Does McDonald's Use Worm Meat Fillers in Its Burgers?

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McDonald's Uses Worm Meat!

McDonald's Users Worm Meat Fillers But Can Legally Call It 100% Beef
Netlore Archive: Satirical article claims McDonald's uses earthworms as "filler" in its hamburgers but can still legally claim to serve "100% beef" because its meat products come from a source called "100% Beef Company".

Description: Fake news / Urban legend
Circulating since: April 2014
Status: False (details below)

Via, April 13, 2014:

McDonald’s Uses Worm Meat Fillers But Can Legally Call It 100% Beef. Large companies have been the subject of rumors that they substitute unusual or unethical substances in their products, usually to decrease costs. McDonald’s is not immune to such claims. McDonald’s has been accused of using everything from worms to cow eyeballs in its burgers. Dating far back to at least 1978, there have been rumors that McDonald’s restaurants use earthworms in their hamburgers.

The fact that McDonald’s uses cow eyeballs and worm fillers does not stop them from legally using the claim that they served 100% beef. McDonald’s has assured its consumers that its product contains 100% beef. They are allowed to do this because McDonald’s buys their “beef” from a company called “100% Beef Company”, making it possible for McDonald’s to call beef byproducts and soy products “100% beef”.

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Analysis: Here's a recipe for bad satire: Take some old fast food urban legends, add a few sentences copied and pasted from a Wikipedia article, post a borrowed image of ground beef mixed with morsels of butter that look like white worms, and garnish with lame jokes. Guaranteed to go viral!

The perpetrator of this unoriginal hoax is a (now defunct) fake news website called Daily Buzz Live. Recent Daily Buzz headlines include: "Dogs Getting High on Medical Marijuana in Colorado Is On the Rise," "Energy Drinks Contain Ingredient Extracted From Bull Urine And Semen," and "Apple Maps Finds Lock [sic] Ness Monster."

Reliable source? Clearly not.

As noted in the above-mentioned Wikipedia article, the "worms as filler" urban legend has been around since the late 1970s. According to folklorist Gary Alan Fine, the earliest version named Wendy's as the burger chain guilty of substituting earthworms for real meat. "However, the target of the stories soon changed to McDonald's, the largest fast food franchiser in America," Fine wrote in Manufacturing Tales: Sex and Money in Contemporary Legends (Univ. of Tennessee Press, 1992). "The frequency of attachment of an urban legend to the largest company or corporation is so common as to be considered a law of urban folklore."

McDonald's has long claimed that it uses "only 100% USDA-inspected beef," and lists its suppliers on its company websites. A supplier called "100% Beef Company" is not among them. In fact, no such company exists. "There are no preservatives, no fillers, no extenders and no so-called 'pink slime' in our beef," McDonald's further states. "The only thing added to our burgers is a bit of salt and pepper during grilling."

As I've pointed out before, worms cost way more than ground beef, anyway. The same goes for beef byproducts like cow eyeballs. Any meat byproducts used in McDonald's burgers would have to be listed as such among the ingredients, per USDA regulations.

Fast food horrors:
The McPus Sandwich
• Taco Bell Meat Rated "Grade D, Not for Human Consumption"
Woman Finds Chicken Head in Box of McDonald's Wings
• Worker Puts HIV+ Blood in Ketchup Dispenser

Sources and further reading:

McDonald’s Uses Worm Meat Fillers But Can Legally Call It 100% Beef
Daily Buzz Live (satire website), 13 April 2014

McDonald's FAQ: Are Your Burgers Made Using Real Beef?
McDonald's website, April 2014

McDonald's Urban Legends
Wikipedia, 12 February 2014

Last updated 04/25/15