In 2021, the phrase “McDonald’s Hack” usually refers to a genre of content Tick ​​tock– How-to videos on how to order Mickey D for special off-menu items. But as it turns out, there is hacking going on on the other side of the cash register as well. And it could make customers sick.

A recent investigation by Motherboard Some McDonald’s shopkeepers routinely “hack” into their own soft serve machines by using a device that allows them to bypass the equipment cleaning cycles. “Hacking” has been a practice since at least 2013, according to an internal memo from Taylor, the maker of McDonald’s soft serve machines. However, it is not known how many sites are currently doing this.

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According to the report, soft-serve machines at McDonald’s locations have been modified with “jumpers” – plastic or metal mounts on the back of the machine that can override a critical part of their software. Taylor machines are designed to clean themselves daily and will no longer function or “lock out” during the cleaning cycles. Employees can use “jumpers” to unlock soft-serve machines and skip the cleaning steps.

But why would McDonald’s operators want to do this? As in a recent one Wired Article, the daily pasteurization process takes four hours and, if interrupted, is automatically canceled and restarted. Taylor began adding pasteurization capabilities to its machines around 2005 after running NBC a synopsis on McDonald’s Soft Serve OperationThe reason for this was that MickeyD’s ice machines were dirty and likely making customers sick. Pasteurization was an effective response to this complaint, but it created other issues: Taylor machines were regularly offline or not working properly and got stuck in cleaning cycle loops.

The story goes on

The pressure to keep these machines running smoothly can be immense, a McDonald’s maintenance expert told Vice. Given the popularity of certain McDonald’s soft ice cream products (such as the seasonal ones) Shamrock shake) It’s easy to see how the benefits of a “hack” that could keep machines out of service for extended periods of time could outweigh the disadvantages. The technician admitted that in one case he was pressured by a McDonald’s operator to install the “jumper”. They refused.

It’s not the only way operators have tried to take matters into their own hands and crack the maintenance cycle of these machines. Kytch, a third-party electronic device developed by two engineers, has also been used by franchisees to “hack” into the software of Taylor’s soft-serve machines to make them run more efficiently. However, McDonald’s went after Kytch and allegedly hired private investigators to obtain the device. The makers of Kytch claim that the chain announced their own very similar technology shortly afterwards.

Both Taylor and McDonald’s are aware of the “jumper hack” and have issued statements prohibiting its use. In 2013 Taylor published a Service Bulletin describing jumpers as “violating the FDA Food Code” [that] can significantly increase the risk of offering unsafe products to the public. “McDonald’s confirmed in a statement to Eat This that it does not authorize or condone systems that bypass the regular cleaning cycle.” However, they believe that the problem of “hacking” is a minor one.

“We believe this issue affects a very limited number of restaurants and we have not been made aware of cases where bypass has been used recently,” the statement said.

The companies rejected the hack for good reason. Bypassing the hygiene cycle, which is the only guarantee of food safety, is a high-risk solution to a long-term problem. How Business Insider In a 2018 interview with food poisoning expert Bill Marler, it was revealed that if improperly maintained, soft-serve machines can become sources of listeria, a potentially deadly bacterial infection. So the potential for unsafe soft serve at McDonald’s could be greater than you might have thought.

For more information, see McDonald’s could be sued by three-quarters of its franchisees for thisand don’t forget it Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest restaurant news straight to your inbox.