“Avoid These Fast Food Items,” Say Fast Food Employees
We all know fast food is not good for us. Most nutrition experts agree that it should be eaten “rarely or never.” But having said that, most of us will grab a meal from a fast food restaurant sometimes. I know I am guilty of grabbing “junk food” when I am in a rush or am too tired to cook something.
So if you’re someone who eats fast food, be it rarely or more often than you should, it doesn’t hurt to know what to avoid. Here are the fast food items you should stay away from, and some general tips to keep you from getting serious junk food remorse. (See also: 22 Reasons to Stop Drinking Soda)
Note: These tips come from people who have worked in the fast food business, via reddit. I cannot verify their accuracy 100%, but I have only posted those tips that were repeated by several different individuals.
1. “Unusual” Pizza Toppings
If you go for the normal pizza toppings, like pepperoni, sausage, ham, pineapple, and the usual veggies, you should be fine. But when you start ordering pizzas with more exotic toppings, you risk getting some older produce on your pie. The reason is simple — regular toppings are used up quickly and replaced often. If they go off, they have plenty left in stock to replace them. However, the quirky items, like meatballs, green olives, artichokes, and sun-dried tomatoes, are in short supply. They could be sitting out longer, and they may well be older than other toppings when they’re cooked.
2. Wendy’s Chili
This one has been covered before in an article I wrote on employee secrets, but it still deserves a mention in this list. When you order Wendy’s chili, you might be getting old hamburgers that have been left around all day. They get boiled and mashed up, and chili mix is added.
3. Sweet Teas
It appears that fast food places like to put the sweet in sweet tea. Some places are adding around one pound of sugar to a gallon of the stuff. However, it’s worth noting that almost all of the soft drinks out there have a high sugar content, so you’re better off sticking with water. And it’s free.
4. Vegetarian and Vegan Items
In some of the bigger, busier fast food chains, ordering vegetarian and vegan items should come with a warning — “this product may contain traces of meat.” The reason is laziness and poor hygiene standards. When it’s rush hour, or when it’s just way easier to do so, cooks will sometimes use the same cooking utensils for the vegetarian and vegan options as they do for meat products.
5. Anything Ending in "Nugget"
Chicken nuggets are clearly the biggest culprit here, although no one is ruling out other kinds of meat. Basically, chicken nuggets are made from mechanically separated meat (MSM), which is created through a process that extracts every last piece of flesh, meat, and sinew from the bones of the animal. This is then ground into a gruesome paste that is then dyed, flavored, shaped, and put in a box for you to eat. You can read more facts about this here, as well as some of the statements about MSM that are not true.
6. “Fresh” Grilled Chicken
It may be a healthier option than fried chicken, but don’t go thinking that you’re getting something delicious and nutritious. It is common practice in many fast food restaurants, including McDonald’s and Burger King, to squirt liquid margarine on the grill and the chicken. And when it’s sitting in the holding drawer, guess what…more liquid margarine goes on to keep it juicy.
7. Anything Close to Closing Time
You know how it is. You’ve been out at a bar or club and feel hungry. Or you’re working very late. But whatever the reason, sometimes you want to grab a bite before you go home, and the flickering light in the distance is like an oasis. It's a fast food joint, and it’s just about to close. They’ll hook you up with a fresh burger or a great pizza, right? Well, think again. Chances are the employees are tired and want to go home, and they don’t really care about breaking out all the ingredients again to feed you. So they might give you whatever’s left, possibly telling you they’re “out” of certain items in order to guide you to the ones they’ve got sitting under the heat lamps. If you must eat something that late, go to a grocery store and put together a sandwich with fresh ingredients. It’s quick, cheap, and a much better option.
8. Outback’s Bloomin’ Onion
Employees at Outback Steakhouse do say that everything there is delicious and cooked to order, although their Outback Special sirloin is usually a cheaper cut of meat and has a high profit margin. However, it seems their signature appetizer, the Bloomin’ Onion, hides a dark secret. Here’s what one former employee, redditor Hurrayforzac, had to say about it:
Every night, we drain and filter the French fry oil, and put in a chunk of new shortening. The old French fry oil gets filtered in this weird box on wheels and drained into the appetizer deep-vat fryer (shrimp, and I think mushrooms).
The oil form the appetizer fryer is filtered in the box and then dumped into the 2nd appetizer fryer (for chicken tenders, etc.). The old oil form the 2nd appetizer fryer (the third fryer in the line) gets filtered and dumped into the fourth and final fryer, which is used exclusively for Bloomin' Onions.
So basically the oil used to make the trademark appetizer at Outback is cooked in 4 day old, 4 times filtered shortening. the same oil used to make French fries, then coconut shrimp, then chicken tenders, all finally getting infused into the thick eggy batter that encases that husk of a vegetable. Don't eat those.
9. KFC’s Shredded Chicken Snackers
When the fried or grilled chicken has been sat for too long in the heating bays, it cannot be sold to customers, but it can be repurposed. By taking the dry chicken and adding a sauce to it (honey BBQ or buffalo) it can be given a new life as a KFC Snacker. Now, personally I don’t mind the idea of finding ways to save food, especially with so many people going hungry. But if the idea of old, dry chicken being sold as “fresh” makes you angry, you should probably steer clear of this one.
10. Ice From the Soda Fountains
As I’ve written in the past, you should probably avoid soda if you want to save money and your health. But for those who do indulge, or who like a cup of ice water, think twice about getting it from the soda fountain. It appears that many employees know just how difficult it is to clean inside of the ice machines. And because “what the eye doesn’t see, the chef gets away with” is par for the course in many fast food restaurants, the inside of these machines are last on the priority list when it comes to cleaning.
Those are the top 10 I found, but I’d like to throw this one out to current (or former) fast food employees. Is there something you’d add to the list?