A TikTok of a pantry full of two-year-old junk food has gotten over 3 million views.
In the video, Elif Kandemir explains that her mother keeps the food to see whether it will “go off.”
A debate has since sparked about whether a lack of mold means the food is unhealthy.
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A video tour of a pantry filled with two-year-old junk food, including Domino’s pizza and McDonald’s burgers, has gone viral on TikTok.
Elif Kandemir, who goes by @elifgkandemir on TikTok, has over 7,000 followers. But on July 13, her account caught the attention of millions when she posted about her mother’s long-running experiment to test whether fast food actually rots.
Her video has gotten 3.7 million views and stirred up debate on whether the lack of mold is evidence of how unhealthy the food is.
In her TikTok Elif, who is from the UK, explains that her mother Leyla is a nutritionist “helping to tackle obesity.” She describes the food kept in the cupboard as “ultra-processed” and said it’s what “80% of the UK consume on a regular basis.”
Speaking to Insider, Leyla, also a trained psychotherapist, said she began storing fast food after discovering a half-eaten pizza her son and his girlfriend ordered in 2019. She was in her second year of university doing “a lot of work on trans fats, ultra-processed foods, and fast foods.”
When she saw the pizza, she thought, “Let’s just see if what I’m studying is real.”
“I put them in a cupboard and a month later I went back to look at the food, which had meat on it, sausages, and all different sorts of things and nothing had gone off,” she said. Since then, her experiment has snowballed and now the pantry is filled with everything from old McDonald’s fries to sausage rolls and doughnuts, which Leyla uses for her dietary counseling.
However, some people who have come across Elif’s video have questioned Leyla’s theory. In a follow-up TikTok posted on July 14, Elif addressed a comment left by someone saying all food is fine in moderation.
“Though it is true you can have anything and everything in moderation, 80% of a person’s diet should not be made up of these foods. My mom is simply trying to encourage people to make better food decisions and live a happier, healthier lifestyle,” she concluded.
Dr. Wendy Bazilian, a registered dietitian, told Insider that the lack of mold on the junk food could be down to a lack of water present. She also said that the video has likely stirred up controversy because food is “so personal.”
“Likely many people feel like this solidifies or champions their opinions, while others feel almost confronted or assaulted because they eat this way sometimes or often or feel they can’t afford to eat otherwise, or don’t have the time to eat otherwise,” Dr. Bazilian added.
Addressing the debate herself, Leyla told Insider that she loves controversy. “Look where it’s got the TikTok. It’s divided a nation and we’re all talking about it,” she said, “that’s such a good thing.”
Leyla, who is a former teacher, hopes to one day be able to use her experiment to tackle obesity in schools. “We need to get out there and we need to educate people that this food, while you can eat it in moderation,” she said, “you can’t have it be 80% of your diet.”
Dr. Bazilian didn’t necessarily agree that “scare tactics” would work with young children. “I don’t think it’s a good approach or could work well,” she said.
“But I do think visuals are compelling and can be used to good nutrition education principles,” she added. “We need a multi-pronged approach to tackle the very real health concerns around overweight and obesity as it relates to poorer health outcomes in children.”
Read the original article on Insider