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The McDonald's burger won't destruct. Here's why

By now, we've all heard about the indestructibility of the McDonald's burger. Morgan Spurlock showed its inability to decompose in his famous 2004 documentary "Super Size Me." And recently, artist Sally Davies documented an unchanging Happy Meal every day for 137 days.

But food web site Serious Eats conducted its own experiment to determine why McDonald's burgers don't rot or mold - and it found that creepy chemical preservatives and high salt levels may not be the answer.

By testing a McDonald's burger against ones made with store-bought buns and natural, home-ground beef patties, Serious Eats discovered that after at least 25 days in open air, neither the fast food-chain burger nor the home-made burgers rotted. One of the home-made burgers contained zero salt, and that didn't rot either, indicating high salt levels are not to blame.

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Serious Eats also tested two other burgers - a McDonald's burger and another homemade burger - by putting them side by side in plastic zipper-lock bags that would trap in the moisture necessary for bacteria and mould spores to grow. Within a week, both burgers were covered in white fuzzy mould.

Its summary? McDonald's burgers don't decompose because they're small and have a fairly large surface area, which allows them to dehydrate quickly before mold and bacteria can grow. Kind of like making beef jerky. It also helps that the meat starts off nearly sterile due to the high cooking temperature.

"For all of you McDonald's haters out there: Don't worry," concludes the web site. "There are still plenty of reasons to dislike the company! But for now, I hope you'll have it my way and put aside your beef with their beef."

Does this change your mind about eating the chain's burgers?

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About the Author

Wency Leung is a general assignment reporter for the Life section. Before joining The Globe in early 2010, she has worked as a reporter in Vancouver, Prague, and Phnom Penh. More

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