The Great Hamburger Experiment Day 18: The Final Results Are In!
For those of you just hearing about The Great Hamburger Experiment, let me recap. In October, various media outlets carried a story about an experiment photographer Sally Davies carried out. One day, she went out and bought America's favorite fast food meal...a Happy Meal with French Fries. Then, for the next 6 months she took daily pictures of the meal and was astounded that absolutely no mold had grown on either the hamburger or french fries during that long time period. Because no mold had grown, Sally and people around the world took that to mean that the McDonald's meal was some kind of mutant food. McDonald's detractors ran with this and spread the information on the "experiment" throughout the internet.
For the Weather Underground office, there was only one problem. The experiment that Sally Davies undertook was very unscientific. If you just took her experiment at face value, you could honestly ask the question, "How do you know that every hamburger made wouldn't do the same exact thing?"
So, I designed an experiment that would, once and for all, decide if McDonald's hamburgers are capable of producing mold. Along with other Weather Underground employees, we bought two McDonald's hamburger Happy Meals and seal one of them in a plastic bag while placing the other on a paper plate out in the open. Then, we cooked two all beef hamburger patties, slipped them between two buns, and sealed one in a plastic bag and put the other on a paper plate out in the open.
This is the way Ms. Davies' initial experiment should have been carried out. The control of the experiment would be the two hamburgers we cooked in the office, and the sealed bags would decide whether containing the moisture is the deciding factor on whether mold will grow.
The results are in
This is how the hamburgers look on Day 18 in my office.
The hamburgers might be too small to see in this image so here are the close up photos.
First are the hamburgers left on a paper plate out in the open air.
The Weather Underground cooked hamburger:
And the McDonald's Happy Meal hamburger:
As you can see, NEITHER of the hamburgers have any visible mold growing on them. This result not only replicates Ms. Davies experiment, it also shows that ANY hamburger placed out in the open will NOT grow mold. This is true because of the simple fact that mold needs moisture to grow. When hamburgers are left out in the open, the moisture in the patties and the hamburger buns simply evaporates. In fact, both of the outside hamburgers and hamburger buns were completely rock hard by Day 2 of the experiment. So, the moisture evaporated rather quickly. Ms. Davies' experiment has officially been proven inadequate and should be recounted by her and the media who picked up the story.
But that's not it, there's more
Then of course, comes the second experiment of the hamburgers sealed inside the plastic bags. For these two hamburgers, it was a much different story than their counterparts.
First, is the Weather Underground cooked hamburger sealed inside the plastic bag:
And of course, the McDonald's hamburger Happy Meal sealed inside the plastic bag:
The results could not be more clear. As you can see, not only do both hamburgers show significant mold growth, but the french fries are growing mold as well. This result goes against some of the predictions made by people here at the Weather Underground office. But, nevertheless the result of the experiment could not be more clear.
Co-workers want the experiment to end. While the mold is contained in a sealed plastic bag and we are exposed to many dangerous toxins in the normal air we breathe everyday, they are freaked out. But, this experiment has gone on long enough to produce a conclusion.
I am not a McDonald's fan. Prior to the purchase of these two McDonald's Happy Meal, I had not stepped foot inside a McDonald's or purchased anything McDonald's product in 10 years. While I would love to see McDonald's change to a more nutritious menu and adopt more environmentally-friendly farm practices, this experiment by Ms. Davies gave their food a bad name for a bad reason. Her experiment was unscientific and was picked up by the media without exploring what the actual cause of the missing mold could be.
The fact is, if hamburgers and their hamburgers buns are allowed to sit out in the open air with somewhat adequate ventilation, they will simply dehydrate. This absence of moisture will prevent mold growth in ANY HAMBURGER.
Likewise, If you contain this moisture in a sealed plastic bag, then you will get mold growth on ANY HAMBURGER.
There is one thing I will let our Weather Underground community investigate. The mold in the two sealed plastic bags are different colors. One is white (normal hamburger) and one is green (McDonald's hamburger). You tell me what it means because I have to get to work getting rid of these hamburgers.