This is courtesy of LiveWell Wellness Centers. It’s an old meme, but seems to be brought back from the dead frequently under different variations. While the claim is probably true, that the food hasn’t molded or decomposed, the implication is extremely misleading. It’s clearly implying that there are so many preservatives and chemicals in fast food that it never spoils. The perpetrators of this meme are either extremely ignorant, or are deliberately misleading people to push their belief that fast food is unhealthy. It may be true that certain fast foods are unhealthy, and fine to advocate against them, but the least we can expect from health “experts” is to give us the truth, not propaganda.
This blog does an excellent job of debunking this myth with a simple experiment. It turns out the reason why the small fast food burgers don’t mold is because they dry out before given a chance. In order for mold to grow you must have air, mold spores, moisture, and a hospitable climate. Without moisture, the food will not spoil or decompose. Just think of beef jerky. Essentially, these fast food burgers turned into jerky, although not one you’d want to eat!
Not only will fast food burgers not mold, but neither will homemade ones, if you leave them out to dry. Try the experiment at home, it’s a great science project for kids. The only caveat is that the burger (or any food) must be small enough to dry out. A thicker burger has more volume relative to surface area, and will generally mold as some of the moisture still remains in the patty. Notice all the burgers in the meme are small. If you purchase a larger one, like a quarter-pounder, it will likely mold, as it did for this researcher. The final nail in this meme’s coffin is when the researcher put the fast food burger in a plastic bag. Since this didn’t allow it to dry out, both the bun and the burger molded. If you think about it, McDonald’s would be pretty happy if their food didn’t spoil; after all, it would cut way down on refrigeration and storage costs!