Quickly made, quickly served, quickly eaten. That’s fast food in six simple words, although in reality, perhaps badly made, poorly served, quickly eaten is a more appropriate summary.
It’s been well documented that junk food is exactly what it says on the tin: junk. Still, it doesn’t seem to stop us from lining up in droves and flinging our hard-earned cash into fast food chains’ tills.
McDonald’s continue to sell an astounding 75 hamburgers per second, and you can never go more than just over one hundred miles in the US without seeing those famous golden arches luring hungry clientele inside.
Indeed, most people are willing to occasionally gorge on the kind of food that isn’t exactly great for them. An understandable mind-set of course, given that a couple of solid gym sessions will work off the high calorie count that came inside that Big Mac box.
But there’s more concerning aspects to fast food than the prospect of putting on a few extra pounds, and recent research across the board has revealed several horror stories that hide behind the glossy menus and vibrant packaging. Listed here are some of these stories: disturbing fast food facts that will change your diet forever.
1. Draining the Brain
This is perhaps the most alarming information available about fast food in the modern day. Everyone is familiar with the fatty contents and high sugar levels present in burgers, chips and soda in these environments, but what people may be less aware of is the fact that fast food items may also actually have detrimental effects on the human mind.
Chowing down on junk food on a regular basis disrupts the flow of blood to the brain, and after a certain amount of time can make you appear like a member of the walking dead. Unless we begin to actively cut back on our fast food consumption, a world of shuffling zombies might not be such an implausible possibility after all.
2. Fecal Fizz
Some people may claim that they do not necessarily mind where their food comes from as long as it tastes good. However, there’s an exception to every rule, and the fact that thousands of drink dispensers in fast food restaurants have displayed traces of fecal bacteria is surely that exception in this case.
In low doses, the particular form of bacteria found on these drink dispensers (known as coliform bacteria) won’t kill you, but the fact that this strand is commonly found in feces is revolting enough to make even the most unhygienic person want to kick the fizzy drinks forever.
Whilst this substance might not necessarily make you sick, another form of bacteria found in these drink dispensers certainly will: a nasty little strand called e.coli. This bacteria can cause severe food poisoning symptoms, and in rare cases has even caused death.
The message here couldn’t be clearer: stay away from fast food drink dispensers.
3. Sickly Syrup
Ever notice that you still feel thirsty after guzzling down a jumbo-sized fizzy drink from your local fast food restaurant? Well, there’s a reason for that.
To give these beverages a succinct, sickly-sweet taste, many fast food chains gleefully load their fizzy drinks with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) – a highly processed substance that performs as a sugar substitute.
Whilst high levels of HFCS allow a sweet flavor to dance on your tongue, they also tear away at the enamel on your teeth, stretch out your stomach lining, and attack your vital organs. Bizarrely, gobbling right out of a sugar bowl might actually be healthier for you.
4. Bad Eggs
You might want to start taking a pass on any egg-based fast food breakfasts when hunger hits you in the morning time.
In an attempt to cut back on production costs, a wide variety of fast food chains often use an egg substitute for their breakfast dishes known as “Premium Egg Blend” – which has been proven to contain a troubling substance named glycerine. You might not be too familiar with the name of this material, but chances are you will have come into contact with it whilst taking a shower or having a shave.
Yup, this solvent is regularly apparent in shaving foam and soap, and whilst consuming either of these products in small doses probably wouldn’t kill you, that’s hardly an endorsement for a breakfast meal is it?
5. Stretchy Bread
You might be surprised to learn that Subway is actually the largest fast food supplier in the world, even ahead of those inescapable giant golden arches that seem to follow you around to every single street corner wherever you go.
But this is perhaps only the second most surprising fact about the Subway sandwich chain, with the “winner” being a little a fact that’s a little more unsettling.
Until recently, the bread used for sandwiches in this fast food establishment contained a chemical called azodicarbonamide – a substance that’s previously been used to create yoga mats.
Subway has since declared that this chemical has been wiped away from their bread recipe, but it’s still enough to turn your stomach if you’ve ever munched down on an Italian BMT before.
6. Fly Egg Sauce
Some disturbing news for you Americans out there. Regulations sanctioned by the Food and Drug Administration of the USA actually allow for 30 or more fly eggs per 100 grams and 1 or more maggot per 100 grams to be present in tomato-based sauces.
Admittedly, these guys are the ones who know their stuff when it comes bacteria, but the thought of scoffing down fly eggs as part of your dish is enough to turn you off fast-food pasta dishes forever.
7. Cows and Cows and Cows
If you ever felt a little guilty about eating an animal after licking your fingers clean and binning your Big Mac box, the following little tidbit may be enough to guilt-trip you into never buying a hamburger ever again. Taking one bite of a big, fat juicy fast food burger might mean that you’re actually chomping into bits and pieces extracted from over one hundred different cows.
After cattle are slaughtered, the “cheaper” bits and pieces are all tossed together for processing, where these gristly cuts of meat are mushed up into circular shapes and given a pump of fat for good measure. The result is the typical, cheaply made fast food hamburger, which is subsequently shipped off to a variety of fast food chains around the world and then flies off the shelves into the hands of antsy customers.
Perhaps if more of them knew what they were eating, they might begin to ration their burger buying habits, and switch to grilling in their own backyards instead.
8. Cheese That Won’t Please
Nothing makes a burger better than a thick slice of succulent cheddar cheese sizzling nicely between the meat and bun. Problem is, at fast food restaurants this cheese isn’t cheddar. Heck, half the time it’s barely even cheese.
