McDonald's Happy Meal didn't decompose after six months

Sally Davies, Happy Meal Project It's a little smaller, but the McDonald's Happy Meal New York artist Sally Davies bought six months ago looks pretty much the same as the day she brought it home.

Yes, you read that right. Six months. Yum.

"I thought it would be freaky," Davies told Consumer Ally. So onto a plate went the Happy Meal -- and there it sat. She has chronicled its lack of decay -- not a wisp of mold on the whole meal -- through photos. And the Happy Meal Project was born.

What started out as a bet with a friend to see how long the Happy Meal would last has turned into a fast food experiment that has people talking and cringing. Davies said she doesn't expect the meal to change much now -- the fries have a wooden texture and the burger a plastic-looking sheen. She described the hamburger bun as very dry. "I don't think it's ever going to change," she said. "I have two dogs too that don't want anything to do with it."

Davies is a painter and photographer whose works has been featured in the HBO show "Sex and the City" and Oprah. She said her work is in the collections of Sarah Jessica Parker, Tim Burton, Joel Schumacher, Johnny Depp and Dan Aykroyd among other celebrities.

This hasn't been too happy of a year for that bastion of childhood fast food. The Happy Meal has come under fire from California lawmakers who wanted to make it healthier. First Santa Clara County in April banned toys from any kids' meal -- including the Happy Meal -- that is over certain limits for calories, salt, sugar or fat. San Francisco is considering a similar ban -- that vote could come as early as next Tuesday (Oct. 19). In July, the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection asked the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to investigate the safety of a Happy Meal toy connected with the movie The Last Airbender. And last month, a Happy Meal charity promotion came under fire for the amount of proceeds going to the Ronald McDonald House.

As for Davies and her Happy Meal, she plans to keep it around to see what happens.

"It's on a plate on a shelf in my apartment," she said. "There's no smell, there's no bugs. It's like a little ornament."


McDonald's sent the following statement from one of its managers, Todd R. Bacon, to Consumer Ally on Davies' Happy Meal Project.:

"McDonald's menu items are freshly prepared in our restaurants. It is not possible to provide a detailed explanation regarding these claims without knowing the conditions in which these food items were kept. That said, we strongly caution anyone from jumping to conclusions.

Bacteria and mold only grow under certain conditions. For example, without sufficient moisture – either in the food itself or the environment in which it is held – bacteria and mold and associated decomposition, is unlikely. If food is/or becomes dry enough, it won't grow mold or bacteria. Dehydration is in fact a natural preservation method.

McDonald's hamburger patties in the U.S. are made with 100% USDA-inspected beef. They are cooked and prepared with salt, pepper and nothing else - no preservatives - no fillers. Our hamburger buns are made from North American-grown wheat flour. Our world-famous French fries are made from potatoes and cooked in a canola-oil blend. These are the same foods that consumers buy every day in their local grocery stores -- bread, meat and potatoes.

McDonald's food safety and quality standards are among the highest in the industry. McDonald's sources its ingredients from approved suppliers that adhere to strict standards for food safety and quality, including a controlled, well-maintained and clean environment throughout our entire supply chain. Together with stringent procedures for handling and storage, we work hard to minimize any exposure that would contribute to the presence of mold, bacteria or other microorganisms."

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