about this phenomenon for thousands of years. After all, how do you think beef jerky is made?
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Pete Tar

Senior Member.
A good and systematic debunking of the McDonalds burger myth, and a nice example of a simple and well-controlled home experiment.
http://mobile.aht.seriouseats.com/a...f-the-12-year-old-burger-testing-results.html

A few weeks back, I started an experiment designed to prove or disprove whether or not the magic, non-decomposing McDonald's hamburgers that have been making their way around the internet are indeed worthy of disgust or even interest.
...

Dozens of other examples exist, and most of them come to the same conclusion: McDonald's hamburgers don't rot.
The problem with coming to that conclusion, of course, is that if you are a believer in science (and I certainly hope you are!), in order to make a conclusion, you must first start with a few observable premises as a starting point with which you form a theorem, followed by a reasonably rigorous experiment with controls built in place to verify the validity of that theorem.

Thus far, I haven't located a single source that treats this McDonald's hamburger phenomenon in this fashion. Instead, most rely on speculation, specious reasoning, and downright obtuseness to arrive at the conclusion that a McDonald's burger "is a chemical food[, with] absolutely no nutrition."

As I said before, that kind of conclusion is both sensationalistic and specious, and has no place in any of the respectable academic circles which A Hamburger Today would like to consider itself an upstanding member of.
...

Things we know so far:

  1. A plain McDonald's Hamburger, when left out in the open air, does not mold or decompose.
  2. In order for mold to grow, a few things need to be present: mold spores, air, moisture, and a reasonably hospitable climate
Given those two facts, there are a number of theories as to why a McDonald's burger might not rot:

  1. There is some kind of chemical preservative in the beef and/or bun and/or the wrapping that is not found in a normal burger and/or bun that creates an inhospitable environment for mold to grow.
  2. The high salt level of a McDonald's burger is preventing the burger from rotting.
  3. The small size of a McDonald's hamburger is allowing it to dehydrate fast enough that there is not enough moisture present for mold to grow
  4. There are no mold spores present on McDonald's hamburgers, nor in the air in and around where the burgers were stored.
  5. There is no air in the the environment where the McDonald's hamburgers were stored.


    .....

    I decided to design a series of tests in order to ascertain the likeliness of each one of these separate scenarios (with the exception of the no-air theory, which frankly, doesn't hold wind—get it?). Here's what I had in mind:
    • Sample 1: A plain McDonald's hamburger stored on a plate in the open air outside of its wrapper.
    • Sample 2: A plain burger made from home-ground fresh all-natural chuck of the exact dimensions as the McDonald's burger, on a standard store-bought toasted bun.
    • Sample 3: A plain burger with a home-ground patty, but a McDonald's bun.
    • Sample 4: A plain burger with a McDonald's patty on a store-bought bun.*
    • Sample 5: A plain McDonald's burger stored in its original packaging.
    • Sample 6: A plain McDonald's burger made without any salt, stored in the open air.
    • Sample 7: A plain McDonald's Quarter Pounder, stored in the open air.
    • Sample 8: A homemade burger the exact dimension of a McDonald's Quarter Pounder.
    • Sample 9:A plain McDonald's Angus Third Pounder, stored in the open air

...

Every day, I monitored the progress of the burgers, weighing each one, and carefully checking for spots of mold growth or other indications of decay. The burgers were left in the open air, but handled only with clean kitchen tools or through clean plastic bags (no direct contact with my hands until the last day).
...
The Conclusion
So there we have it! Pretty strong evidence in favor of Theory 3: the burger doesn't rot because it's small size and relatively large surface area help it to lose moisture very fast. Without moisture, there's no mold or bacterial growth. Of course, that the meat is pretty much sterile to begin with due to the high cooking temperature helps things along as well. It's not really surprising. Humans have known about this phenomenon for thousands of years. After all, how do you think beef jerky is made?
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(visit page for full experiment and results)
 
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