What's Really in Fast Food

7:15:00 AM

** originally published in The Life Center of Connecticut blog March 4th 2016

We’ve all wondered it, right? You look down at that juicy burger or nuggets or fries and wonder - what’s really in fast food? The rumors have included everything from plastic and silicone to maggots, soy, perfume, and scary looking low grade meat. But what’s really going on in fast food?

Years ago, my very first job as a teenager was working at my local McDonald’s. I lived in a blissfully ignorant world where all food was what it said it was and I didn’t need to think beyond that. But my mind began to change in the few weeks that I worked there. Working the fry-o-later made my skin completely break out in the worst acne I ever had. I found the shake  mix terrifying, as it came in a big, thick, off-white blob you poured into a machine and poof, shake comes out. Worst of all was the rumor from the cooks that the burgers were only 30% beef, the rest was heavily perfumed soy and filler. That the corporation paid the best perfume companies in the world to make this less than meat concoction to smell and taste like a cheeseburger. I lasted 8 weeks at that job.

So the question looms, what’s really in fast food?  First, let’s start with white slime and pink slime. You may remember these terms from the Taco Bell scandal, where it was uncovered that only 30% of their ground beef was actual beef, the rest was “pink slime”. (Taco Bell has since stated this problem has been rectified and now uses 100% beef.) According to Wikipedia, white slime is defined as: Mechanically separated meat (MSM), mechanically recovered/reclaimed meat (MRM), or mechanically deboned meat (MDM) is a paste-like meat product produced by forcing pureed or ground beef, pork, turkey or chicken, under high pressure through a sieve or similar device to separate the bone from the edible meat tissue.* However, pink slime is slightly more sinister. Wikipedia differentiates it as a: process [that] entails pureeing or grinding the carcass left after the manual removal of meat from the bones and then forcing the slurry through a sieve under pressure. This puree includes bone, bone marrow, skin, nerves, blood vessels, and the scraps of meat remaining on the bones. The resulting product is a blend of muscle (meat) and other tissues not generally considered meat.*  Now do you really want to put a nugget in your mouth after reading that?

Courtesy of YouTube, you can see a video explaining this mechanical process better. A clip of chef, Jamie Oliver showing school kids what many chicken nuggets are made from: https://youtu.be/mKwL5G5HbGA

A fast food hamburger isn’t that much better from the pink slime description. An article from Collective Evolution showed a typical ingredient list for many fast food restaurants. As follows:
Water content by weight ranged from 37.7 to 62.4 percent, an average of 49 percent
Meat content in the hamburgers ranged from 2.1 percent to 14.8 percent, an average of 12.1 percent (even LESS then the McDonald’s rumor above!)
Electron microscopy revealed the existence of preserved skeletal muscle
Connective tissues
Blood vessels
Peripheral nerves
Adipose Tissue
Plant material
Since 2012, many fast food companies have claimed to remedy their menu by offering healthier options to choose from. Many places now carry at least a basic salad, veggies or apple slices, and wraps. But did you know many of those things are sprayed or dusted with propylene glycol? Propylene glycol is a type of propane with a sweet flavor that  includes water, acetone and chloroform. This is done in the name of a longer shelf life. Even the “healthy” options are pumped full of chemicals. The scary thought, a lot of these healthy menu options are given to our children as a substitute. We’re giving our children chloroform to eat.
I believe great strides are just beginning to be made in the fast food industry and our food supply in general. From the way I see it, all fast food offers no food of nutritional value. Even the healthier options are tainted with some kind of chemical preservative. It barely deserves the description of food. Why put that in your body as fuel?

Resources for this article:

*Wikipedia - definition for Mechanically Separated Meat, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mechanically_separated_meat
Wikipedia - definition for Pink Slime,
*HuffPost Tatse - These Disturbing Fast Food Truths Will Make You Reconsider Your Lunch 11/20/2013, updated 5/12/2014 by Renee Jacques
*Collective Evolution article - Study Shows Fast Food Can Contain As Little As 2% Meat 8/3/2013 by Arjun Walia http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/08/03/study-shows-fast-food-burgers-can-contain-as-little-as-2-actual-meat/

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