fast food can affect everything from your mood to your waistline, some fast-food workers are weighing in on the menu items they think people should never, ever eat -- and the reasons have little to do with childhood obesity, calorie counts, or fat content.
Related: The 5 worst "healthy" fast food meals for kids
"When I was a young buck, I worked at Burger King," writes JohnnyDollar at Reddit.com. "Here is how the oil rotation went. You had four vats of oil that you cooked fries in. And boy did you cook fries. Tons of them. After about 2 days worth, the oil got too dark for fries. So we switched it over to the ones for chicken. Since it was darker, it was ok. Then that goes on for a week. After a week of massive frying. The oil is black as motor oil. At that point, it's switched to the Fish Filet vat. That's the only thing you cook in that vat."
"When I worked at McDonald's, I accidentally left a whole bag of about 100 chicken nuggets out on a counter for way too long," Dfunkatron confesses. "They melted. Into a pool of liquid. I never understood why. But they were completely indiscernible as being the nuggets i once knew."
Related: McDonald's worker spits in tea: How gross is fast food?
Ice machines and ice-cream dispensers are also suspect, because they can be hard to clean or don't get "broken down" or taken apart often. "Been an employee for 4 years, completely stopped drinking ice from all fast food places soon as i found a caterpillar sized chunk of mold in the ice about a week after it was 'cleaned'," warns LordKira.
At some places, the food is fine, but the people who work there may make you want to eat elsewhere. "This one girl cut herself while making my sandwich, and thought I wouldn't notice, she just covered the wound with her thumb," writes wonkizzle, a Subway employee. "When it started to drip near my sandwich I said 'No. Im not paying for that, go clean up, get a band-aid, Put your gloves back on and we'll try again.' She acted all annoyed like it wasn't such a big deal and I should be blessed she decided to drip her special blood sauce on my chicken sammich. Other than that one experience, I love Subway."
Others loyally stuck up for their employers, pointing out that many fast food restaurants are individually owned franchises and mentioning the things they usually eat at work. "I love the popcorn chicken because more likely than not it's prepared fresh or at least within the last thirty minutes," former KFC worker diglettsbottomhalf wrote. "Any longer will make them hard and chewy."
While the way that Wendy's recycles overcooked hamburgers into the next day's vat of chili may be frugal, Cozmo23's description of it isn't exactly appetizing. (Though the rest of the thread, with riffs on British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay's possible reaction? Awesome.) It's not limited to Wendy's, either: Lethal_Lunacy77 reports that the Chick-Fil-A he worked at did something similar with their chicken salad, stripping old chicken patties of their breading before chopping them up and mixing in mayo. And fast-food places aren't the only ones that recycle, apparently. "Being a dishwasher in an italian eatery, i am instructed to throw garlic bread that looks untouched after being put out on the customers table into a separate bin where they are taken from, then used in meatballs," writes Burkey217. "Years ago my older brother was a busboy at a local well-respected restaurant. He let me know that the uneaten dinner rolls that were brought to each table (in a basket w/ packages of butter) were saved and placed into new baskets to go out to guests later in the evening," Chef_Brokentoe adds.
Calls from Yahoo! Shine to Wendy's and Subway were not immediately returned; a representative for Burger King declined to comment. McDonald's spokesperson Julie Pottebaum denied the allegations made by former employees. “The recent Reddit thread contained lots of conversation about the fast food industry overall and McDonald’s in particular. Unfortunately, not all of it was accurate. Customers can trust McDonald’s to provide them with food that is real and made with high quality ingredients from the most trusted suppliers," she told Yahoo! Shine. "Our Chicken McNuggets in particular are made with white meat. Tales of Chicken McNuggets “melting” fall in the realm of urban legend and other misinformation about Chicken McNuggets."
If after reading through some of the horror stories you still can't live without your fast-food fix, restaurant workers also offered a few words to the wise.
"I worked at a Subway and the only thing I can say about them is that when you enter a subway after actually working at one, you notice little things about the other ones that lead your decision on what you want to eat," D3adkl0wn writes. "Examples include the color of the tuna mix, temperature gauges on hot case items... even the amount of s*** on the floor, and the state of the ingredients (scattered all over, or somewhat neatly in their own bins) can often tell you how well that particular place is kept in terms of food safety."
"You want advice? Don't come through before we close," writes Gemiinus, about her Wendy's establishment. "That's when we're most lenient about our quality."
There's one shining light in this sea of fast-food despair: Five Guys Burgers and Fries.
"If there's anybody scared about Five Guys, it's fine," cameron432 writes. "There's no freezer. The burgers are made from slabs of raw meat the day of or the day before. Fries are made every day from the potatoes you see stacked up. All of the toppings are fresh except for mushrooms. They come in sealed bags. But nothing is notoriously gross."
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