Chinese Netizen’s McDonald’s Happy Meal Rotting Experiment

A Chinese netizen's McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

A Chinese netizen's McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

From Mop:

Does McDoanld’s rot or not? Photos refute American dietitian’s fallacy

According to reports, American dietitian Brousseau performed an experiment with McDonald’s “Happy Meal”, and discovered that a hamburger and french fries purchased in 2009 were completely unchanged one year later.

However, there were also netizens who pointed out some questionable points. For example, for a hamburger left alone for a year, why was there no dust on the surface of a hamburger (maybe America’s air is that good), that dehydrated bread should become stiff and unable to change shape, that the color of the meat should become darker, that it didn’t look like it was real, etc.

After I saw this news, I deduced two interesting/revealing points.

1. This may be a dishonest competitive trick by competitor.

2. There is safety risks with McDonald’s food.

If a hamburger and french fries that has been left for a year does not rot, then that only demonstrates two points: 1. McDonald’s is truly junk food, and it doesn’t contain any nutrients whatsoever that flies, even microbes are unable to get any nutrients. 2. McDonald’s food have large amounts of preservatives (or stabilizing agents). However neither of the two points above are able to be accepted.

Therefore, I purchased a McDonald’s Happy Meal on April 20th, which included a cheeseburger and french fries (to be used for an experiment), a small Coca-Cola (which I gave to Tai Ming to drink), a toy (that I kept for myself to play with).

The experiment begins: With each photo, time will reveal the truth!

Comparison between a 2009 and 2010 McDonald’s hamburger. [comparing Brousseau’s 2009 experiment versus this netizen’s 2010 experiment]

April 20, 5-12 degress, cloudy/overcast day. Day 1 of the experiment, cheeseburger + french fries. Surface of hamburger still has some moisture, fries stiff. The aroma is not bad.

A Chinese netizen's McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

April 21. 5-12 degrees, light rain. Day 2 of the experiment. Surface of hamburger has dried a bit, but still soft, no change in color yet. Aroma unchanged.

Fries have become soft, beginning to absorb moisture in the air, soaking the bag.

Note: The dorm is ventilated, I discovered an insect today, but the hamburger and french fries did not attract any flies.

A Chinese netizen's McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

April 22. 5-14 degrees, Day 3 of the Experiment, light rain then clear skies. Surface of the cheese is still soft, maybe because of the weather, surface is moist. Still No change whatsoever in color. Aroma has become weaker but still not bad smelling.

A McDonald's Cheeseburger Happy Meal with small fries.

After opening, the beef looks very fresh.

McDonald's Happy Meal cheeseburger experiment.

The surface of the french fries covered with water droplets. Already soaking the bag.

McDonald's Happy Meal french fries experiment.

Have to go away on business during the weekend, so two days without photos, will add them later!

April 23, clear, 10-20 degrees. Day 4 of the experiment, the beef inside the cheeseburger. Captivating. The other images were unfortunately lost while away on business.

McDonald's Happy Meal cheeseburger close-up.

April 25, rain, 5-17 degrees. Day 5 of the experiment. No change.

McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

French fries still have great absorbency.

McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

The beef after day 6, no change…

McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

April 26, showers, 4-14 degrees. Day 7 of the experiment. Major breakthrough, there are two spots of mold on the bottom of the hamburger! No change for the beef and french fries. Aroma still unchanged.

McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

And a look at the beef.

McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

April 27, cloudy then clear skies, 5-16 degrees. Day 8 of the experiment. The moldy spots on the underside of the hamburger have enlarged. Mold has appeared on the upper half of the hamburger. Beef and french fries unchanged.

McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

April 28, clear, 5-17 degrees. the two moldy spots underneath the hamburger have continued to increase in size, and there is a new moldy spot. Total of 3 moldy spots. Moldy spot on top has gotten larger, with a new moldy spot, total of two spots. The rest unchanged.

McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

And a look at the side.

McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

April 29, clear, 8-19 degrees. The three mold spots on the bottom of the hamburger have grown, a new mold has appeared on the top, for a total of 3 spots [on top]. Rest unchanged.

McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

April 30, clear, 10-26 degrees Day 11 of the experiment, multiple moldy spots have appeared on both the bottom and top of the hamburger. The affected areas continue to grow. A white colored [bacteria?] colony has appeared on the surface of the beef. French fries have not changed.

McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

April 30, a look from another angle.

McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

From another angle.

McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

May 1, clear, 15-30 degrees. Day 12 of the experiment. The mold on the bottom of the hamburger has increase significantly, french fries unchanged

McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

May 1, a very large portion of the beef’s surface has been covered by the white colony.

McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

May 2, dusty, 16-32 degrees. Day 13 of the experiment. The mold has nearly covered the entire hamburger. The colony on the beef has changed to green color, maybe the same strain as the one on the bread. The aroma has begun to turn sour. French fries unchanged.

McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

May 3, clear then cloudy, 15-27 degrees. Day 14 of the experiment. The entirety of the hamburger has become moldy.

McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

May 3, clear then cloudy, 15-27 degrees. Day 14 of the experiment. The mold on the beef has spread.

McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

May 3, clear then cloudy, 15-27 degrees. Day 14 of the experiment. The french fries are hard, can bear 0.75kg of pressure without breaking, the 2kg dumbbell disc was its end.

McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

May 4, clear, 16-26 degrees. Day 15 of the experiment. Today, the hamburger has become disgusting. There is basically no clean place left on the beef…everyone see the images for yourself… those who are disgusted have my deepest apologies.

Also. Let me say something to everyone.

First: My purpose for doing this experiment is mainly to prepare for a homework/project for a clinical medicine class. This course’s main topic is food safety, so I that’s why I did this. I do not represent any commercial position. Anyone who criticizes me in the future can immediately filter out.

Second: The original article I saw was that the nutritionist/dietitian was located in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. My geography is not good so I am not very familiar [with that place]. He placed the hamburger directly in a room. And it did not attract flies. Mine did not attract flies either. As for humidity, indeed Beijing rained for several days before the experiment began, and there was rather high humidity. It may have something to do with something called “water activity”. This is not something I do/am familiar with, so I did not get to the bottom of it.

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Third: I have not used my hand to directly touch the hamburger before (too disgusting). Every time, I handle it with a plastic bag. This is how I dealt with the germs on my hands. Actually, in the air exist various different kinds of germs, its just that only in places conducive for germs will they breed. So, the germs on hands factor should be very small.

I welcome rational people to share their thoughts. More photographs posted below…”

McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

And a look at the beef.

McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

May 5, cloudy then clear, 14-25 degrees. Day 16 of the experiment. Mold continues to grow.

McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

May 5, cloudy then clear, 14-25 degrees. Day 16 of the experiment. The wrapper for the hamburger has a large amount of moisture/water droplets, cause uncertain, if anyone knows, please share the real reason…the rest unchanged.

McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

May 6, clear, 14-27 degrees. Day 17 of the experiment. No obvious change.

Also, I plan on soon going to the Beijing City Health Quarantine station to do some tests on this hamburger and french fries, and hope to uncover even deeper things. Again, several questions to ask of everyone.”

One, today I called the quarantine station, and they said they probably are not open to individuals, as I am a student. What should I do?

Two, if things go smoothly and I can test, what should I test for?

Thank you, everyone!

McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

May 7, dusty, 14-27 degrees. Day 18 of the experiment. Fries have no noticeable change on the exterior.

McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

May 8, cloudy, 15-28 degrees. Day 19 of the experiment. The hamburger has basically completely rotted, the texture has become soft, and is absorbing a lot of moisture. The hamburger wrapper has at least 5 ml of liquid.

I just saw a netizen leave a comment on Science Squirrel Community [another forum]. He said that when he was working at McDonald’s, he saw that oil McDonald’s uses is all palm oil. If this is true, then it I am even more certain that the french fries won’t go bad. I remember when taking nutrition class reading a document on using various saturated fatty acids, that amongst them, palm oil had the highest saturated fatty acid content [not sure if these scientific terms are translated correctly]. And currently, many of the instant noodles on the market are fried with palm oil. The shelf life of food products that have been fried in palm oil can be extended y 1-2 years…my god…I need to keep these french fries in my dorm for 2 years…

McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

Pried apart to look inside.

McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

May 9, cloudy then clear, 11-22 degrees. Day 20 of the experiment. The hamburger is completely rotten, while the french fries are not the least bit.

McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

May 10, clear, 12-23 degrees. Day 21 of the experiment. Basically no change with the hamburger and french fries. Also, recently I clearly feel that after opening the hamburger, the exposed skin on my body becomes very itchy. I’m not sure what is the cause. Either way, now after I take photos, I must use Welch [a brand of soap] to wipe the table. To avoid having to open the wrapper/packaging every day (actually, it is already rotten) and releasing large quantities of bacteria into the air, today I have already switched the hamburger into a clear plastic bag, but don’t worry, everyone, I have not sealed the opening, so it isn’t airtight [or lack oxygen].

Begging the professionals: What is the most likely type/strain of bacteria/fungus/germ of this green fuzz? Penicillin or aflatoxin or something else [not sure about translations here]? How harmful to human health? Because I know aflatoxin’s is pretty carcinogenic.

I asked about professionally determining the species today, and the estimated money required was four digits, so I dropped the idea.

McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

May 11, clear, 12-25 degrees, Day 22 of the experiment.

As a result of my body always feeling very itchy after opening the hamburger wrapper, and afraid that the threat to human heath is too big, yesterday I put the “hamburger” inside a clear plastic bag (without sealing it shut) planning to observe through the plastic bag. At the time, the plastic bag was very clear, but today…

Note: The yellow part is the bread on the top of the hamburger. Previously the completely green part was the bottom. As a result of lifting it up a few days ago but not wanting to flip the hamburger over, I did not photograph the top of the bun. Although the top part looks more yellow than the bottom part, it has already completely gone bad. It is not like bread anymore. Also, today has yielded this much liquid on the hamburger. I completely agree with what netizens have observed: The water produced from the process of breaking down of sugar.

Recently many people have been leaving comments, amongst them many very reasonable, that whether food rots or doesn’t rot has a lot to do with moisture and humidity, that food not eroded by micro-organisms is arbitrarily because of added preservatives, is not correct. I agree.

McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

Yesterday someone said the french fry hanging a dumbbell was PS‘d, so today I selected another french fry to take photos. What is shocking is, a miracle happened…”

McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

A temporary simple set-up, made of simple things, using a stack of books to hold down two chopsticks.

McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

0.75kg is definitely kid’s stuff, today it broke 2kg…

McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

In the end, even 2.5kg was no problem…

McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

What it is hanging is not a dumbbell, but loneliness.

In the end, that french fry was able to hold firm, and I was moved by the french fry’s unwavering determination, so I did not continue tormenting it, so it can live out its old age…

McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

May 12, clear, 12-27 degrees, day 23 of the experiment, no change.

One netizen’s suggestion I approved very much of, here appealing to people everywhere in the country to join me in perfoming experiments, to see the changes of a hamburger in different environments.

As for the control group, a control group for the hamburger’s is too difficult to do. The control group must be a controlled variable, and I do not know the hamburger’s formulation and production process. Therefore, I can’t even control this variable. Actually, it is enough that everyone enjoying the photos for this small experiment is enough. Whether the hamburger rots or doesn’t rot doesn’t actually demonstrate any specific problem.

McDonald's Happy Meal experiment.

Comments from Mop:

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Those who will eat, will still eat. Those who will drink will still drink.
There has never been a shortage of negative news about such Western fast food.
But their business is still very good.
[Demonstrating that] the people of the Heavenly Kingdom cannot be changed.


Lanzhou awesome guy~~ [LZ is an awesome guy]


It appears that french fries, after going through special processing, can become a type of completely new construction material.


The mighty french fry is testing the LZ‘s enduranceso strong, just too thin…


I don’t have a McDonald’s near me, so if you have time, test what KFC’s food is like!


