10 Shocking Things You Didn't Know About America's Food Industry

Bad boy chef and best-selling author Anthony Bourdain called the first two decades of this century “The Era of Crazed Oral Gratification.” In other words, the fetishization of food has reached new heights; we cook and eat, we Instagram photos of what we cook and eat, and we have a voyeuristic fascination with watching other people cook and eat. As Bourdain said, it’s “crazed.” But if consumers really understood the ins-and-outs of the food industry, would all that cooking, eating, watching, and Instagramming be gratifying?

The American food industry is rife with more dark secrets than the KGB. Don’t order fish on Mondays –it’s four or five days old. Skip the hollandaise sauce -and therefore brunch -because it’s a breeding ground for bacteria and never made to order. The beef at fast food joints is injected with ammonia, a chemical used in glass and window cleaning products –supposedly it kills E. coli. Panera’s pasta is microwaved. Doughnuts and other baked goods arrive at Dunkin Donuts pre-frozen. While some of these anecdotes are probably urban legends, conspiracy theories spun by disgruntled workers seeking revenge for poor wages, it’s difficult to differentiate between a tall tale and the sordid underbelly of the American food industry. If you are what you eat, then here are ten things to think about next time you have a meal.

10 Beetlejuice

9 McDonalds Took Advantage of the 2008 Recession

8 Junk Food Companies Spend Big Bucks Targeting Kids

7 There Are More Food Trends Than Runway Fashions

6 Clean Ingredients and Ethically Minded Menus

5 Food Contamination

4 Enriched Means Processed

3 Fructose Fuels the Growth of Cancer

2 Fast Food Nation’s Poor Pay


1 Soda Fountains Squirt Fecal Bacteria


Restaurant soda fountains are notoriously dirty and unsanitary. In a 2010 Virginia study, half of all soda dispensed from a sample of 30 machines in the Roanoke Valley contained fecal bacteria. Ice is a known source of pathogenic bacteria, but it is not the only thing that makes soda fountains dangerous. The nozzles and plastic tubing of the machines become a hotbed for mold and bacteria if they are not cleaned thoroughly; sugar and air create an ideal environment for bacteria to colonize. While microbiologists weren’t surprised that coliform colonies were discovered in soda fountains, the Coca-Cola Company quickly disputed the claim. Still, experts worry that a virulent strain of E. coli could grow in soda machines and believe restaurants should take the same measures as cruise ships to avoid Norovirus outbreaks.



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10 Shocking Things You Didn't Know About America's Food Industry