Happy Meals? Happy times… a study of burgers over time

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt does cool stuff with food. And he’s just done it again. He set out to debunk a popular myth about McDonalds – the idea that their burgers not decomposing is somehow a damning indictment on their food. How? Well, he cooked some home made burgers and recorded similar results.

Here’s where he describes his experiment, and here are the findings.

His conclusion:

“… the burger doesn’t rot because it’s small size and relatively large surface area help it to lose moisture very fast. Without moisture, there’s no mold or bacterial growth. Of course, that the meat is pretty much sterile to begin with due to the high cooking temperature helps things along as well. It’s not really surprising. Humans have known about this phenomenon for thousands of years. After all, how do you think beef jerky is made?

Now don’t get me wrong—I don’t have a dog in this fight either way. I really couldn’t care less whether or not the McDonald’s burger rotted or didn’t. I don’t often eat their burgers, and will continue to not often eat their burgers. My problem is not with McDonald’s. My problem is with bad science.”