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Oh, 180-day-old Happy Meal, why won’t you rot?

 
Sally Davies, a New York artist and photographer, decided to buy a McDonald’s Happy Meal, set it out on a plate in her apartment, and document its gradual decay. Today, more than six months later, the Happy Meal burger and fries are still sitting there, forlorn and odorless, on the same plate. And as Davies’ numerous photos reveal, they haven’t changed very much at all.
 
In a statement McDonald’s stressed that it uses quality ingredients in its menu items.
 
Davies’ photography project has triggered a media firestorm, garnering coverage around the world and ultimately contributing to a conversation about what we — and our kids — eat. Scientists from multiple universities have weighed in on the indestructible nature of the fast foods on Davies’ plate, noting additional factors that could be contributing to their lack of moisture: high fat content, and plenty of salt (a natural preservative).
 
Davies certainly isn’t the first person to have a little bit of fun at fast food’s expense. Morgan Spurlock documented McDonald’s French fries stubborn unwillingness to decay in the 2004 film “Super Size Me.” And Davies got the idea for her photography project from a woman she read about online.  That woman — a wellness educator and nutrition consultant named Karen Hanrahan — reportedly bought a McDonald’s burger in 1996 and watched, horrified, as it fail to decompose for more than 12 years.  Hanrahan used the intact burger to teach people about the benefits of eating healthful, minimally processed foods.
 
The account of the 12-year-old burger gave Davies such a jolt that she mentioned it to a friend of hers. “My friend said that was crazy, and that I should not believe everything I read online,” Davies recalled. “He believed it would mold or rot within two to three days if left out on the counter.” So, Davies and her friend decided to bet on it. She bought a Happy Meal and brought it home on April 10. Her plan: Photograph the meal daily, send the pictures to her friend and win a bet. She began posting her Happy Meal photos on Facebook and Flickr — and it soon became clear that this was going to be one tedious photography project. So, she started photographing the burger and fries every week or two instead of daily. About four months into the project, the world began to notice. Davies has been stunned by the attention received for her little project to entertain her friends and win a bet.
 
Along the line, some have wondered whether the photos are in fact real. Could it be that this is some kind of a hoax?
 
“All I can say is that this hamburger has been sitting in my living room for over 180 days,” Davies said. “Go buy your own and take it home and put it on your book shelf and call me in a week. You will see that I didn’t make this up.”
 
 
Dr. Iverson's Comment
Some people might say, “So what that the food doesn’t decay?” Well the “so what” is food that does not break down has been altered from its natural state. Preservatives and additives have been added to maintain shelf life and retain its freshness. We are now discovering countless health effects of these chemicals. Here is a clip about preservatives from http://www.buzzle.com/articles/dangers-of-food-additives-and-preservatives.html
Uses of Food Additives and Preservatives:More than 3000 additives and preservatives are available in the market, which are used as antioxidants and anti-microbial agents. Salt and sugar the most commonly used additives. Some of the commonly used food additives and preservatives are aluminum silicate, amino acid compounds, ammonium carbonates, sodium nitrate, propyl gallate, butylated hydrozyttoluene (BHT), butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), monosodium glutamate, white sugar, potassium bromate, potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate, etc. Some artificial colors are also added to the foods to give them an appealing look. These coloring substances are erythrosine (red), cantaxanthin (orange), amaranth (Azoic red), tartrazine (Azoic yellow) and annatto bixine (yellow orange).

Additives are classified as antimicrobial agents, antioxidants, artificial colors, artificial flavors and flavor enhancers, chelating agents and thickening and stabilizing agents. Antimicrobial agents such as salt, vinegar, sorbic acid and calcium propionate are used in the products such as salad dressings, baked goods, margarine, cheese and pickled foods. Antioxidants including vitamin C, E, BHT and BHA are used in the foods containing high fats. Chelating agents such as malic acid, citric acid and tartaric acid are used to prevent the flavor changes, discoloration and rancidity of the foods.

Dangers of Food Additives and Preservatives

Although additives and preservatives are essential for food storage, they can give rise to certain health problems.
They can cause different allergies and conditions such as hyperactivity and Attention Deficit Disorder in the some people who are sensitive to specific chemicals.
 
The foods containing additives can cause asthma, hay fever and certain reactions such as rashes, vomiting, headache, tight chest, hives and worsening of eczema. Some of the known dangers of food additives and preservatives are as follows:
Benzoates can trigger the allergies such as skin rashes and asthma as well as believed to be causing brain damage.
Bromates destroy the nutrients in the foods. It can give rise to nausea and diarrhea.
Butylates are responsible for high blood cholesterol levels as well as impaired liver and kidney function.
Caffeine is a colorant and flavorant that has diuretic, stimulant properties. It can cause nervousness, heart palpitations and occasionally heart defects.
Saccharin causes toxic reactions and allergic response, affecting skin, gastrointestinal tract and heart. It may also cause tumors and bladder cancer.
Red Dye 40 is suspected to cause certain birth defects and possibly cancer.
Mono and di-glycerides can cause birth defects, genetic changes and cancer.
Caramel is a famous flavoring and coloring agent that can cause vitamin B6 deficiencies. It can cause certain genetic defects and even cancer.
Sodium chloride can lead to high blood pressure, kidney failure, stroke and heart attack.
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