While it’s always a great idea to cook your own meals in order to eat healthier, it’s important to remember that doing so isn’t always possible. You might not have enough time to make something; you might be away from home due to being in the middle of an exhaustive travelling day; or you simply don’t feel like cooking something at that moment. Regardless of the reason, fast food is always available to fill in any voids that home cooking can’t fill in that moment. Fast food is, for the most part, a cheap and easy food option that just so happens to be unhealthy. There’s no doubt that fast food is a tasty and convenient option that’s always there for you in a pinch. But despite this, there’s plenty of horror stories tagged onto many a fast food establishment. It doesn’t discriminate against restaurants, and it also doesn’t discriminate against customers from all walks of life. Some horror stories are centered around someone’s order being tainted with some kind of disgusting foreign object. Yet there just as many horror stories that are much worse than a careless employee royally screwing up your order. These are just some of the fast food horror stories that might cause you to lose your appetite.
10. Subway And Their “Chicken”
While this massively popular sandwich chain was founded in the U.S., this actually happened up north in Canada. Back in February 2017, CBC conducted an investigation on Subway’s chicken sandwiches, and the results even stunned them. The company’s chicken breast meat contained only 54 percent actual chicken, while their chicken strips only contained 43 percent. The results were so shocking to CBC that they even went so far as to retesting the DNA of Subway’s chicken another five separate times to ensure that they receive the same results. Sure enough, the test results remained the same, making Subway’s chicken look disgusting compared to other fast food companies. Whatever wasn’t chicken was said to be soy and other legal fillers.
In response to this shocking revelation, Subway immediately disputed the claims. They said in a statement to CBC that they simply didn’t believe the test results, save for their chicken’s soy content. Still, Subway insisted that they only use 100 percent real chicken in all of their products that calls for it. But the American-based fast food chain also said in the same statement that they would look into their supplier to make sure that their chicken was of great quality for consumers.
9. Taco Bell Used Disease-Ridden Lettuce
Popular American-born Mexican fast food chain Taco Bell has faced serious problems with the quality of their lettuce in the past. This happened back in late 2006, specifically in Taco Bell locations across Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 71 consumers who had previously eaten at a Taco Bell in one of the aforementioned states had to be hospitalized between November 20th to December 6th, 2006. Reportedly, consumers who fell ill had symptoms such as abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and a high fever. Eight of out the consumers that became sick even developed a case of kidney failure, thus putting them into greater danger.
Both Taco Bell and the CDC began investigating the problem as soon as it came to light. By December 14th, it was discovered that five Taco Bell locations were suffering from an E. coli outbreak that was making some of their consumers sick. Researchers determined that Taco Bell’s lettuce- which came out of California- was infected with E. coli. In response, the states affected by this terrible outbreak created and later implemented some stricter laws that have to do with how lettuce is handled.
8. Jack-In-The-Box’s Burgers Are Rare— Too Rare
Jack-in-the-Box- a popular fast food joint based in San Diego, California- faced a major disease outbreak in 1993 that devastated many across the United States. According to The New York Times, locations in California, Idaho, Nevada, and Washington were tainted by a large E.coli 0157:H7 outbreak infected restaurants in the previously mentioned places. This disease wound up infected over 600 people across those four states, and even resulted in the untimely death of four children. Jack-in-the-Box’s stock dropped to a pathetic 30 percent in the wake of these tragedies, and even resulted in unaffected customers losing their temper on the establishment, calling them baby killers and much more.
When this scandal came to light, Jack-in-the-Box’s executives were quick to claim that the reason for their large E. coli 01567:H7 outbreak was due to an issue with their meat supplier. But others disagreed, pointing out that the fast-food company had a bad habit of not cooking their hamburgers properly. In fact, both the United States Agriculture Department and other state officials made an official recommendation to have hamburgers cooked to an internal temperature of 155 degrees (which is state approved), rather than 140 degrees (which is Federal approved). This would effectively kill off this disease and other bacteria.
7. Golden Corral Likes To Use Dumpster Meat Over Clean Meat
Golden Corral faced some harsh criticism during the summer of 2013- and it was all thanks to a viral video. In Port Orange, Florida, a video somehow hit the Internet that includes a so-called “rogue employee” showing off dozens upon dozens of raw meat. This doesn’t sound awful, until you quickly see that it’s right next to an outdoor dumpster. This video was picked up by many news organization- including (but not limited to) Huffington Post- and it immediately stirred up controversy. It didn’t help that the video also featured the “rogue employee” in question bragging about this food being served to consumers in the near future.
Fortunately, Golden Corral responded to the video swiftly. They fired a manager of the Port Orange location, and the company owner insisted that none of the shown food was never served to consumers, nor was it ever going to be intended for consumers. The scandal seemed to die down considerably soon after, leaving many to suspect that it didn’t affect Golden Corral too badly. Still, it’s probably going to be hard for people who saw the damning video to forget the disturbing and disgusting images they saw firsthand.
6. Domino’s Employees Trick Customers By “Tampering” With Their Food
Some pranks are funny– others, not so much. Two Domino’s employees in Conover, North Carolina learned this valuable lesson the hard way back in April 2009. A YouTube video went viral and spread across many more social media platforms of employees preparing sandwiches while performing disgusting acts for the camera. Such acts included one employee putting cheese up his nose, nasal mucus being placed on the sandwiches, and violating many more health-code standards. Throughout the video, another employee provides colour commentary for each vile thing her colleague does on-camera. The offending employees insisted that none of the tainted food shown made it to a consumer, but it didn’t matter- the (now deleted) video was seen by millions of now grossed out viewers.
