Have you seen the latest video making the rounds on social media sites regarding hamburgers? In this video, Buzzfeed put hamburgers from 7 different fast food joints in glass jars and waited 30 days to see what would develop. (Excuse the pun).
After 30 days, some were covered in mold and other yucky things, but not the burger from Mickey D’s. In fact, it looked exactly the same as the day they put it in the jar! You can see that short video here.
What the actual heck is going on ? Are Mickey D’s burgers made from space cows? Do they use some type of Alien wheat that doesn’t grow mold?
While there is no doubt that the visual part of this experiment can be nerve rattling, there are a few things you should take into consideration.
How Does Mold Grow
Mold grows wherever there are sufficient levels of moisture and when mold spores are present (which is on just about everything). With this knowledge in hand, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, restaurant chef and blogger, created his own experiment in an attempt to find out why this one burger appeared to be ageless.
There are 5 main things that would stop mold from growing; some type of preservative, a high salt content in the meat, low moisture levels in the bun and/or meat, no air where the burger was made, and no mold spores ever coming into contact with the hamburger, EVER.
Well, it’s fairly obvious that the burgers were exposed to air and weren’t made in the vacuum of space! And since mold spores are pretty much everywhere (although some are killed on the burger itself when it is cooked), Lopez-Alt threw out these two ideas.
The ingredient list for the buns from all locations was pretty much the same. All fast food companies state that their meat is 100 percent beef, so there is no difference there. So this chef decided to make some of his own handmade burgers and compare them with Mickey D’s. A total of 9 different burgers were made, some from McDonald’s (mixing up a few buns and patty combinations) and several made at home by Lopez-Alt.
He made some burgers with extra salt, some with no salt, and he used a variety of buns from local supermarkets. He wore gloves in all phases of cooking and even when touching the McDonald’s burgers to ensure he did not contaminate them with anything from his skin.
All 9 burgers were left sitting on a plate in the open air of his kitchen for three weeks.
After three weeks, all burgers looked exactly the same. NONE of them had grown any mold. Those with no salt looked the same as the ones with extra salt, which looked exactly the same as the McDonald’s burger.
However, when the burgers were weighed, this is where the difference was found. Every single burger had lost at least 25 percent of their weight in the first week alone. This means they had lost their moisture and were dry. Mold must have moisture to grow.
McDonald’s tends to use very thin meat patties with quite a bit of surface area. This allows them to dry out very fast before they can grow mold. If you were to take a McDonald’s burger and put it directly in a plastic bag, which would seal in the moisture, it would be filled with mold quickly.
But What About the Video?
Since we don’t know anything about where or how these burgers were sealed, it leaves quite a few unanswered questions.
- Were the burgers sealed immediately after purchase?
- Where were they purchased? For example, burgers in Florida in the summer months would be subjected to a great deal more moisture than burgers in Phoenix.
- Do other fast food restaurants use thicker meat patties?
- In the video, the McDonald’s burger had cheese, but we don’t see cheese on every burger
- Were there any condiments added or removed?
In order to compare things, you need to have all burgers tested be subjected to the exact same procedures. Since the video doesn’t tell us more, we can only guess.
The Bottom Line
Of course, we are not suggesting that this means you should eat Burger King Hamburgers for lunch several times a week, simply because this video shows that they grew mold. Most fast food restaurants burger meals exceed everyone’s daily recommended amount of sugar, salt, and fat.
We should be objecting to the nutritional content of fast food meals, and not waste time speculating on why this burger did not grow mold.