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A McDonald’s Hamburger: 145 Days Later

McDonald's Hamburger after 145 DaysOne of the eating guidelines in Michael Pollan‘s Food Rules is to eat things that will eventually rot. Things like meat, fruits and vegetables, all eventually decompose, returning them to the organic cycle from which they came. Foods that don’t go bad, from Twinkies to Spam, have been highly processed. Not only are processed foods often full of synthetic chemicals, they’ve also been stripped of many of the nutrients that your body needs yet are still full of empty calories.

So, with this rule in mind, should you eat a McDonald‘s hamburger and fries? New York photographer Sally Davies has set out to answer this question. She’s been photographing a Happy Meal every day, to demonstrate how long it will take to decompose. She began the Happy Meal Project on April 10, 2010. Today is 145 days later and the meal looks nearly identical to day one. That’s some serious preservatives in action. Imagine that next to an unprocessed piece of beef that was fresh on April 10th. It would be rotten and festering.

The Happy Meal Project: Day 1 to 145McDonald’s meals are highly engineered to appeal to our senses of sight and smell. The taste is a secondary consideration and the nutritional value is hardly factored in.

Also Read:

What Keeps A McDonald’s Burger from Rotting

McDonald’s Happy Meal Makeover

McSmoothie Push Back: The Cheeseburger Chill

McDonald’s Angus Burgers Are a Nutritional Nightmare on a Bun

September 2nd, 2010

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(Page 1 of 1, 9 total comments)

The Finder

I'ld like to point out that the second picture does not look like the first. If you cannot see this, you're blind!

posted Jan 14th, 2011 6:01 pm


You people didnt read much about this, did you? There was another article which describes the preservatives used and also another incident in which a cheeseburger was kept for 12 years. FOOD IS ORGANIC AND THEREFORE SHOULD ROT, just like a dead human a dead cow rots, havent you people ever smelled road kill? ORGANIC MATERIALS ROT, some more than others BUT in the case of the preservative ridden cheeseburger and fries they still are the same? I WWILLLLLL NEEEEVVVVEEEER EVER EAT fast food ever again. FOOD IS SUPPOSED TO ROT YOU STUPID FOOLS

posted Nov 11th, 2010 10:49 pm

Mike Smith

Those photos don't look like the same stuff, the FF's especially. Ain't sayin' it ain't, just don't LOOK the same. Maybe she kinda move's 'em around so they don't feel all cramped up. If you put any cooked food in a low moisture (humidity) environment like you see inside a centrally air conditioned/heated home it will behave the same way. Go ahead, cook your own HB and fried (you can buy uncooked HB meat, buns in a package and some frozen fries at the corner grocery store if you didn't know) and set it out in the same environment and see for yourself. This story is about as big a non-story as I've ever seen.

posted Nov 11th, 2010 8:49 pm


No, no nancyb you are not comparing similar things. Moist bread may mold but dry and/or toasted bread should not mold under normal circumstances. Also a steak and ground beef are different things. But remember the McDonald's patty is 100% beef, it is also cooked in a manner that extracts much of the grease (which is found in any real meat). All of this stuff will mold if moist, I have seen it. I have worked in mold inhibition, without moisture there will be no mold to inhibit. This demonstration is pointless believe me!

posted Nov 11th, 2010 2:31 am

bence tóth

oh no!
i was eating everyday

posted Oct 19th, 2010 7:33 am


I have had cooked-but-no-preservatives- food definitely show the effects of time: green, furry bread after 5 days, horrible smelling grilled steak after ten. This is a fair demonstration, believe me!

posted Sep 9th, 2010 6:28 pm


Isn't this test invalid? You're testing COOKED food.

Comparing it to a Twinkie is invalid because a Twinkie isn't meat, plus it isn't a product you purchase raw and can cook.

Comparing it to Spam is somewhat valid, but Spam is both cured and is cooked, but not to the degree a burger is.

If you really want to test this, order an UNCOOKED McDonald's beef patty. Then compare it to UNCOOKED fresh ground beef.

Otherwise, this is bogus.

posted Sep 8th, 2010 6:55 pm

Jose Rocca

Ha, ha... It lasts more than the cow which it was made.

posted Sep 3rd, 2010 2:15 pm

Kelly Turner


Im surprised they haven't started pumping people full of food preservatives to prevent aging. That's my million dollar idea- don't steal it.

posted Sep 2nd, 2010 2:21 pm


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