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I went to a McDonald’s meat-processing factory to see how their hamburgers are really made

  • McDonald’s attracts plenty of customers but many express concern over its burgers’ ingredients. 
  • I took a tour of a McDonald’s factory in Germany to find out how their burgers are really made.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Nowadays, it seems we’re getting more and more critical when it comes to ingredients. From organic ingredients and excess sugar to “E numbers” (or food additives) and salt, the list of contents to worry about seems to be growing exponentially.

McDonald’s attracts plenty of customers — it said in its operations manual years ago that it sold 75 hamburgers a second — but the fast-food giant is by no means off the hook when it comes to this sort of scrutiny.

In 1999, a man named David Whipple started an experiment to see how many preservatives there were in a McDonald’s burger. In 2013, he showed the world his burger 14 years after putting it in a kitchen cupboard — and it still looked almost exactly the same.

But Keith Warriner, the program director at the University of Guelph’s Department of Food Science, said McDonald’s hamburgers’ not rotting had little to do with preservatives.

“The reality is that McDonald’s hamburgers, french fries, and chicken are like all foods and do rot if kept under certain conditions,” he said. “Essentially, the microbes that cause rotting are a lot like ourselves, in that they need water, nutrients, warmth, and time to grow. If we take one or more of these elements away, then microbes cannot grow or spoil food.”

Many are still fixated on the notion that a McDonald’s burger is pumped full of preservatives.

To see how the burgers are made, Insider toured a McDonald’s factory in Günzburg, Germany, where an average of five million burgers, from the Big Mac to the Quarter Pounder, are produced every day.

This is how they’re made.

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