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14-Year-Old Hamburger Remains Surprisingly Unchanged

Even with all of the healthy options out there for people on the go who just want something quick and easy, a fast-food hamburger can not only satisfy the appetite, but also be easy on the wallet. But just how easy is it on your digestive tract with all of those preservatives? Simple table salt is a preservative, but the additive butylated hydroxyanisole, or BHA, is commonly used to keep foods from spoiling quickly, too.

Today's story may make you think twice about how many preservatives some common foods contain. Utah resident David Whipple recently sent in a McDonald's hamburger patty to the TV show "The Doctors." Whipple explained that originally he wanted to show his friends how enzymes work, and he thought using a burger would be a good idea. He bought it on July 7, 1999. However, after a month, he had forgotten about it. Fast-forward two years later, and his wife discovered the patty inside a paper bag in one of his coat pockets.

Whipple was surprised to see that the hamburger patty was essentially unchanged. He hung onto it for a long while longer. Now, 14 years after it was first purchased, the hamburger patty still has no mold or fungus on it. In fact, the only thing different about the condition of the hamburger is that the pickle that came inside it has completely disintegrated.

Whipple has even held onto the original receipt as proof of when and where the burger was purchased. He said he uses the burger as a way to encourage his grandchildren to make healthy eating choices.

Whipple is not the first person to document what happens to a McDonald's hamburger patty over time. New York City artist Sally Davies created the Happy Meal Project, in which she posts a new picture every day to her Flickr account of the same burger and fries from a Happy Meal.

In addition, blogger Karen Hanrahan, who writes Best of Mother Earth, did a similar experiment with a McDonald's hamburger. Hanrahan has used the same hamburger for more than 16 years in a class she teaches to parents about why they should keep junk food away from their children.

The Trending Now team reached out to McDonald's regarding the shelf life of its burgers and the number of preservatives used to keep them from spoiling. The following is a statement from the company regarding its hamburger patties:

“McDonald’s hamburgers are freshly prepared in our restaurants. While not knowing the conditions in which the food was kept in this specific claim, what is scientifically known is that in bacteria and mold only grow under certain conditions.

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.

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."

- McDonald’s USA

[Related: 8 Ingredients You Never Want to See on Your Nutrition Label]

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