Updated: Mar 20, 2019
All rights reserved © 2012, 2019 Louis Antonio Abate, D.C.
Walking by the neighborhood fast-food burger conglomerate, or seeing their specifically targeted television commercials you are reminded of how they use two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun, even if you haven’t eaten one of their burgers since Madonna was desperately seeking Susan.
It is estimated that the fast-food industry spends 1.6 billion advertising dollars each year, and that most of this money is for targeting children, youth and adolescents. McDonalds spends more money on advertising and marketing than any other brand. As a result it has replaced Coca-Cola as the world’s most famous brand. It seems so inescapable that I decided to research as to what is in the fast-food burger.
The book Fast Food Nation states “The key to a successful franchise, according to many texts on the subject, can be expressed in one word: uniformity. Franchises and chain stores strive to offer exactly the same product or service at numerous locations. Customers are drawn to familiar brands by an instinct to avoid the unknown. A brand offers a feeling of reassurance when its products are always and everywhere the same.
"We have found out . . . that we cannot trust some people who are nonconformists, declared Ray Kroc, one of the founders of McDonald’s, angered by some of his franchisees. We will make conformists out of them in a hurry . . . The organization cannot trust the individual; the individual must trust the organization.”
This is the same organization that has also spent billions of dollars in the meat industry lobby to thwart the government’s efforts to prevent the sale of tainted beef, whether that beef is tainted with E.coli 0157:H7 or some other pathogen.
As Ray Kroc stated customers want uniformity and consistency. Perhaps it is to calm the fear of the unknown, yet in order for fast food to maintain consistency their food is mixed with many chemicals. If you consider their beef patties contain beef blended from hundreds of different cows (most of them worn-out or diseased dairy cows) a chemical profile would be necessary so that beef has the same flavor in New York as it does in Rome, London, Chicago and Sydney.
Artificial strawberry flavor, one of the ‘ingredients’ of a strawberry shake contains over 50 chemicals including solvents to replicate the flavor of a real strawberry.
If you take into account the chemicals used to keep taste consistent and add to it the chemical residue of fertilizers or pesticides, your 100% beef patty is looking more like 100% chemicals. I am reminded of that famous line “where’s the beef?”
As I was researching this article I came across a youtube video about a gentleman who has been collecting McDonalds burgers since the late 1980’s. He purchases the burgers and leaves them in his basement unwrapped. Surprisingly, none of the burgers has molded, rotted, or even collected pests like roaches or maggots. Some say the burgers aren’t rotting because after all these years they are dried out--like food left with Egyptian mummies. Then, I found another video made my Morgan Spurlock, the documentarian who filmed Supersize Me, an amazing insight into what happened to his physical, mental and emotional health after eating only McDonalds menu items for 30 days. Morgan purchased several McDonalds burgers and fries and put them into sealed glass canisters. The burgers did rot, however it took them a minimum of 5 weeks to begin to rot. And what’s interesting is that the bread was the first thing to mold, not the meat. And, even more surprisingly was the french fries neither rotted nor molded. They looked the same 12 weeks later as they did on they day they were purchased. Just imagine how many more chemicals are used to preserve the fries and to give them a consistent taste?
Everyone loves a good, juicy hamburger with fried potatoes on the side, but you’re better off making this at home than to risk putting all those chemicals into your body...unless you like the taste of industrial solvents and dry cleaning fluid. After all, the long-term human effects are not known, so why be the lab rat?
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric Schlosser
Morgan Spurlock’s SuperSize Me