Half-life of a Happy Meal?

By Nesita Kwan
|  Wednesday, Sep 29, 2010  |  Updated 6:33 PM CDT
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Photos: The Indestructible Happy Meal Project

Sally Davies

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Before you take your next bite of that McDonalds burger and fries you might want to take a look at these photos. 

It would appear that Oak Brook-based McDonalds makes an indestructible product.

New York artist Sally Davies wondered what would happen if she simply left a burger and fries on a shelf for six months. So she did  exactly that with a McDonald's Happy Meal.

Davies checked on the food roughly every three days and took a picture each time. Judging from her images, Day One and Day 137 aren't that different.  Wonder if she did a taste test?

So what is it that preserves this children's meal from the Golden Arches, you might ask.

Food scientists say it's two things: fat, and salt.

The more fat a product contains the less moisture it absorbs, and the less likely the food is to decay because elements like mold have trouble growing. Fifty percent of the calories in McDonald's burgers and fries come from fat.

Salt also prohibits moisture, and the Happy Meal has plenty to spare. One Mickey D's happy meal provides around half the daily recommended intake of sodium for an adult.

In a statement, a spokesman for McDonald's of Canada said its food is "freshly prepared and assembed ... for direct consumption."

    "While the variables with regard to factors such as temperature, moisture and exposure to light are endless, it is possible that food items kept under particular conditions will not show any sign of decay or rot over a long period of time.

    This natural process is not unique to McDonald’s food.

Another McDonald's spokesperson, quoting a doctor from the University of Georgia, said "no hamburger or fry would look like this months after purchase unless it was tampered with or held frozen."

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