According to The New York Times, the fallout for Domino’s as a result of this viral video was immediate and severe. Both employees were fired, and then arrested and charged with delivering prohibited foods. Meanwhile, Domino’s disowned the offending employees as they tried hard to restore their tarnished reputation. Not responding immediately to the crisis didn’t help matters, as it became painfully clear that this scandal wouldn’t simply go away on its own. While things seem much better now, it took a long time for Domino’s to repair their image.
5. Some Ice Drinks Are Full Of Crap— Literally
It’s bad enough when one fast food joint screws u. It’s another thing when that same screw up happened to more than one joint. That was the predicament faced by three popular coffee chains in the United Kingdom- Caffe Nero, Costa Coffee, and Starbucks. In June 2017, there was a BBC consumer series on the aforementioned franchises that concerned each respective brand’s iced drinks. Samples taken of multiple iced drinks from the three companies found a truly disgusting thing- high levels of fecal bacteria in the ice. Never mind the fact that it shouldn’t even be there in the first place, but the levels found were disturbing, to put it mildly.
To understand just how bad it was, Seven out of 10 samples of ice from Costa Coffee were contaminated with bacteria found in feces. As for Caffe Nero and Starbucks, three out of 10 tested samples contained the same bacteria. Given that this specific bacteria is notorious for being the source of human diseases, there was great concern for consumers’ safety. Each coffee brand responded similarly. Caffe Nero and Starbucks both insisted that they had launched respective investigations on the matter, while Costa Coffee went further by changing how ice is handle and getting new ice storage equipment.
4. TGI Friday’s Can’t Handle Their Liquor
Laws concerning food are pretty strict (and rightfully so), but laws concerning alcohol are arguably stricter for understandable reasons. It’s not just for serious matters either- even something that looks trivial on the surface can result in massive consequences for a fast food joint. However, no one seemed to know or care at TGI Friday’s. Back in July 2013, USA Today revealed that eight locations around New Jersey served consumers alcoholic drinks that were made with lower-shelf alcohol, rather than the premium alcohol that they expected- and had paid for, too.
The investigation had begun in January of that year, when investigators tested about 150 different alcoholic drinks from the offending TGI Friday’s locations. As a result, they held no contest to substitution of a drink, and given a hefty $500 000 fine. 250 or so liquor bottles were confiscated as well. TGI Friday’s responded to this massive scandal by making operational adjustments and creating new training programs so that they adhere to the company’s bar and beverage standards. It seems like the massive fast food company has managed to put the matter behind them, as no more similar accusations have come their way. Let’s hope it continues to stay that way.
3. McDonald’s Happy Meals Contained Something Unexpected
When many people think of McDonald’s Happy Meals, they think of tasty food that comes with a toy for kids to enjoy and play with. But a location in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania had one rogue employee who would make Happy Meals anything but appropriate for kids. Back in January 2014, the Los Angeles Times reported that a female employee would overcharged Happy Meals for consumers that said, “I’d like to order a toy.” Why? Well, the offending employee would give the consumer their Happy Meal with a side of heroin when ordered at the drive-thru. When local police received a tip about what was going on, undercover officers completed an order as such. Not only did they pay $82 for what should’ve been an over $2 meal, but they received 10 baggies of heroin in their Happy Meal.
It was discovered that this was a one-woman operation, with the restaurant owner oblivious to what was going on. The employee was fired, and soon arrested. She was charged with criminal use of a cellphone, delivery of heroin, possession with intent to deliver heroin, and possession of heroin and marijuana after the latter drug was found on her person. The owner of this McDonald’s restaurant insisted that this didn’t reflect on them, and that they cooperated fully with authorities throughout their investigation.
2. Burger King Uses Horse Meat In Their Burgers
For this piece, we travel across the pond to Burger King in both the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. In January 2013, USA Today revealed that Burger King’s burgers weren’t made out of 100 percent beef like the massive fast food chain insisted. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland tested many frozen burgers and found something truly disturbing— horse DNA in over one-third of samples from Burger King locations across the UK and Ireland. Given that people from both countries typically do not eat horse meat, this was upsetting for many consumers who may have eaten a burger that wasn’t entirely made out of beef.
Burger King conducted an investigation, where it was discovered that their supplier, Silvercrest Foods, was responsible for horse meat being in the former company’s burgers. So, Burger King quickly dropped them as a supplier for good to ensure that the issue would not be a problem any longer. As for Silvercrest Foods, they responded to the scandal by shutting down their production line and recalling over 10 million burgers in and around the UK and Ireland. Both companies managed to fix this problem quickly in their respective manners, and the problem hasn’t popped up again.
1. Chi-Chi’s Serves Contaminated Scallions
There’s no doubt that the worst fast food horror stories around are the ones where people died as the result of a company’s actions. Case in point: Mexican fast food joint Chi-Chi’s came under heavy fire in November 2003. According to The New York Times, a Chi-Chi’s in Beaver County, Pennsylvania (located about 20 miles from Pittsburgh) had a massive outbreak of hepatitis A, a potentially fatal disease that affects the liver. How massive was this outbreak? About 660 people were infected with this disease, which tragically led to the four people dying. It’s been said to be the biggest outbreak of food-borne hepatitis A in the United States, according to the CDC.
An investigation into the crisis revealed that the hepatitis A came from contaminated scallions from that specific Chi-Chi’s location. It voluntarily closed down shortly after the scandal occurred. But Chi-Chi’s didn’t seem to be able to bounce back from this, as there are no more locations across the United States, or Canada either. Any locations that do exist are located in Belgium, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. While some fast food companies are able to recover from a catastrophic crisis, it’s clear that this one was simply too difficult for Chi-Chi’s to come back from.