Does McDonald’s Food Go Bad

In this brief article, we will be discussing: does McDonald’s food go bad? We’ll also tell you how to store different food items on the menu and for how long, and the signs to look out for to avoid consuming rotten food. 

Does McDonald’s Food Go Bad?

Given the right circumstances, McDonald’s fries, burgers, and other menu items can go bad and decompose. 

However, McDonald’s food items often don’t seem to decompose. 

The first reason is that their food is particularly dry. For food to go bad, one of the most important factors is moisture which promotes the growth of mold and various microorganisms. 

So without adequate moisture – in the food and in the environment – food is unlikely to go bad.

Secondly, the recipes are loaded with preservatives which essentially enhance the shelf-life of their food and do not let it rot. Fast food meals contain high amounts of salt, because salt is a flavor booster and salt increases significantly the shelf life of food. In a study, the most popular combination at McDonald’s was a Big Mac, medium French Fries and medium regular soda, would provide 68% of the total calories, 89% of the total fat, and 57% of the sodium recommended daily for a diet based on 2,000 calories (1). 


Why Doesn’t Mold Grow on McDonald’s Fries?

 Frying is one of the oldest food processing methods and has a preserving action caused by thermal destruction of microorganisms, enzymes, and reduction of water activity on the surface of the food (2). McDonald’s french fries are drenched in hydrogenated oil that contains saturated fat. As the fries cool, the saturated fat hardens and seals off moisture. And without moisture, the growth of mold is not supported. 

Moreover, saturated fat also enhances shelf-life and helps maintain flavor.


How Long Does It Take for a McDonald’s Burger To Go Bad?

During storage, the quality of these foods mainly depends on the deterioration of the absorbed oil, which continues under storage. This deterioration is accompanied by the formation of offodors and products that may cause some health problems. The oils undergo oxidative and hydrolytic alteration under storage (2). How long a burger will last depends largely on its ingredients and storing conditions.

A burger featuring perishable ingredients such as tomato, mayonnaise, and lettuce might take about two to three days before it starts tasting or smelling spoiled. 

However, a burger could still make you sick long before it starts to taste or smell spoiled, so it’s better not to leave leftovers lying around for a long time. 

If it is stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, it might last a bit longer. According to the US Department of Agriculture, it is not recommended to store meat leftovers for more than 3 days.


Can You Freeze McDonald’s Burgers and Fries?

Yes, McDonald’s burgers and fries can be frozen for as long as 34 months for the burger and 4 months for the fries, if placed in an airtight container and wrapped tightly in cling film or aluminum foil, according to the US Department of Agriculture. 

However, the salad and dressing of beef burgers and chicken burgers need to be removed before placing them in the freezer.


Can you Freeze and Reheat Chicken Mcnuggets?

Yes, you can freeze McDonald’s chicken Mcnuggets. It is recommended that you flash freeze them to preserve their texture, flavor, and consistency. According to the US Department of Agriculture, chicken nuggets can be stored for up to 3 months in the freezer.

Also, nuggets loosely tossed into a freezer bag tend to become extremely soggy, so it is advised that you heat the leftovers in an oven preheated at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about ten minutes rather than heating them in a microwave.

How Long Can You Store a Big Mac?

The US Department of Agriculture recommends storing meat leftovers for not more than 3 days, but due to the higher salt amount of fast food products, they can last longer. For health reasons, it is advised to store a Big Mac in the fridge for only 4 days. Above that, expect the burger will be somewhat spoiled.

However, the preservatives used in the recipes enable the food items to last for a week or so, especially when kept refrigerated.

Nevertheless, the ideal way to store leftovers is to wrap the Macdonald cover-up in aluminum foil or cling film and place it in the refrigerator.  

How Long Can You Store a McChicken Sandwich?

A McChicken sandwich can stay fresh for about two days if stored in the fridge. Longer than that, and the quality and taste will deteriorate rapidly

On the other hand, a frozen McChicken sandwich can last in the freezer for as long as four months, if you have stored them in an airtight container and ideally wrapped the sandwich in cling film or aluminum foil. 


How Long Can You Store Mcnuggets?

If properly stored, chicken Mcnuggets will last in the refrigerator for at least two days.

For health safety and maintenance of quality, cooked chicken nuggets should be refrigerated in shallow airtight containers or wrapped tightly in heavy-duty aluminum foil or cling wrap. However, there will be a reduction of crispness during storage due to absorption of moisture and also fat oxidation (2).

How Do You Reheat a Mcdonald’s Burger?

Ideally, reheat a McDonald’s burger in the oven. Simply preheat it to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, remove the toppings, and heat the bun and burger for a few minutes till adequately heated.

Give the topping a run separately in the microwave. 

How Can You Tell If McDonald’s Leftovers Have Gone Bad?

There are 3 ways to tell if food has gone past its edible date: 

  • Foul or pungent odor
  • Change in texture (slimy, watery)
  • Growth on the surface (white moldy spots, green fungi)
  • Change in color (greenish, yellowish, blackish)

What Happens If You Eat Food That Has Gone Bad?

Food poisoning, or foodborne illness, is the result of eating spoiled food contaminated with infectious microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites, or the toxins they produce. According to the US Department of Agriculture, 48 million foodborne illnesses and 3,000 deaths each year in the United States and the main bacteria related to these illness are Campylobacter jejuni, Clostridium botulinum, Clostridium perfringens, Cryptosporidium Escherichia coli O157:H7 Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella (over 2300 types), Shigella (over 30 types), Staphylococcus aureus and Vibrio vulnificus.

Symptoms of foodborne poisoning include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting


In this brief article, we discussed: does McDonald’s food go bad, as well as how to store different food items on the menu and for how long, and the signs to look out for to avoid consuming rotten food. 

If you have any more questions or comments please let us know. 


  1.  K Garber, Andrea, and Robert H Lustig. Is fast food addictive?. Curr drug abuse rev, 2011, 4, 146-162.
  2. Oke, E. K., et al. Frying of food: a critical review. J Culin Sci Technol, 2018, 16, 107-127.

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.