Lou zhu’s experimental mentality is worthy of people’s admiration.


Ding, if you say KFC has problems, I would believe it, but if you say McDonald’s has problems, I wouldn’t believe it.


In rare situations, I would still eat [McDonald’s or fast food]~ Actually, domestic food is not clean either. It’s probably better to eat at home as much as possible.


I salute the great french fry.


Fuck! Godly post! No matter what, I too am a seasoned lurker~ but seeing this post, wow, I can only ding~


Lou zhu is so clever/has ideas/creative…Judging by those books holding down the chopsticks in your pictures above…
I can tell we did not study the same thing. [I] simply would have never thought of doing this kind of experiment…


That Mr. Brousseau may be working for KFC or Burger King.


Yikes, I never liked junk food. With you showing this, I no longer have the courage to even go eat it with my wife!”

Great and mighty french fries. chinaSMACK personals.

Written by Fauna

Fauna is a mysterious young Shanghainese girl who lives in the only place a Shanghainese person would ever want to live: Shanghai. In mid-2008, she started chinaSMACK to combine her hobby of browsing Chinese internet forums with her goal of improving her English. Through her tireless translation of popular Chinese internet news and phenomenon, her English has apparently gotten dramatically better. At least, reading and writing-wise. Unfortunately, she's still not confident enough to have written this bio, about herself, by herself.

  • BeefHead

    One McJiaoZi and 1 portion of McMiFan please.

  • slimboyinhk

    Do not stop there….you need to continue the experiment and eat the burger. Report what happens by taking pictures every 5 minutes.

  • bb

    he could have watched the special features on the dvd “Super Size Me” and seen basically the exact same experiment and same results.

    Haven’t eaten McD’s or KFC since 2006. Change your diet and your body will thank you.

    That all said, I still own stock in YUM and MCD. Watching the fast food addiction spread through eastern China made them no-brainer investments.

  • Shanghairocks

    LouZhu, what you are experimenting on is not McDonald’s cheeseburger, but loneliness…

    • Very creative. The louzhu said, literally, the exact same thing in his post.

  • fireworks

    What a legend to play with his food.

    Fast food is fast food, you got it quick. Not play with it and see yeast/fungus grow.

  • Wastemans

    Even Chinese Mcdonalds are of second quality. See how they fester and decay….tsss..

  • 2.5kg after 23 days. Who says French are surrender monkeys?

  • bai ren

    Love the whole skin irritation aspect. This is a true public intellectual. Not part of the establishment at all. But kind of a poe piece, half expecting a detailed report on how fungle spores have made him ill. All in the name of nutrition sciences…

    Rome was always only 3 missed meals away from a revolution. That is part of government legitimacy was in providing food for the people. Consumerism does this great. Good thing billion plus countries adopt consumerist based economic practices. And Mc Yucks is good for an occational meal, just dont habituate it ;)

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  • Brother River Crab

    The lesson I have learned is that I have 5 days, 6 tops – if I were to purchase McDonald’s food to “coerce” whores into taking nude photos.

    • whats a little change between brothers
      this 无毛 is from me

  • 练练英语

    A boring test.It proves nothing but you have much spare time.If the experimental object is a mantou(Chinese bread),I do not think the author would have a different result.

  • pangolin

    I can’t in good faith enjoy this without being sure that LZ didn’t contract a fatal disease shortly after posting.

  • elenore

    Fries have too much salt,salt is a preservative and extracts moisture.Me and my siblings were cleaning out garage once when younger,we found a petrified Kielbasa.

  • C

    I don’t get it. If you leave any food out for days and days in room temperature, it’s going to turn bad (moldy etc). That doesn’t mean that there are “safety risks”…excluding the grease, fat and other stuff that comes obviously with mccdonald’s.

  • This is a good experiment. Keep it up!

  • BloodDeathandGlory

    If this guy is in medical school, or doing some sort of medical profession he went about his expirement in the correct manner. I do think that perhapss he should have done more research before starting this that way he could perhaps show the difference in breakdown rates between US and Chinese McDonalds products. As 90% of all products and ingrediants in Chinese McDonalds come from China. But still, he did it in an informed way, but I wonder what his roommate thought of the smell.

