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Fast Food Hamburgers-what are you really eating?


By: Lisa Costa Bir

This is a very interesting study that analysed the meat content of hamburgers in America, it reminded me of one of Jamie Olivers segments when he toured America and did an expose into what Americans put in their hamburger patties. Note- I am pretty sure regulation is very, very different here in Australia and that the quality of our meat patties is substantially better... However if in doubt, why not make your own hamburgers-they are ever so easy.

Americans consume about 5 billion hamburgers a year. It is presumed that most hamburgers are composed primarily of meat. Eight different brands of hamburgers were evaluated for water content by weight and microscopically for recognizable tissue types. Water content by weight ranged from 37.7% to 62.4% (mean, 49%). Meat content in the hamburgers ranged from 2.1% to 14.8% (median, 12.1%). A variety of tissue types besides skeletal muscle were observed including connective tissue (n = 8), blood vessels (n = 8), peripheral nerve (n = 8), adipose tissue (n = 7), plant material (n = 4), cartilage (n = 3), and bone (n = 2). In 2 hamburgers, intracellular parasites (Sarcocystis) were identified.
So to summarise: Approximately half of the weight of the hamburgers was made up of water. Unexpected tissue types found in some hamburgers included bone, cartilage, and plant material; (thankfully!) no brain tissue was present. Sarcocystis parasites were discovered in 2 hamburgers-yuck!


Ann Diagn Pathol. 2008 Dec;12(6):406-9. Epub 2008 Jul 26.
Fast food hamburgers: what are we really eating?
Prayson B, McMahon JT, Prayson RA.

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