The Restaurant Industry: Exposed

As humans one of the essential resources we need to live is food. It helps us function by allowing us to have energy to function throughout the day, feeds our bodies with important nutrients, and significantly impacts our health. This can be a positive or negative impact, which leads into the main topic of discussion – fast food. We all love to eat in fast food restaurants such as McDonald’s, Subway, Wendy’s, Boston Pizza, The Keg, etc. Most people are aware that eating foods that contain excessive amounts of fat, sodium, and sugar can’t possibly be good for our bodies, but nonetheless, people continue to eat at these restaurants because their food tastes good and it’s convenient to do so. However, some things that people aren’t aware of are what goes into their food, the negative consequences of eating at fast food restaurants, and some disturbing secrets of the restaurant industry including how little they actually care about the cleanliness of the restaurant and the uncomfortable truth concerning animal abuse and cruelty seen in animal factory farms. 

Now, what’s actually inside of your food you may ask? First off, fast food restaurants purposely make their foods addictive and they cause you to overeat. Whole foods contain a mix of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, fibre, and water that allow the consumer to feel full as opposed to foods that restaurants serve you which stimulate dopamine – a neurotransmitter that makes you feel good and ultimately leads to food cravings and overeating. Some of the additives in these foods are MSG, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, and others. Processed foods often contain genetically modified (GM) ingredients, which are also linked to reproductive problems [1]. These types of foods also can last a long time on shelves because they contain many additives and preservatives. Large fast food chains want their food to last a while, and do not care about the negative health affects their products have on their consumers. Companies also lie about the actual contents in their products such as “100% beef ” in their meat. Finally, you may enjoy the taste of products with added sugars, fats, and sodium because they taste good. However, it is important to have a healthy diet because these items, in actuality, are harming your body.

This video shows you a little bit more insight into the restaurant industry and specially some of the ingredients used in our favourite fast food items. 

As stated previously, eating regularly at restaurants leads to many health problems. First off, obesity is a problem which is caused from overeating and food addiction. Becoming overweight has many negative impacts on your life such as being judged by others, and is unhealthy. Furthermore, mood swings, memory problems and even depression are often the result of a heavily processed-food diet [1]. Serotonin, an essential part of your body’s central nervous system, and a regulator of your brain’s activity allows it to function properly. This neurotransmitter is located in the intestines, and your gut and brain influence each other and this is why your intestinal health can have such a profound influence on your mental health, and vice versa [1]. Digestive problems are caused by eating too many processed foods and can lead to other problems such as illnesses and chronic diseases. Lastly, you could also get diabetes, and irritability, restlessness, and sleep disturbance is related to overeating to eating at fast food restaurants. It is important to think about our own health and be aware of the potential dangers of constantly eating at fast food restaurants, especially on a daily basis. 

This video shows how long foods such as burgers and fries from companies that we all love to eat from last, the results are shocking and after seeing the outcome of the experiment you will wonder how these types of foods affect your body. 

The following is a list of shocking facts that the restaurant industry (low-mid end) has kept hidden from you: [4]

  • The average fast food visit can result in consuming anywhere between 800 to 1,100 calories, and in some cases, double that, exceeding the recommended daily caloric intake for adults and children in a given day
  • Credit the caloric increase with larger portion sizes (USA)
  • Fast food chains spent more than $4.2 billion dollars in 2009 on advertising, despite pledges to decrease ads seen by children
  • Fast food packaging is second only to cigarette butts in public litter
  • Fast food items contain a lot of bacteria in them
  • Notorious for low wages and high turnover, fast food chains like McDonald’s have other labor issues like the Socially Accountable Farm Employer program criticized for lacking overtime pay and freedom of association

The following is a list of secrets that the restaurant industry (high-end) has kept hidden from you: [2]

  • Staff, ingredients and prep time have to be factored into the cost of a dish, with a pizza the quickest way to get ripped off with a huge mark up
  • Restaurants love side dishes as much as they love a vegetarian option or a bowl of soup as they cost pennies and can be sold for several dollars
  • Sometimes the ‘specials’ are only ‘special’ because restaurants are desperate to get rid of them
  • Nobody ever checks their bill properly, and the restaurant could, and sometimes do, add extra items
  • Menus are designed for women, who are much more likely to book the lunch or night, and whose partners will follow
  • Seating the clientele is an art form, with VIPs and the pretty girls at the front, and couples put at the back close to the others and “less attractive” people
  • All restaurant food will contain the chef’s saliva, as the same spoon is used to sample dishes. When presenting food they also use the “lick and stick” method to keep things in place
  • Drugs use is rife amongst workers, mainly cocaine

It doesn’t matter if the restaurant is trying to cater to a low-class, middle-class, or high-glass group of people, all of them try to increase their profit, find a way to make the most money possible without taking into account how it will impact their customers, and play many tricks on them to believe one thing even if it may not be true such as the ‘special’ item as listed above. Wherever you go out to and dine, be cautious of all of this. 

Have you ever heard of secret menu items? Many of these “secret” menu items first began as items concocted by restaurant employees or customers. Others are discontinued former menu items that are still available for those in the know [3]. These are used by restaurants to try to attract customers who feel like “insiders” and is an effective marketing tool. An example of one of these items is the monster mac at McDonald’s, yet another fast food chain secret.