Research has revealed that around half the contents of most processed cheese in fast food restaurants is chemicals, additives and fat – leaving a final slice that’s less than 50% of what it claims to be. Isn’t that some barely-food for thought?
9. Beach Food
There’s an ingredient called silicon dioxide that’s often found in spicier fast food items such as chili and buffalo wings. You’re probably more familiar with its other name: sand. Nobody asked for their food to be sprinkled with bits from the beach, but fast food restaurants have gone ahead and done it anyway. Urgh.
10. Chemical Shakes
Fast food joints really know how to jazz up a milkshake, but if you knew exactly what went into these drinks, it’d be enough to make you hurl your milk-based beverage at the wall in disgust. Indeed, junk shakes contain all kinds of dodgy ingredients that spice that are pumped in to spice up their image, and in some cases contain even more chemicals than a typical garden fertiliser.
11. Immortal Burger
It’s a haunting sight when you accidentally stumble across expired food that’s been hidden away in the deep recesses of the fridge for weeks. At times like these, when you’re forced to pinch your nose and tentatively pluck the moldy monstrosity and tip-toe to your bin, it’s tempting to think “why do foods have to look so gross when they go off?”
Well as it so happens, McDonald’s burgers can last for 14 years and barely change in appearance. Great, right? Wrong. Foods are supposed to look revolting when they’ve expired – it’s a natural process and the warning sign that we humans need to realize that it’s no longer fit for consumption.
So when a burger barely changes after an entire decade, there’s only one real conclusion to be made: it isn’t really a burger at all. Whilst it will crust and harden when left to its own devices for years, a typical fast food burger contains so little water and so few naturally produced ingredients it’ll simply sit there looking pretty much exactly how it did when it was first made. A bit like plastic. Which is essentially what many takeaway burgers are.
12. Fries Forever
Unfortunately, McDonald’s fries display the same kind of ardent resistance to rot that a typical fast food burger does. An experiment conducted several years ago showed a batch of fries from the famous fast food chain looking exactly the same despite having sat in a pot for three long years. If ruthless bacteria isn’t prepared to nibble at these chips, then you sure as hell shouldn’t either.
13. The Sweet Taste of Beavers
Now might be the time to stop slurping on the vanilla and raspberry shakes that are available for selection on so many different fast food menus.
For added sweetness, the production process for these flavored drinks involves intermingling a head-slapping horrid ingredient into the mix called castoreum – which actually comes from the anal gland of the beaver. Shudder.
14. Not Really Nuggets
Golden, crispy chicken nuggets are a treat for the tongue when they’re cooked right. At fast food restaurants, however, the way that they’re produced is all wrong. Studies have shown that junk nuggets contain barely any chicken at all, instead being mainly comprised of fats, bone, nerve and tissue. Yuck.
15. Duck Feather Pie
Apple pie isn’t quite as appetizing as it might appear, at least not in fast food restaurants. These establishments add a bunch of strange chemicals to these juicy pies during the production phase in order to allow them to feed easily through the machines and speed up processing, and one of these unsavory additions is often an extract called L-cysteine.
Unfortunately, this ingredient is plucked from the most gag-inducing areas – including hog hair, human hair, and most incredibly, duck feathers. Take a pass on the apple pie in future.
16. Salads That Increase Your Size
Ordering a salad at a fast food restaurant is a bit like puffing on an e-cig inside a cigar bar. Sure, you’re being good and going for the healthy option, but you’re in an environment where harmful substances are being produced at a rapid rate, and whichever way you look at it, you’re still going be heading out the door in a worse state than you were before you came in.
Alarmingly, many typical fast food salads are stuffed with lots of saturated fats and sodium, and in some cases are even more detrimental to your health than a good old Big Mac burger.
17. Pictures Tell A Thousand Lies
Those posters you see of fast food burgers dripping with deliciousness are never real burgers. You probably already knew this one, but you might not realize the sheer effort that the fast food companies put in to shaping and shading their pictures to make their food look mouth-watering.
Every junk food restaurant has staff solely dedicated to making their food look absolutely sensational in print form – stopping at nothing to enhance its appearance. See, it’s not just celebs who use Photoshop after all.
18. Crazy Kids
Many of the more colorful foods served up at fast food chains contain food dyes that attempt to make the finalized product resemble something close to those glossy posters slapped on the restaurant’s interior windows.
If you frequently take your kids to eat at fast food restaurants, the presence of this ingredient ought to be enough to make you change your habits. Food dyes have been proven to actively alter the behavior of children, making them more hyperactive, intense, bad-tempered and irritable, and having even more severe symptoms for kids suffering from ADHD.
19. Beetle Juice, Beetle Juice, Beetle Juice
Oh, and those food dyes that have the potential to send your kids into hyperactive overdrive have another unsettling element to them. Some of them contain the red cochineal beetle – an insect that’s frequently captured, dried and crushed to produce an “artificial coloring” that will jazz up the look of your fast food milkshake or meal.
Consumed in low doses, this particular food dye made out of crunched-up insects isn’t going to have a nasty effect on your health, but be honest, do you want to eat something that’s come from a battered up beetle?
20. Walk It Off
If none of the above facts managed to put you off purchasing fast food, consider this as a final thought: If you went into McDonald’s right now, and purchased a small burger, small fries, and a small coke, the amount of calories, salt and saturated fat present in this moderate meal means that it woulds still take you over four hours to walk it all off.
And let’s be honest, the last thing you ever feel like doing after scoffing down a MacDonald’s burger is going for a tiring 240 minute-long walk.
Featured photo credit: Flickr, ciron810 via flickr.com