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McDonald's burgers don't rot!

india Updated: Sep 06, 2010 18:26 IST

Think before you happily feed your kid the food chain's popular Happy Meal. A recent research showed that their burger and a packet of fries stayed undecayed for 143 days! The chain's burgers can last for years without rotting.

Started by New York photographer Sally Davies, as a part-art, part-food science experiment, the Happy Meal project involved Davies documenting a Happy Meal every few days until it spoilt. On day 137, the meal still looked pretty great, reported

There are other bizarre examples of the 'shelf life' of the products of the mammoth food chain. A lady has been carrying around a burger in her purse for the last four years and another burger somewhere has been the same for the last twelve years.

burgerWhile each experiment brings with it a new wave of fear and outrage over the chemicals and preservatives that are making our fast food almost inorganic, the food chain itself has been remarkably silent over the concerns expressed.

However, it's not just the preservatives that keep the fungus away. Marion Nestle, chairwoman of New York University's food studies programme, told the site that McDonald's would have to use "really a lot of" sodium propionate to prevent bacterial or mold growth.

McDonald's French fries, for example, which have repeatedly proven their hardiness to spoilage, contain citric acid as a preservative. But a bigger factor might be the fat content of the fries. About 50 per cent of the total 250 calories contained in a small order of fries come from fat. "Anything that is high in fat will be low in moisture," says Barry Swanson, a professor at the Washington State University department of food science.

And low moisture means less room for mould to grow. They're crisper and thinner than regular fries, which means that they're exposed to greater heat per surface area, killing pathogens and reducing water content. McDonald's fries are also coated in a nice, thick layer of salt, something we've been using as a natural preservative, reported the site.

The patty in the burger is supposedly also high in fat and has been cooked at a high temperature for longer life. The sesame-seed bun contains calcium propionate and sodium propionate which are both preservatives.

However, scientists dismiss the possibility that Mcdonald's food has anything unusual that ensures its long life. They claim that a Happy Meal manages to stay unspoiled because it is fatty, salty and practically empty of nutrients - which, really, are all good reasons to avoid it anyway.

So, a Happy Meal may not make you that happy after all!