Dietitians don’t recommend eating fast food for the health benefits, likely because they’re few and far between. But an estimated 80% of Americans still eat fast food monthly. Although we choose unhealthy meals sometimes, we still expect fast food chains to follow FDA-approved health codes and basic sanitation laws.
Unfortunately, restaurants do break these codes — and the resulting horror stories could turn even the biggest meat lover into a vegetarian. You won’t believe the scandals these restaurants went through, especially the disgusting ingredient found in McDonald’s burgers (page 9).
The AP reported that an Ohio customer discovered “a piece of flesh about three-fourths of an inch long” after biting into his Arby’s sandwich. Health investigators noted the Arby’s manager was wearing a bandage on his thumb. The conclusion? He sliced his thumb while shredding lettuce and reportedly neglected to throw away the contaminated produce.
Next: As if fried chicken wasn’t bad enough for your health
In a TV report, workers at KFC meat supplier Shanghai Husi Food Co were shown reusing meat that had fallen to the factory floor. They also reportedly mixed fresh and expired meat before selling it to customers. KFC immediately apologized and cut ties with its supplier.
However, Yum! reported that the scandal “significantly impacted China sales.” It also led the company to reduce its full-year earnings-per-share growth projection from 20% to just 6–10%, according to Forbes.
Next: The report that ruined your morning coffee
The BBC consumer series Watchdog released a report earlier this year that shook iced coffee lovers everywhere to their cores. Samples of iced drinks from Starbucks, Caffe Nero, and Costa Coffee contained varying levels of fecal bacteria.
Expert Tony Lewis told the BBC that, “These should not be present at any level — never mind the significant numbers found.” These kinds of bacteria are opportunistic pathogens and a common source of human disease. Spokespeople for each of the cafes conducted investigations and told the public they’d take the appropriate actions to counteract the findings.
Next: This beloved Mexican chain featured E. coli on the menu.
Customers reported falling severely ill after eating at a Virginia Chipotle location in July 2017. Customers submitted a total of eight reports to the website iwaspoisoned.com, which immediately alerted Business Insider. The affected customers reported symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, severe stomach pain, dehydration, and nausea.
“We are working with health authorities to understand what the cause may be and to resolve the situation as quickly as possible,” said Jim Marsden, Chipotle’s executive director of food safety.
Next: This top-shelf liquor is anything but.
5. TGI Friday’s
Eight New Jersey TGI Friday’s locations received $500,000 fines for serving customers alcoholic beverages with lower-shelf alcohol than they’d ordered. Investigators visited 63 establishments in New Jersey, including the TGI Friday’s locations. They asked for their drinks “neat,” without rocks or any mixer.
Instead of drinking the liquor, the detectives with Alcohol Beverage Control tested 150 samples with a true spirit authenticator to make sure they received the liquor they ordered. “At a very fundamental level, this is a very wrong practice,” said Michael Halfacre, director of the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
Next: This takes “finger food” to the next level.
6. Taco Bell
When a Taco Bell drive-through confused a Florida couple’s order, the employee gave them an order of cheesy nachos as a replacement. As the couple began their meal, the woman discovered a full acrylic nail buried in the ingredients.
After becoming physically ill at the sight, according to AOL, they complained to the manager, who gave them the wrong number to Taco Bell’s corporate office. Once they got in touch with corporate, they refused the $40 gift card the company offered them, vowing to never eat there again.
Next: Fast food is unhealthy enough without this illegal activity.
7. Burger King
In 2010, a Florida woman discovered a blue pill in her Burger King chicken sandwich after she nearly swallowed it. The local fire station confirmed that it was indeed hydrocodone, a prescription painkiller. Shortly after, another diner spotted a blue pill inside his fish sandwich made at the same Burger King location.
The culprit? A new employee, 20-year-old Woody Bernard Duclose, who received five years in state prison for the two deeds. He pleaded guilty on “two charges of poisoning food with intent to kill or injure someone,” according to The Florida Times-Union. Evidently Burger King had hired him one week prior.
Next: Maybe it’s a good thing the ice cream machine is always down.
This came out of McDonald's ice cream machine in case y'all were wondering… pic.twitter.com/DTXXpzE7Ce
— NICK (@phuckyounick) July 14, 2017
In July 2017, 18-year-old McDonald’s employee Nick was fired for exposing mold he found in a Louisiana location. The mold he found after cleaning the sides of an ice cream machine was so extensive that it shocked him.
