There’s recently been a lot of attention paid to a 2014 Reddit thread with thousands of comments from former and current fast food employees. The thread asks for the inside scoop from employees on which “fast food” products are either surprisingly (and disturbingly) unsanitary, improperly prepared, or will lead to poor customer service. The thread received over 6000 responses within a day, with fast food employees the world over ready and willing to warn readers, from personal experience, that they should never order certain items if they value their health.
Despite the very many allegations, of course, it’s important to note – as does the Reddit poster who began the thread – that almost all fast food establishments are franchised, and operate largely independently with their own staff and management, and their own day-to-day health and safety standards. In other words, not every location of each chain on this list has unsanitary or unhealthy products. Still, it’s hard not to take notice when employees of fast food businesses begin to speak up about the truth behind – and corroborate tales of – the preparation of some of our favourite items. The following list might well make you think twice about your next fast food binge.
9. Ballpark Hot Dogs
Most sports fans agree that you’ve never truly experienced a baseball game unless you’ve had a genuine ballpark hotdog. This could be the case. However, one employee claims that unsold wieners at ballpark concession stands are kept in pans of water behind the grill. Although this may be normal practise, apparently many batches are refrigerated only to be reheated and sold over as along as two days. One employee claimed management encouraged them to store the hot dogs in this way for even longer than two days – so, unless you’re interested in 3-day-old sausage meat, you might want to opt for nachos at your next ballgame.
8. Movie Popcorn
Everyone who goes to the movies instantly recognizes the smell of “fresh” popcorn as soon as they walk through the doors. If customers see the popcorn being made right before their eyes, they know it is indeed fresh. Still, one employee from an unknown theatre has claimed the popcorn they serve is often the previous night’s unsold popcorn stuffed in garbage bags. Based on the employee’s experience, customers may want to skip the snacks if they’re there to see the first movie of the day.
7. Chipotle Quesarito
The only real rival of Taco Bell in North America is Chipotle. Although the quesarito is reportedly made well (and reported to be delicious by many commenters), it can take a long time to prepare in comparison to their other products. One employee said other employees and people in line will hate anyone who orders it. So while this item won’t endanger your health (well, except for the high calorie count), people who are sensitive to judgement may want to beware.
6. KFC BBQ Shredder
KFC has bulked up their menu with a few controversial items, especially contentious in today’s culture of widespread obesity. There was a lot of talk about the Double-Down sandwich (bacon and cheese between two chicken breasts as buns), but employees have also been drawing our attention to the BBQ Shredder chicken sandwich. One employee claimed the chicken used for the item is actually from chicken too old and stale to even donate to homeless shelters. The chicken is soaked in barbecue sauce until it is pulled apart, made into the sandwich, and sold to customers…
5. Gas Station Slurpees
Nothing quenches a parched throat like a cold slurpee… But have you ever wondered how often the slurpee machines at gas stations are cleaned, or even how well? One employee advises against ever buying a gas station slurpee because “the amount of mould in those machines would crush your childhood to a pulp.” Although the comment may be a little hyperbolic, it certainly makes us think again before ordering this popular drink. Indeed, fountain drinks are a commonly recurring theme in fast food employees’ reports which call into question the cleanliness of the average fountain machine.
4. Taco Bell Steak and Beans
Some people adore Taco Bell, but employees have some terrifying tales to tell about this popular chain. One employee said the instructions for preparing beans, which resembled cat food, were to add water and stir until the employee could not see white anymore. They also claimed the steak would start to resemble hair gel if left out for too long, making the dishes almost impossible to clean. Yuk.
3. Wendy’s Chilli
Lots of us turn to chilli for a hearty savoury meal, so it’s no surprise the chilli from Wendy’s is one of their most popular menu items. However, multiple employees at Wendy’s are united in their claim that the meat in the chilli is actually collected from old meat parts scrapped off the tops of burners. The meat is then boiled and added into the sauce.
2. McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets
McDonald’s is wildly popular for everything from chicken sandwiches to beef burgers. Their signature Chicken McNuggets have become a permanent staple on their menu, and a favourite of many. However, employees warn consumers that if the nuggets aren’t ordered fresh, they will simply sit under the heater for what can be hours at a time. One employee claimed they will ignore or simply reset the timer which signals the nuggets need to be thrown away.
1. McDonald’s McCafe
Another item from McDonald’s has topped the list of fast food products which employees would never consume. One employee went into some detail about how the McCafe coffee machines require special brushes to be cleaned properly – but that he has never encountered a store that actually has these brushes. He went on to say the machines contain massive amounts of dirt and black soot stockpiled in the bottoms. He did claim, however, the smoothie machines are regularly cleaned – with glass cleaner.