Food and Nutrition

Even Flies Won't Touch a McDonald's Happy Meal

| by Environmental Working Group

A Denver grandmother of eight, who happens to be a trained nutritionist, decided to see for herself just how effective the preservatives used in large segments of the U.S. food system actually are.

She left an untouched McDonald's Happy Meal on a shelf in her kitchen for 12 months and has just released photos of the result. As some might expect, the year-old meal of beef, bun and French fries looks hardly different a year after it was first purchased. Hollywood note: Those of you looking to dial back the years may want look into this a little more.

Even the flies didn't want it
The most revealing and somewhat scary part of this experiment was that she said the left-out food didn't attract a single fly or any other insect over the entire year. Flies swarm almost anything with an odor. They turn out in droves to hover over a dog pile but apparently had no interest in the kids' meal.

"I had the windows open many times, but flies and other insects just ignored the Happy Meal," said Joann Burso. "What does that tell you, if they can't be bothered with it?" She conceded to the website Mail Online that the arid climate where she lives in Colorado might have something to do with the Happy Meal's long "shelf life," but still...

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A closer look inside that Happy Meal
So, what exactly is in the preservatives that make the Happy Meal the Dean Clark of fast food? Let's take a look.

The bun:
High fructose corn syrup - of course.
Sugar
Soybean oil
Calcium sulphate
Calcium carbonate
Wheat gluten
Ammonium sulphate
Ammonium chloride
Dough conditioners (whatever those are)
Stearoyl lactylate
Datem (again, no idea)
Ascorbic acid
Stearoyl lactylate
Azodicarbonamide
Mono- and diglycerides (not even going to try)
Ethoxylated monoglycerides
Monocalcium phosphate
Enzymes
Guar gum
Calcium peroxide
Calcium propionate and sodium propionate
Soy lecithin

The fries:
Hydrogenated soybean oil
Natural beef flavor (Don't ask)
Citric acid
Dextrose
Sodium acid pyrophosphate (to maintain color)
Dimethylpolysiloxane (added as an anti-foaming agent)

The "beef":
Supposedly 100 percent beef. Of course, it's undoubtedly not grass-fed beef, so much of it is actually corn. Almost half the corn grown in the United States goes to feeding cows and chickens.

I don't know about you, but I think I'll grab something with fewer than 29 ingredients for lunch today.