Worm meat burger? Understand the story behind the urban legend
“McDonald’s hamburgers are made from worm meat.” Who hasn’t heard this rumor? This is one of the oldest urban legends surrounding the brand and has been debunked several times by Paulo Camargo, president of the Brazil Division of Arcos Dorados, the parent company of McDonad’s in Brazil.
In an interview with the program “Portas Abertas”, he says that he invites customers to visit fast food kitchens to demystify this type of story.
“Visitors have the chance to touch the products, obviously after a hand hygiene process, and have the opportunity to see that tomato is tomato, lettuce is lettuce. We let him participate in this process, and the first certainty he has is that there are no worms in the meat. The meat is 100% beef”, said the executive.
A year before this interview, he himself accompanied a visit by journalists to one of the chain’s restaurants in São Paulo and once again declared: “The hamburger is 0% earthworm, 100% meat.”
But where did this rumor come from?
To this day, the brand does not know how the case was born or who was responsible for spreading the story of worm meat. For brand representatives, the idea is so absurd that it has become a joke.
In an interview given to Folha, José Renato Bellenzani, then director of operations at Braslo (McDonald’s meat processor), said that the idea may have come from the format in which the meat is when it comes out of the grinding machine. Reminds me of an earthworm.
According to the fast-food chain, the only ingredients present in beef hamburgers are meat, salt and pepper. These seasonings are only added in restaurants after the hamburger is fried.
The cuts of meat used come from the front parts and ribs of the ox.
It is in the “Food Town”, at km 17.5 of the Anhanguera highway, in Osasco (São Paulo), that tons of beef used by the brand are processed.
The meat, from slaughterhouses in Mato Grosso, Goiás and Mato Grosso do Sul, in addition to being used in Brazilian franchises, is also exported to Colombia and Paraguay.
And the rumors don’t stop there.
Are nuggets made of pink goo? This is another rumor, not as famous as worm meat, but circulating about the brand’s products.
According to McDonald’s, there is no goo in the making of the chicken nuggets and burgers. Just chicken breast, thighs and drumsticks.
What happens is that these meats are ground and form a mass, used to give the rounded shape of the food. Then they get a coating of wheat flour, corn flour, celery and spices to acquire a crispy crust.
The product is pre-fried and cooked, then goes to the freezer and then goes to the packaging line. When they get to the restaurants, they go to the fryer.
Chicken meat is supplied to McDonald’s by five slaughterhouses in Rio Grande do Sul, Paraná and Santa Catarina.
Picanha without picanha
A recently discovered fact has brought distrust again to the brand. On April 27, the company admitted that the meat used in the new sandwiches of the McPicanha line does not have picanha in the composition.
“The launches bring the novelty of the exclusive picanha-flavored sauce (with a natural flavor of picanha), a new presentation and a different hamburger in composition and size (100% beef, produced with a blend of selected cuts and in the largest size offered by chain currently),” McDonald’s said in a statement.
Two days after the announcement, picanha snacks disappeared from digital menus and restaurants.