“People are making poop into food!” I called B.S. on this urban legend at first, until I looked into it. There is both truth and some falseness to it. It is true that there are many social media articles reporting a Japanese researcher named Mitsuyuki Ikeda who did find out how to transform human excrement into edibles.
However, there is no associated scientific article or source cited in these reports, which is quite suspicious. From that, I can only assume that it is either a prank, or a very small-scale project completed by one researcher. In either of these situations, it’s impossible for Jack in the Box to use mass amounts of the poop-transforming technology to make their hamburgers human-sourced — that’s the falsity of this myth.
Hearing about the circulation of this story made me pretty disappointed in society’s common senses. I mean, I know that NASA has the technology to recycle human urine for astronauts in space with limited water sources. It’s also known that our vegetables are fertilized with excrement. But seriously — what do you think are the odds of this process being allowed in food production?
The health consequences, according to Ikeda, are minimal if his burgers were cooked to proper temperatures. There’s a whole host of diseases classified as fecal-to-oral. Poop to mouth. Nasty nasty. That in itself is a fairly good reason why this practice wouldn’t be allowed.
If you’re still convinced that no-poo fast food burgers are poisoning you, don’t eat them. It’s pretty simple. Skipping fast food altogether has way more benefits than simply not eating human excrement. (Just to get it straight, there is no reliable evidence that there is poop in burgers.)
Stepping away from the “ew” factor, scientifically, it would be futuristically cool if someone did find out how to transform poop into food. We could solve world hunger, resolve tropical deforestation (less space needed to keep cattle), and even make more people into vegetarians (just kidding).
The most shocking thing about this myth, however, is how many people I’ve talked to believe it or are willing to believe it without question. Have food myths become the new ghost stories? What level of gullibility are we willing to accept for society?
In the words of Buddha, “Question everything, even this.”