We have all read or heard about the McDonald's hamburger that would neither mold nor rot nor decompose in any significant way, supposedly showing how little food value actually exists in one. Real food wouldn't act like that, right?
Here, a food writer discourses on the subject.
"The problem with all of these tests is that there is but a single data point, and a single data point is about as useless as a one armed man in a clapping contest. Who knows why those burgers didn't decompose?…Without experimentation, there is no science. Without science, there is no proof. Without proof, there is no truth, and without truth, well where would we be?…It seems to me that the only thing that can last longer than a McDonald's hamburger is an internet meme about them. My project for the next few weeks: design and carry out the first well-documented, scientific experiment to shed some light on whether or not there is something truly evil lurking between the buns."
In order to reach the truth he designs his own controlled experiment, comparing:
- A plain McDonald's hamburger, stored on a plate at room temperature.
- A homemade burger of the same weight and dimensions as a McDonald's burger. (using a store-bought bun because who bakes their own buns?)
- A McDonald's hamburger patty on a store-bought bun.
- A homemade patty on a McDonald's bun.
- A McDonald's hamburger stored in its original packaging.
- A McDonald's hamburger stored in a zipper-lock bag.
- A plain Quarter Pounder.
- A homemade quarter pounder.
The results are.. surprising. And, to those of us who rather like sensational results and in particualr sensational results that condemn fast food and/or Big Business, disappointing. In a nutshell, neither the McDonald's hamburgers nor the homemade one developed more than a tiny bit of mold unless they were encased in plastic to contain their moisture and thereby foster mold.
"Pretty strong evidence…: the burger doesn't rot because its 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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A different experiment on the (sort-of) same topic (don't be put off by his long-winded introduction; it gets better):