Food science

Some people don’t like McDonalds. To support their agenda, they often claim that science shows there is something unnatural about the burgers and fries. Consider this video:

Of course, there is nothing scientific about the video. All you have are a set of observations across time. And yes, while the food does not decay, there is no reason to think these observations mandate the belief that there is something wrong or unnatural about the food. What’s more, it is not going to help to come up with some mathematical analysis that argues it is extremely unlikely for the food to resist decay, therefore something unnatural is happening.

If you want to make a scientific case against McDonalds, then you need to go beyond the realm of observation and speculation. You need to come up with specific hypotheses and then test them with experiments. That is, you would need to consider a range of possible explanations for the food not decaying and then test each explanation. And the experiment is key, because you need to design the experiment to include both positive and negative controls. This is the only way to eliminate confirmation and disconfirmation bias.

Now, if you want to see how a much more scientific approach is used to address this little controversy, check out The Burger Lab: Revisiting the Myth of The 12-Year Old McDonald’s Burger That Just Won’t Rot (Testing Results!)

By doing a proper experiment, we find there is a perfectly natural explanation for this phenomenon. While you’re reading that, I’m off to pick up a Big Mac and Fries.

One response to “Food science

  1. There was a time- back in the 70s- when I ate McDonalds’ food just about every day. Heck I once had 32 regular hamburgers at one sitting. Big macs and 1/4 pounders with extra cheese were my staples of choice. I ate there so much my family was going to buy its stock.

    And then in August of 79 I became a vegetarian. And when I heard the claims of Mcs using soybean filler I thought that was a good thing.

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