What’s Really Going on in Your Fast Food?
Despite the fact that everyone knows eating Fast Food is akin to sticking a loaded gun to your head when it comes to prolonging your health, people still manage to shovel it down their food holes at an alarming pace. Hey, I’m not exactly exempt from this performance myself. I didn’t get this svelte, Atlas-like figure from tofu and oat nuts, buddy. Regardless of what everyone knows about the revolting, unhealthy food that places like McDonald’s and Burger King regularly shill to us all over TV, radio, magazines, and the net, we still shuffle like the oft-slaughtered cattle to their death dungeons and sit down to a gift-wrapped meal that’s slowly destroying us from the inside like so much food-based cancer.
Yet, the companies tell us that their food is “100% this” and “All Natural that” and “Un-Processed another thing”, but do we really believe them? Do we really nod in mystified approval when McDonald’s makes a practice of telling us that their hamburgers are “All-Pure Beef”? Yes, yes we do. But my friends, we are all being duped. But duped with sleight of hand rather than out-and-out lied to. It’s all a magic trick and we’re the unsuspecting audience of hungry, stupid consumers.
So, let’s see if we can dispel a few rumors and white, harmless lies. Let’s see if we can discover if “100%” anything is really what it sounds like it is. Are you hungry yet?
So here’s the skinny: McDonald’s has been claiming for the last few years that they use nothing but 100% Pure Beef for their hamburgers. No shit? Wow, that’s just fantastic! Wait, wait, wait… just hold those watering maws for a minute, Fat Albert. You do understand that “100% Pure Beef” can mean a whole hell of a lot more than what seems obvious. Years ago, the big issue was, of course, what kind of ‘other stuff and/or animals’ are actually used in the creation of McEE Dee’s burgers leading folks to assume it might have been earth worms, kangaroo meat, and possibly eyeballs.
Well, fortunately those rumors were dispelled, but the simple fact remains that “100% Pure Beef” burgers can and are made from less than stellar cuts of the cow. Imagine buying a few nice steaks at the store. You trim off the bits that don’t otherwise seem appetizing and either toss them in the trash or maybe use them for stock. But, what you don’t do is eat them. They’re still 100% Pure Beef, from actual cuts of the beef, but they’re not something you’d typically make hamburgers out of. McDonald’s, however, as well as just about every other fast food chain, goes this route. Why? It’s cheaper, buddy: Cost effective.
One of Fast Food-dom’s most famous ‘chicken sandwich’ has to be the semi-oval-shaped patty on the sub-like bun offered at Burger King. There’s nothing overly spectacular about it other than the fact that it’s slathered in mayo and lettuce and has been transformed into every nationality from Italian to Club… wait, Club isn’t a Nationality. Moving on. The fact is, as far as quickie chickie goes, BK knows what it’s doing. However, what ‘it’s doing’ might just be a tad sinister.
For the most part -if you happen to rip apart one of these bastions of sandwich sadism- you’ll notice that what you have is a ‘pressed patty’ constructed from what adds up to nothing more than chipped chicken. You see, actual chicken breasts are a bit more expensive and thus have to be priced as such. This here piece of chicken particle board (more than just white meat here, kids) is so cheap they’ve lately been offering ‘buy one get one’. Tasty. Don’t be too surprised if you happen to chomp down on something resembling a tendon… or a comb. Again, I say, ‘Tasty’.
Want something cold? Want something frosty? How about uh… oh, wait. I ruined it. Sorry. Anyway, how about a Wendy’s Frosty. I love these things. I really do. But I’ve often wondered what was going on inside these supposed ‘shakes’. You’d think it’d be something innocuous like, oh, I don’t know, milk and fuckin’ ice cream. But you’d be oh so very wrong. According to Men’s Health, this is what’s clanking under the lid: “Wendy’s Frosty requires 14 ingredients to create what traditional shakes achieve with only milk and ice cream. So what accounts for the double-digit ingredient list? Mostly a barrage of thickening agents that includes guar gum, cellulose gum, and carrageenan.” Oh, well thank goo… wait, did you say carrageenan? Isn’t that sea weed? Yes. Yes it is. Enjoy your Frosty.
Okay, it’s not like that shit’s gonna kill you or anything (it’s used as a stabalizer in a ton of foodstuffs), but it’s also used in sexy, sexy personal lubricants. Oh, now we’re on tasty train. Oh, and while we’re on the subject, this stuff also contains propylene glycol. Which, by the way, is used as “As a moisturizer in medicines, cosmetics, food, toothpaste, shampoo, mouth wash, hair care and tobacco products.” Super.
Truly one of my favorite fast food franchises of all time has got to be Taco Bell. There’s just something so… different about enjoying some pseudo-South-of-the-Border grub that an Authentic Mexican person would likely avoid like the plague. It’s probably for the best since, judging by what’s happening within the shelled confines of most of their ‘foods’, it may have already caused a plague. So let’s see; McDonald’s claims its ‘100% Pure Beef’, what does Taco Bell have to say about all this nonsense? Well, according to The Consumerist’s findings, it’s all “USDA Approved”, which tells us precisely dick. That’s like touting that your toilet is approved by the American Society For Comfortable Pooping: it’s meaningless. Of course it’s USDA approved or else it wouldn’t be able to be sold at all.
So where does that leave us? Well, we could simply assume that this means the ‘meat’ is a lower grade than say, Grade A. Ah, but as it turns out this might be a bit of a misnomer, too, since that really doesn’t mean shit either. Now what? Well there is this about the USDA itself, “USDA does not use a letter grading scale. USDA grading is Prime, Choice, and Select. Lower grades (Standard, Commercial, Utility, Cutter, and Canner). Also USDA grading is VOLUNTARY.” Voluntary? Like weather or not you choose to go to college? Great, that settles… nothing. Well, sadly it seems that there is no easy answer to finding out what’s really in Taco Bell’s doo doo meat, but it’s pretty obviously not going to readily kill you or else someone would be slapping the shackles on the company. But that still doesn’t mean you ought to subsist on it.
So what’s to be done when we’ve had our fill of ‘probably beef’ and ‘maybe tacos’? Well, there’s always the runner-up in the fast food race: Arby’s Roast Beef. It seems innocent enough, right? Apparently fresh-sliced actual roast beef and evidently not harvested from some mutant giraffe-gorilla hybrid… right? Easy there, Captain Assumption. Let’s see what kind of facts we can find. According to Snopes.com -those myth-dispelling folks- a letter was written to the good people at Arby’s inquiring about the possibility of the roast beef being either liquidus or gelatinous upon arrival at the various locations. In part, this was the answer, “No.” Okay, here’s the rest of it.
Still, that doesn’t exactly go into detail as to what it is and where on the cow it comes from. Ah, I say we turn to Yahoo Answers! They seem to be a wealth of information that might not be entirely made of shit. Here’s what one astute reader insists, “OK, here is the inside story. It is beef. In a manufacturing plant, they take odd pieces of meat that would be good for scrap basically, they grind it and add liquids to make a slurry. They pump that into bags and then cook it. It then turns back into a solid that can be sliced. This is a common practice that is used to make very cheap cold cuts. If you look at meat you will see the lines of the muscle as you pull it apart. If you look at Arby’s Roast Beef you will not see any muscle.” This makes about as much sense as anything else and it is indeed a common practice. In fact, it’s more or less how hot dogs are made. So, ‘Roast Beef’, yes… but, also not really. Ya know, it’s your tummy. Cram it with whatever ya want. I’ma go getta order of Sonic Tots…