  • johnee

    Do you know how the cow and chicken are raised. NPR shows cows and chicken fattened on confined feed lot stand on their own manure. Disgusting to eat.

  • Alex

    I am from the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. It’s one of the big square states in the middle. It is indeed very dry there, and compared to the climate of Bejing, it takes things much longer to mold over.

    The bread would have gotten hard and crusty before the mold would set in. I think that for bread products it usually takes about 10 days before things start to mold. The hamburger bun might last longer.

  • lolz

    Say what you want but McDonalds fries are the best out of all the fast food joints.

  • Name (required)

    I bet the next post on ChinaSmack is about that milk tea girl.

  • 雅美

    Well put experiment.
    The high humidity of Beijing seems to contribute well to the rotting of the McDonald’s hamburger! Colorado has a very dry climate compared to Beijing, so it is reasonable to observe that the lack of humidity in Colorado allows the hamburger to stay intact without having the growth of extremely erosive microbes.
    But even without this experiment, most of us know that McDonalds is very disgusting.

  • I don’t care what any of you say, whenever I stopped in Shanghai I just had to have some Burger King. The Real Stry is : Why is BK in China better than back home? HMMM?!!

    • Zhegezhege

      ImmortalTechnique, this is very similar to something I like to bemuse my laowai friends with. Not sure I agree with you about BK (or Maidanglao) but KFC, a guilty pleasure of mine, is a lot better in China than in Laowailand, and this is for the following very rational reasons.

      Working at KFC/BK/McD in China is actually considered a good job by a lot of the country – in that it’s better than a sweatshop in Guangdong and that the company will at least want people to think your human rights are protected.
      Working at these fine establishments in the West is a job for stoners and schoolkids (and stoned schoolkids) who consider their job to be a joke and wouldn’t really care if they got fired.
      In short, the fact that the Chinese take the job more seriously means that they do a better job in producing that delicious gift of Colonel Sanders.

      …even if they did completely fuck up popcorn chicken.

  • KeninChina

    Safer than chinese milk~
    these bored individuals should run tests on domestic products and maybe even save some lives. haha

  • it really all has to do with moisture. If you let the thing sit in an air-conditioned room it probably won’t melt, but a Chinese apartment with open windows and high humidity will make anything grow mold.

  • Mike Fish

    Woulda been better to compare it to other rotting food, or at least other rotting fast food burger type stuff. He could have got a KFC chicken sandwich, an A&W hotdog, and some other junk and seen which rots fastest. Or compare it to an organic or homemade burger and fries.

  • This is a great story. It Super-Sized my funny bone.

  • WW

    Have you been keeping this thing indoors? The green fungi is probably Penicillium or Aspergillus or maybe both. Neither of these two should not occure in the indoor enviroment, as they can cause health problems. I understand you have experienced a few of them already, like the itching you wrote about. What’s potentially far worse is the effects these things have when you get them in large quantities inside your lungs. Better dispose the thing if you still have it.

  • HaWu

    It’s all about moisture.

  • Pingback: McDonald’s, also known as the “Get-Out-Of-China-Free-Card” : PassageMaker China()

  • Weijun

    This seem to be inspired by the stinkymeat project from ten years ago ( At the time, I remember thinking how creative and innovative it was to make this sort of a website. It is hard to remember what it was like before you just assumed that everything was on the Internet.

  • Steven

    Dude don’t throw that away, sell it on ebay! Or better yet, sell it to Chinese restaurants in the UK, it’s far better quality than what they currently use in their food anyway.

  • Mango

    You must account for humidity (water loss) in your experiment. If you find a long dead mouse in a trap, it will probably be mummified. But a rat will rot and raise a stink as it decomposes. The rat is not necessarily any less healthy than the mouse at the time of death — The mouse does not decompose because it dries inside and out prior to the rotting stage.

  • Alex

    Well, we in Holland are stunned as well. Great documentation!

  • haha
  • Thomas

    Oh my god…That is discusting. My mom is a NURSE. She said, That must be LOADED WITH PRESERVITIVES! I choose Burder King over this crap!