After a TV appearance by what’s being billed as a 14-year-old McDonald’s hamburger, the fast-food chain has been doing spin control — trying to ease fears that the still-edible-looking burger offers evidence that the company’s food is a little too well-preserved.
The Los Angeles Times reports that McDonald’s is downplaying the burger, which made an appearance on the syndicated show “The Doctors.”
“The fast-food chain says the apparent lack of mold or disintegration is actually no big deal, and suggests that the burger’s pristine appearance — assuming it’s not a prank — is likely the result of dehydration, and not funky preservatives,” the Times reports.
The burger’s owner, Utah resident David Whipple, who has tried to sell it on eBay and who calls it the “World’s Oldest Hamburger,” says it has never been refrigerated. He reportedly left it in a coat pocket after buying it in 1999, and after his wife later discovered it, he decided to save it.
“The hamburger has been in the headlines of late, most recently on ‘The Doctors,’” the Times reports. “Dr. Travis Stork donned medical gloves to examine the McDonald’s hamburger that looks barely an hour old.”
A panelist on the show asked, "How can it not be moldy?, prompting pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears to respond: "It’s called ‘preservatives.’ If the mold won’t eat it, if the fungus won’t eat it, bugs won’t eat it. Maybe … we shouldn’t be eating it."
But McDonald’s, which release an exhaustive, science-heavy press release in response to the burger, offers a different viewpoint.
"McDonald’s hamburgers are freshly prepared in our restaurants,” the statement says. “While not knowing the conditions in which the food was kept in this specific claim, what is scientifically known is that … bacteria and mold only grow under certain conditions.”
The Times adds: “McDonald’s goes on to say that many other foods purchased and kept in a dry environment would hold up the same.”
The company’s statement explains: "For example, without sufficient moisture — either in the food itself or the environment in which it is held — bacteria and mold and associated decomposition, is unlikely. If food is/or becomes dry enough, it won’t grow mold or bacteria. In fact, any food purchased from a restaurant or grocery store or prepared at home that lacks moisture would also dehydrate and see similar results if left in the same environment."
The statement also asserts: "McDonald’s hamburger patties in the U.S. are made with 100% USDA-inspected beef. They are cooked and prepared with salt, pepper and nothing else — no preservatives — no fillers. Our hamburger buns are made from North American-grown wheat flour. These are the same foods that people buy every day in their local grocery stores."