This video will help aid me in further exposing the restaurant industry:

Watching this video really opened my eyes, it’s one thing to read about restaurants and how they aren’t clean, but to actually see it is life changing. It was clear that some restaurant owners didn’t care about whether or not the dishes, and utensils were dirty, they just wanted the food to get on the plate, it’s no surprise that almost 2 million people get sick from eating out every year. On top of that, 60% of workers attended work while being sick. It was shocking to learn that almost 1/4 (25%) of restaurants inspected had a health and safety violation in Canada! This is because in some restaurants, staff members aren’t always trained properly, and some owners focus on attractiveness and physical appeal as opposed to health and safety procedures. I was appalled by the list of restaurants who had the most violations for every 100 inspections, the list is as follows from least to most violations: Starbucks (11,) KFC (13,) A&W (17,) Subway (18,) Pizza Hut (20,) Tim Horton’s (21,) Swiss Chalet (29,) Wendy’s (30,) McDonald’s (33,) Boston Pizza and The Keg (36,) Second Cup (40,)and Moxie’s Grill & Bar (49, a restaurant with locations in Regina, Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto, and Calgary takes the #1 spot with most health violations/100 inspections.) Some of the most common violations include: not washing hands, contaminated cloths and other supplies, not properly cleaned cups/dishes, and transferred bacteria. This is a major problem because many people get sick including the 200 from the Harvey’s/Swiss Chalet who got sick from E.coli in the kitchen and faced severe health consequences. Restaurants also don’t store foods in the right temperature which can cause food poisoning. Another problem is that there is a lot of management, and even if you spot an issue it’s intimidating and is unpredictable whether or not your voice will be heard/any changes will be made. Finally, restaurants might be selling rotten meat, add extra sugar to your food, their buffets contain a lot of bacteria, their trays are filthy, some water pitchers don’t get washed, and restaurant lemons are almost as filthy as the floor.

Finally, the last topic is animal abuse and cruelty. Let’s first take a look at animal factory farm and the conditions the animals face from a couple companies:

It is absolutely disgusting and these videos do a great job at showing how large companies such as KFC and McDonalds treat the animals that they use for their meat and ultimately serve the general public. Furthermore, it shows how badly people act when they think that they aren’t under surveillance and how little they care about the animals. This further solidifies that companies are run by greedy CEO’s who want a higher profit and will do anything in order to get the most amount of money in their pocket after each working day. 

If you want to learn more about animal cruelty please visit this website: http://www.rollingstone.com/feature/belly-beast-meat-factory-farms-animal-activists

How you can determine if a restaurant is safe to eat at/what to do if you have concerns:

  • You can search up the restaurant’s last inspection report
  • If you’ve had a bad experience somewhere, speak out and spread awareness on that particular restaurant
  • Check out the washroom
  • If you have concerns, speak to the manager
  • Call your public health office

How you can help end animal cruelty/fight against animal factory farms: [5]

  • Learn about the issue and spread the word
  • Do some research about the meat you’re buying, and investigate if the animal was raised in an appropriate environment
  • You can choose to buy products from farms with high standards of animal welfare, or to limit the amount of animal products you purchase, also look for the animal welfare certification symbol on the product/packaging
  • Ask local grocers and restaurants to offer foods that are more humanely raised 
  • Fight for food safety by voicing your opinion to an organization that supports this cause
  • Start your own organization, start a club, or a petition

Now, I’m not saying to completely stop eating at fast food restaurants. Everything is good in moderation. I am recommending eating healthier foods and choosing a healthy lifestyle that adds years to your life, gives you a lot of energy, and helps you avoid diseases such as cancer and diabetes. Also, I am confident that you’re more aware of the ingredients in many foods, the impacts they have on your body, the reality of the business/industry, some of its secrets, how little restaurants actually care about their customers, and the upsetting truth about animals in factory farms. Through this post, I am hoping that you take the initiative and spread the word to others so that we can educate others, raise awareness, and help create change to make a difference in the world. 

References:

[1] Gates, Donna, “10 Things the Processed Food Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know,” July 15, 2013. Retrieved June 6, 2015 from http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/07/15/processed-food-secrets.aspx

[2] Dixon, Haley, “The 20 shocking secrets every diner should know,” July 14, 2013. Retrieved June 6, 2015 from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/restaurants/10178623/The-20-shocking-secrets-every-diner-should-know.html

[3] Little, Katie, “Secret’s Out! Hidden restaurant menu items for insiders,” April 8, 2013. Retrieved June 6, 2015 from http://www.cnbc.com/id/100620137

[4] Ettinger, Jill, “7 Dirty Secrets Fast Food Chains Don’t Want You To Know,” January 22, 2012. Retrieved June 6, 2015 from http://www.organicauthority.com/foodie-buzz/dirty-secrets-fast-food-chains-dont-want-you-to-know.html

[5] No Author, “10 Ways You Can Fight Factory Farms,” n.d. Retrieved June 6, 2015 from https://www.aspca.org/fight-cruelty/farm-animal-cruelty/10-ways-you-can-fight-factory-farms

Reasons for including this post in the culminating task:

I was always curious about the restaurant industry and have heard a lot about it. I was eager to research into it, and find out the truth. What I found was astonishing, and I wanted to create a blog post on it to expose the industry and raise awareness on some of the tactics restaurants use to trick their consumers, and the truth behind it all. Furthermore, I wanted to educate people on the topic and one of the main points of having a blog is to spread knowledge and wisdom. Educating people is not enough, therefore, I took the extra step of informing people on what they could do to help. I also spent a lot of time on this post as there was a lot of content and research needed. This post really shows my growth in writing because I was able to engage the audience well with a strong lead. If I were to write this post again, I would keep all of the videos because it enhances the post, and I would break up the content into sub-headings. Finally, what I would do differently is I would put the most important information first, as that was something I didn’t keep in mind when creating this post. 

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