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 long it takes for different food items to go bad, and the signs to look out for to avoid consuming rotten food. 

Does McDonald’s Food Go Bad?

Yes, McDonald’s fries, burgers, and other menu items can go bad and decompose like any other food product. 

Lipid oxidation is the most common form of deterioration of meat foods and fried foods, significantly affecting their sensory and nutritional properties and limiting their shelf life. Lipid oxidation can be accelerated by factors such as exposure to oxygen, high temperatures and enzyme catalysts such as metal ions (4). 

Furthermore, food spoilage can be caused by the effect of microorganisms. As a result, the food undergoes changes in its sensory characteristics such as taste, odor, color and texture.

Does McDonald’s Food take longer to go bad?

Yes, McDonalds food takes longer to go bad as compared to homemade food. Because of the high amount of salt and other additives, fast foods such as from McDonalds, have an increased shelf life as compared to homemade foods. Salt acts as a preservative, inhibiting the growth of yeasts, bacteria, and molds in foods (6).

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).

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

It takes more than 4 days for a McDonalds burger to go bad (3). 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. According to the US Department of Agriculture, it is not recommended to store meat leftovers for more than 4 days.

A burger featuring perishable ingredients such as tomato, mayonnaise, and lettuce, may have decreased shelf life, because, although leafy vegetables rely on good agricultural and good manufacturing practice, washing steps, and cold storage to minimize microbial risks, they may signify a risk to contamination by several opportunistic pathogens (5).

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 3-4 days if stored in the fridge (3). 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 3-4 days (3).

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

To tell if McDonald’s food has gone bad, it is necessary to be aware of possible signs of deterioration. These signs are: 

  • Formation of off-odors and off-flavors
  • Changes in texture (slimy, watery)
  • Growth on the surface (white moldy spots, green fungi)
  • Changes in color (greenish, yellowish, blackish)

Does Mold Grow on McDonald’s Fries?

Yes, mold grows on McDonald’s fries. However, this will not happen as fast as it does in non-fried foods. 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 and other foods that go through deep oil frying processes contain oxidized fatty acids and other compounds that are generated during frying at high temperatures. These compounds, including polymerized triglycerides and polar compounds limit the growth of microorganisms and molds (7).

What Happens If You Eat McDonald’s Food That Has Gone Bad?

When you eat McDonald’s Food that has gone bad, it is possible that you experience symptoms of food poisoning. 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.
  3. Leftovers and Food Safety. United States Department of Agriculture. 
  4. Elsebaie, Essam Mohamed, et al. Effects of Faba Bean Hull Nanoparticles on Physical Properties, Protein and Lipid Oxidation, Colour Degradation, and Microbiological Stability of Burgers under Refrigerated Storage. Antioxidants, 2022, 11, 938.  
  5. Söderqvist, Karin, et al. Fate of Listeria monocytogenes, pathogenic Yersinia enterocolitica, and Escherichia coli O157: H7 gfp+ in ready-to-eat salad during cold storage: what is the risk to consumers?. J food protect, 2017, 80, 204-212.  
  6. Awuchi, Chinaza Godswill, et al. Food additives and food preservatives for domestic and industrial food applications. J Anim Health, 2020, 2, 1-16.  
  7. Leeuw, Ntsoaki Joyce. The influence of oxidized oils on fungal growth and lipid utilization. Diss. University of the Free State, 2010.