“I thought [the machine] would be cleaned regularly,” Nick told BuzzFeed News. He also said that neither he nor any other general employees were ever instructed to clean the machine. A McDonald’s HQ spokesperson told BuzzFeed that the tray Nick found didn’t come into contact with the actual ice cream. Still, the chain fired Nick for his exposé of the grotesque mold.
Next: This chain’s disgusting burger ingredient isn’t legal in other countries.
9. McDonald’s … again
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver exposed U.S. McDonald’s beef in a controversial episode of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution where he referred to its “pink slime” ingredient. “Slime” was Oliver’s name for what’s left of the meat after all the choice cuts of beef are taken.
The beef trimmings are banned for human consumption in the U.K., but they’re legal in the United States, where they are treated with ammonium hydroxide in order to kill off bacteria such as E. coli.
McDonald’s announced soon after the show aired that it would discontinue using Beef Products Incorporated and their controversial boneless lean beef trimmings. Both companies claimed the decision was made long before the show aired.
Next: Just because something tastes like chicken doesn’t mean it’s truly chicken.
Canadian broadcaster CBC conducted a Marketplace investigation on chain restaurants’ chicken sandwiches, and the results were eyebrow-raising, at best. The study found that two popular Subway chicken products only contained about half chicken DNA.
Subway’s breast meat in Canada was 54% chicken, and their chicken strips were only 43%. The results were “such an outlier” that the lab CBC used did five additional retests. The “chicken” portion turned out to be mostly soy and a few other legal fillers. A Subway rep disputed the claim but vowed to take the matter up with Subway’s supplier.
Next: This chain’s negligence killed customers.
Jack-in-the-Box, an American fast food chain that sells burgers, shakes, and everything in between, faced a major E. coli outbreak in 1993. According to The Oregonian, the bacteria left 600 people sick and killed four children.
The San Diego-based chain blamed its meat supplier among others. However, the United States Agriculture Department said the bacteria would have been killed had Jack-in-the-Box cooked the hamburgers at 155 degrees as required by the state, rather than at the Federal standard of 140 degrees.
Next: You won’t believe what authorities found in this chain’s burgers.
12. Burger King … again
Ireland Burger King locations got tied up in a scandal with a plant that found trace amounts of horse DNA in their beef. The horse meat scandal began when the Food Safety Authority of Ireland tested a range of frozen, ready-made burgers and found horse DNA in over one-third of the samples.
Burger King dropped the guilty supplier, Silvercrest Foods, in a “voluntary and precautionary measure.” However, customers were still wary of their products. In a statement about the scandal, Burger King representatives said, “[Silvercrest] promised to deliver 100% British and Irish beef patties and have not done so. This is a clear violation of our specifications, and we have terminated our relationship with them.”
Next: This fast food franchise didn’t think safely outside the bun.
13. Taco Bell … again
A few years ago, Taco Bell was forced to reveal the mystery ingredients that made up the other 12% of its 88% cow-filled beef. The results were FDA-approved and “safe,” but still concerning.
The beef contained traces of maltodextrin, soy lecithin, lactic acid, and caramel color, among other ingredients that are difficult to pronounce. Taco Bell took to the internet to defend and explain the chemical ingredients. However, it hardly satisfied those who argue, “If I can’t pronounce it, I won’t eat it.”
Next: We hope we never see these delivery drivers at our door.
A video prank at Domino’s went horribly awry, leaving two employees with felony charges and the brand with a major PR crisis. Employees Kristy Hammonds and Michael Setzer filmed a video while putting nasal mucus on sandwiches and violating various health code standards before allegedly sending the compromised food out for delivery.
While the employees told Domino’s they didn’t actually deliver the food, the chain still fired them and charged them with delivering prohibited foods. “We got blindsided by two idiots with a video camera and an awful idea,” said a Domino’s spokesman, Tim McIntyre.
Next: Wendy’s nearly suffers terrible consequences.
Anna Ayala dealt a blow to Wendy’s when she reported finding a human finger in her chili. The fast-food chain suffered an estimated $2.5 million in lost business following the scandal.
It turned out that Ayala and her husband, Jamie Placencia, planted the finger in an attempt to make money off of the company. Both pleaded guilty and were sentenced to nine and 12 years in prison, respectively.
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