Debunking Urban Legends about McDonald’s

Debunking Urban Legends about McDonald’s

If you’re one of the more than 100 billion served at McDonald’s restaurants, you’ve probably heard at least one shocking, but ultimately untrue, rumor about the fast food giant.

In the 1980’s, word began circulating that McDonald’s had implemented an interesting recycling program at its restaurants. The gossip was that employees secretly rifled through the garbage to reclaim still intact food serving packages, which were then reused for subsequent orders. Those “in the know” who ate at McDonalds made sure to crumple their packages to thwart the company’s nefarious money-saving scheme.

This garbage picking anecdote is one of the many outrageous urban legends about McDonalds. Why are the golden arches the subject of such scandalous stories? To start, there’s the ever-present public suspicion of unscrupulous corporations that seek to maximize profits at the expense of quality and safety. And as a high-profile multinational company perceived as spearheading the globalisation movement, McDonald’s is a favorite target of anti-globalists.

Here’s a brief look at some of the tastier McDonald’s myths that have been served up over the years.

Yummy worm burgers. A longstanding rumor in the 1970s and 80s was that McDonald’s used ground worms as filler in its hamburgers. McDonald’s has always maintained that its burgers are 100% beef and has gone to great lengths to prove it, including procuring a letter from the US Secretary of Agriculture backing the claim. Besides, McDonald’s officials are quick to add, worm “meat” costs a lot more than beef, making its use in patties economically unfeasible. A similar tale was circulated in the 1990s. This time the filler ingredient was cow eyeballs, which are actually in high demand for scientific research. Consequently, their use in Big Macs would be even more cost-prohibitive than worms.

What’s in the shakes? It has long been alleged that McDonald’s calls its milkshakes simply “shakes” because there isn’t any milk or dairy products in them. The fact that they can be safely consumed by lactose-intolerant persons, say the myth mongers, proves it.

Among the ingredients that McDonald’s has purportedly substituted for milk over the years are styrofoam balls, pig fat, and the fluid from cow eyeballs, that way nothing is wasted. But according to McDonald’s ingredients list, its shakes do contain milk. Specifically, whole milk and nonfat milk solids.

This may be the weirdest one I have ever heard — near death by bird feathers. One of the most bizarre legends ever conjured up involves an unnamed girl in an unnamed location who had a near-death experience after eating a McFlurry. This is an ice cream concoction with fruit, candy, or cookie bits whipped in. The girl, according to the story, almost died from a violent allergic reaction to bird feathers. Doctors supposedly traced her dietary consumption, leading to the reaction and pinpointed the McFlurry. It seems that they supposedly discovered through someone at McDonald’s headquarters that one of the ingredients in the frozen treat is indeed bird feathers. In all versions of the tale, the girl and her whereabouts are un-named because she doesn’t exist, and the “feather” reference was likely derived from the airy consistency of the product, not the actual mix-ins.

Another McDonald’s falsity perpetrated by email spam, is that McDonald’s apple pies lack one key ingredient, apples. Rumor spreaders in the United States claim that potatoes, pears, and crackers are substituted for apple, while their Australian counterparts offer even more imaginative surrogates, such as ostrich eggs and something called chokos. This is a cucumber-like fruit that costs significantly more to import to Australia than the Granny Smith apples that are actually used in the handheld dessert.

From a health standpoint, what you eat at fast-food chains such as McDonalds should be a concern. But these urban legends show you that an aversion to worm meat, cow eyeballs, or feathers should not be among your greatest concerns.

debunking mcdonalds hoax